Furlong, Sr. M. Rosetta

Furlong, Sr. M. Rosetta

Nationality: Irish
Congregational Register No: 419
D.O.B. 29.06.1937
First Profession: 28.10.1958
Died: 28.04.2007 Aged: 69 years
Elizabeth Veronica Furlong came from Balyconigar, Blackwater, Co. Wexford.  Known as Elsie to family and friends, she had four sisters and one brother.  The young Elsie Furlong entered MMM at the beginning of 1956 and took the name Sr. M. Rosetta.

Sr. Rosetta was originally assigned to do catering work, both at the Apostolic delegation in London and the Apostolic nunciature in Dublin. She then earned her registration in nursing and midwifery at the IMTH in Drogheda.  In 1971 her first overseas mission as a trained nurse was to Italy, where she worked in the Clinica Mediterranea in Naples.

In 1978, Rosetta was assigned to Kenya. Apart from a period in 1980-81 when she returned to Ireland to care for one of her sisters, Rosetta spent the rest of her working life In Kenya. After her sister’s death she was assigned to the harsh Turkana Region.

Sr. Rosetta was an excellent nurse who gave continually of herself to the people of Turkana, at times at the expense of her own well-being.  She loved the Turkana and they loved and trusted her, knowing that she was devoted to them and their welfare. In his homily at the memorial Mass for Rosetta in Lodwar, Fr. Raphael spoke of Rosetta’s dedication to the people of Turkana. “Rosetta was one of the most dedicated missionaries that I have found in my almost 50 years as a Comboni Missionary in Africa.  Always ready, always available, any time of the day and during the night.  Always calm and patient with everybody.”

Sr. Rosetta was devoted to providing the best health care possible to the semi-nomadic pastoralists of Turkana. She had returned from one of her regular outreach clinics on 26 April.  She mentioned to Sr. Kathleen Crowley after supper that evening that she had got a bite and went to put something on it.  After evening prayers, Rosetta realised that she had the symptoms of a bite from the hunting spider, which she had successfully treated in many other people.  She started treatment immediately but when signs of paralysis set in she requested that the Spanish doctors who were working at Lodwar District Hospital be notified.  They came and treated her.  She remained in bed the next day, taking treatment and intravenous fluids and by the evening was able to move her limbs and sit on the side of the bed.  The doctors came back, examined her, and thought that she was over the worst.  Bishop Harrington called in and prayed with her and later on Rosetta settled down to sleep.  Early on the morning of the 28th Sr. Kathleen went to check on Rosetta and realised that something was very wrong.  The doctors were called but were unable to resuscitate her.

Rosetta’s body was flown to Nairobi for burial and the funeral was held at St. Austin’s Church.  Bishop Harrington came from Lodwar and was the main celebrant at the Funeral Mass.  The funeral was attended by six members of Rosetta’s family, Sisters and friends of MMM, and priests from Turkana and from other congregations: eighteen in all.  Rosetta is buried in St. Austin’s Cemetery beside many other missionaries, including Edel Quinn.  She died as she had lived and was sorely missed by her family, friends and colleagues, especially by the poor that she served.  Bishop Harrington set up a medical training fund in Rosetta’s name. Now her healing gift will be perpetuated in the Turkana who will be trained in the future, a fitting memorial for a medical missionary.