Although he recently celebrated the 54th anniversary of his priestly ordination, Msgr. James J. Loughnane — who will be stepping down as episcopal vicar of the San Gabriel Pastoral Region in September — isn’t thinking about retirement.
“Retiring? No, I’m re-firing!” Msgr. Loughnane replies each time someone asks if he is ready to retire, according to Petita Virata, director of administration for St. Denis Church, Diamond Bar, where he has been pastor since 1993. Always on the go, the monsignor has served dual roles of pastor and episcopal vicar since 2012.
A native of Ireland, Msgr. Loughnane was born the oldest of 13 children to Michael and Bridget Loughnane. He was ordained on June 18, 1961, at All Hallows Seminary in Dublin alongside 37 fellow seminarians.
Six weeks later he arrived in Southern California with three classmates to begin ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, starting at St. John the Baptist de la Salle Church, Granada Hills.
Over the next 30-plus years, Msgr. Loughnane was appointed to serve at several parishes across the archdiocese: St. Cornelius, Long Beach; St. Bonaventure, Huntington Beach; St. Barnabas, Long Beach; and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park, where he was the pastor until 1993, when he was named pastor of St. Denis.
In addition to parish ministry, Msgr. Loughnane has served as judge in the archdiocesan matrimonial tribunal; been a member of the Canon Law Society of America; worked with the SFV Interfaith Council; and served on numerous archdiocesan boards and committees (e.g., Priests’ Council, Young Adult Advisory Board, Catholic School Board).
He is also a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus, and a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
In 1988, Msgr. Loughnane was appointed Domestic Prelate to His Holiness Pope John Paul II and given the title “monsignor,” and in 2005 Pope Benedict XVI honored him with the title Protonotary Apostolic, the highest order of monsignor.
These days, Msgr. Loughnane remains as busy as ever, Virata told The Tidings. On a typical weekday, he presides at the 6:30 a.m. Mass, and can be found working in his office by 7:30 a.m.
He leaves for the regional office about 9:30 a.m., returns to the parish by 5 p.m., and receives appointments from 6 to 9 p.m. In between, he often hears confessions or attends meetings of the numerous parish ministries.
“I honestly do not know where he gets his energy,” said Virata. “Msgr. Loughnane works hard, is dedicated, and is such a caring person.
“He often tells me he wishes he had 25 more years of ministry to give, and if he had to go back in time, he would still choose the same path of dedicating his life to the priesthood,” she added. “I believe that our good Lord blesses monsignor every day with energy and wisdom, so he can continue to touch lives and save souls.”