Nearly 1,000 mourners gathered at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Camarillo on Jan. 16 in remembrance of the late Msgr. John C. Hughes, and in recognition of his six-plus decades of priestly service to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Msgr. Hughes died Jan. 8 following a short illness, surrounded by friends and fellow priests. He was 90.
Archbishop José H. Gomez presided at the funeral Mass at St. Mary Magdalen, where Msgr. Hughes had served as pastor for almost 30 years. Also in attendance were Cardinal Roger Mahony, auxiliary bishops and more than 40 priests.
A native Angeleno, Msgr. Hughes was born Aug. 9, 1924, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Los Angeles. He attended Queen of Angels Junior Seminary, St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, and was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal James Francis McIntyre in 1949 at St. Vibiana’s Cathedral in Los Angeles.
Msgr. Hughes’ first assignment following his ordination was at St. Ambrose Church, West Hollywood, where he served until 1954, when he went to St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy, Downey. There he was a teacher and later became vice principal before leaving in 1960. Other assignments included serving at St. Bernard High School, Playa del Rey; Bishop Alemany High School, Mission Hills, and he served as pastor of St. Mary Magdalen from 1971 until his retirement in 1999.
Among his notable recognitions, Pope John Paul II conferred the Papal Honor of Prelate of Honor to His Holiness upon Msgr. Hughes in 1988, and the Sisters of Notre Dame presented him with the Aloysia Life Achievement Award in 2005.
The monsignor’s long-time secretary Christine Schwiesow, who worked with him for nearly 33 years, delivered a touching eulogy at his funeral, describing him as extremely generous, a dear friend, and, above all, a “good and faithful servant.”
“His most important ministry was to the sick and the dying,” recounted Schwiesow. “For many years, his number was first at the answering service [and] he was awakened many times in the middle of the night. … He gave of himself each and every time. He prayed with the sick and consoled families.”
Including Schwiesow and her own family. When her mother was dying, Msgr. Hughes anointed her and “was so very present to her during her last days.” He also offered prayer and support when Schwiesow’s father passed away.
“There are no words to describe how much that meant to me,” said Schwiesow, adding in closing, “Thanks to all of you for being part of this special celebration of the life of a wonderful, holy man. … Now we know that he is finally home.”
Msgr. Hughes is survived by his sister Nancy Morgan. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City. Condolences may be sent to: St. Magdalen Chapel, 2532 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010.