Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Francis Patrick McFarland

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Third Bishop of Hartford (q.v.) born at Franklin, Pennsylvania, 16 April, 1819; died at Hartford, Connecticut, 2 October, 1874. His parents, John McFarland and Mary McKeever, emigrated from Armagh. From early childhood Francis had a predilection for the priestly state. Diligent and talented, he was employed as teacher in the village school, but soon entered Mount St. Mary's College, Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he graduated with high honours and was retained as teacher. The following year, 1845, he was ordained, 18 May, at New York by Archbishop Hughes, who immediately detailed the young priest to a professor's chair at St. John's College, Fordham. Father McFarland, however, longed for the direct ministry of souls and from his college made frequent missionary journeys among the scattered Catholics. After a year at Fordham he was appointed pastor of Watertown, N.Y., where his zeal was felt for many miles around. On March, 1851, he was transferred by his new ordinary, Bishop McCloskey of Albany, to St. John's Church, Utica. For seven years the whole city was edified by his "saintly labours", and the news of his apostolic achievements reached as far as Rome. He was appointed Vicar-Apostolic of Florida, 9 March, 1857. He declined the honour only to be elected Bishop of Hartford. He was consecrated at Providence, 14 March, 1858, and resided in that city until the division of his diocese in 1872 (see PROVIDENCE, DIOCESE OF). Failing health prompted him, while attending the Vatican Council, to resign his see. His confréres of the American episcopate would not hear of such a step. They had learned to regard him as the embodiment of the virtues of a bishop and one of the brightest ornaments of their order. By dividing the diocese it was hoped that his burden would be sufficiently lightened. He left Providence for Hartford 28 February, 1872. After reorganizing his diocese he immediately set about the erection of a cathedral, and to his enlightened initiative is owing the splendid edifice of which the Catholics of Connecticut are so justly proud. Bishop McFarland displayed rare wisdom in the administration of his see. His zeal and self-sacrifice carried him everywhere, preaching, catechizing, lecturing, moving among priests and people as a saint and scholar. He was a man of fine intellect and commanding presence. Austere and thoughtful, he always preserved a quiet dignity and the humility of the true servant of Christ. He collected a valuable theological library which he bequeathed to his diocese. His death at the early age of fifty-five was mourned as a calamity. His name is still a household word among the Catholics of Connecticut.

T.S. DUGGAN