Father John S. McHugh passed into eternal life on Monday, July 31, 2017 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He was 93 years old. Fr. John was born on August 9, 1923 in Tulsa, Oklahoma to James McHugh and Laura Lee (Stevens) McHugh. Father was preceded in passing by his parents and only sister, Mary Lee (McHugh) Braune.
Baptized on August 23, 1923 at Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa, he received his First Holy Communion and Confirmation at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Fr. John attended grammar school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Oklahoma City and secondary school at St. Gregory the Great in Shawnee, Oklahoma, graduating in 1941. After a year of study at the University of Oklahoma, he enlisted in the US Air Force and was stationed in England during World War II. He was a bombardier on a lead crew in the Air Force and flew in 18 combat missions until his plane was shot down over Germany in 1945. One of only two men surviving the crash, he remained a POW in Germany until the war ended. Upon returning home, he continued his studies at St. Benedict’s College in Atchison, Kansas before entering seminary with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
On May 24, 1952, Father was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Edwin V. Byrne at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe. His first assignment as a priest was as Assistant Pastor at Cristo Rey parish in Santa Fe, NM. Later he was made Pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Holman, NM.
While serving as Pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Fr. John was introduced to Fr. James Flanagan, who had come to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as a step in the founding of a new religious congregation under the authority of Archbishop Byrne. On July 16, 1958, Fr. Flanagan founded the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) with Fr. John as the first priest member.
Fr. John would go on to serve for six years as Pastor at St. Gertrude the Great in Mora, NM and five years as Associate Pastor at St. Francis Seraph parish in Kansas City, Missouri.
Thirty years of Fr. John’s priesthood were spent in Belize, Central America, where he founded the first SOLT mission outside of the US, as Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize, and St. Martin de Porres parish in Melchor, Guatemala from 1969 to the late 1990s. Fr. John spent and consumed himself in these border towns during a time of great civil unrest in the region. He left a lasting mark not only in the lives and hearts of the people in Benque Viejo, Melchor and the surrounding areas, but also through the establishment of Mount Carmel High School in Benque Viejo, which began in 1991 as a “second-chance” school and now boasts an enrollment of over 400 students.
Fr. John returned to the US from Belize to serve as Regional Priest Servant for the American Region of SOLT for six years, followed by eight years at St. Gertrude’s once again.
Father spent the last five years of his earthly life in Corpus Christi, TX, where the SOLT Generalate is located. Through the fidelity of Fr. John and Fr. Flanagan, SOLT has grown from its humble beginnings in Holman, NM to having missions and apostolates both in the United States and throughout the world. Fr. John leaves a spiritual legacy of joy, courage, faithfulness and love of the Blessed Mother and the Church in the hearts of those who knew him.
Funeral arrangements are as follows:
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Rosary: St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Robstown, TX, 7 pm
Friday, August 4, 2017
Funeral Mass: St. Anthony’s in Robstown, 10 am
Sunday, August 6, 2017
Wake and Rosary: St. Gertrude the Great Catholic Church in Mora, NM, beginning at 5 pm
Monday, August 7, 2017
Rosary: St. Gertrude’s in Mora, 9am
Funeral Mass: St. Gertrude’s, 10 am; Burial to follow at the SOLT Sisters’ Convent in Holman, NM