Thomas J. Quinlan

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The Reverend Thomas J. Quinlan (April 23, 1929 – April 24, 2012[1]) was a Roman Catholic priest of the Richmond diocese.


Father Quinlan was ordained priest on May 1, 1958, and was named a curate at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Alexandria, Virginia. He started a new parish in Poquoson, Virginia from the beginning and a church was built there. He led the Church of the Holy Parish toward retiring a large debt from its expansion. Father Quinlan was instrumental in providing a Haitian village with a freshwater well and a school by partnering their parish with Holy family. He was also the president of the priest senate in the Richmond diocese.[2]


The Bishop of Richmond, Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, retired Father Quinlan in June, 2005 from service at Holy Family in Virginia Beach.[3] A Christmas Eve homily, which made references to Mary's humanly giving birth to Jesus, offended some members of the parish and was reported to Bishop DiLorenzo. However many members of the Parish stood up for and appealed to the Bishop to retain Father Quinlan.

Father Quinlan's homiletic language was vulgar and disrespectful, and there were some instances of sacrilegious behavior at Mass. According to local newspapers,[4] Father Quinlan drove a Volkswagen down the aisle during a Palm Sunday procession at Good Shepherd Catholic Church. At another Palm Sunday Mass, "T.Q." drove a three-ton forklift down the center aisle at The Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Norfolk VA. Jet Magazine, August 18, 1977 The "yellow brick road" imagery was a metaphor for Jesus' pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Father Quinlan occasionally costumed himself as The Grinch or as Superman at the beginning of a Mass. Another endeavor included a psychedelic Mass with lighting effects.

On 30 January 2006, The Catholic Virginian (the official newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond), printed the following regarding Fr. Quinlan:

"The Rev. Thomas Quinlan, a retired priest of the Diocese of Richmond, can no longer celebrate the sacraments publicly. He can celebrate Mass privately. Bishop DiLorenzo said he took this action as a response to Father Quinlan's behavior that has 'engendered anxiety and emotional upset which interferes with an individual's religious experience.'"


  1. ^ "Thomas J. Quinlan Obituary". The Virginian Pilot. 29 April 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Article". The Catholic Virginian. 80 (14). 2005.
  3. ^ "Letters". The Catholic Virginian. 80 (16). 2005.
  4. ^ Szabo, Liz (June 24, 2000). "Fool for Christ: Priest Whose Behavior Sometimes Shocks Brings His Unorthodox Ministerial Ways to Beach Church". Virginian Pilot.