SAN BERNARDINO—“Everyone’s A Planner”
The sign that hung in Ted Furlow’s office at the Diocesan Pastoral Center revealed what he came to see as the collective and inclusive nature of his ministry.
Furlow retired from his post as the Director of Pastoral Planning on July 7 after 16 years of ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino. He brought decades of experience as a contractor when he was hired as Construction Coordinator for the Diocese in 1999. While his business experience was valuable, he says he quickly learned that there is another dimension to building and planning when it becomes a ministry of the Church
“You have to be more inclusive of the individuals you’re dealing with and you have to be open to the presence of the Holy Spirit,” he says.
Working alongside former Planning Director Doug Rodrigues, Furlow moved from construction to pastoral planning. When Rodrigues left the Diocese in 2003, Furlow eventually inherited the job. Early on, Bishop Gerald Barnes recognized a need for Furlow to incorporate the theology of the Church into the ministry of planning and encouraged him to pursue a Master’s Degree in Theology. Agreeing to go “back to school” was the best decision he ever made, Furlow said.
“I was more excited about what I was doing because I could see how it all comes together,” he says of how his graduate studies informed his work, “how the message of the Gospel applies to us today.”
Furlow’s journey in faith and formation during his years with the Diocese prompted Diocesan Vicar General Monsignor Gerard Lopez to remark that “Ted came to us as a contractor and he leaves as a theologian.”
Furlow and his staff have served in a consultative role to many parishes in the Diocese who were seeking to form or strengthen a Pastoral Council. They have also worked with Catholic schools and diocesan ministries to develop strategic plans. He also established a relationship between the Diocese and Mission Insight to provide statistical data on parishes for planning purposes. In recent years, the Department of Planning also coordinated Episcopal Visitations in the Diocese and provided oversight to the newly-formed Office of Transitions.
In addition to his work in Planning, Furlow also served on the Diocesan Curia and Bishop’s Senior Staff, where he was known for being well-read and often direct in offering his perspective on the larger issues of the Church. He wrote (and will continue to write) a column in the Inland Catholic BYTE, “The Layman’s Minute,” and through his narration of Diocesan videos he was humorously referred to as the “voice of the Diocese.”
A resident of Long Beach, Furlow and his wife, Terri, will continue to work in marriage preparation ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, he says.
In an honor of Furlow’s impact on the Diocese, Bishop Barnes bestowed upon him the Amar Es Entregarse Award at a Diocesan gathering on June 30.