Father McHugh had been a priest 61years, much of it at Nativity where he had served as pastor from 1972 to 1997, and thereafter as pastor emeritus.Born in Cliffoney, County Sligo, Ireland, Father McHugh attended the College of the Immaculate Conception in Dalgan park and St. Columban’s College in Navan, Ireland, before coming to the U.S. He was ordained from St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo, in April 1950, and was assigned to Holy Angels Church, Arcadia, serving until 1954 as an associate pastor.He also was an associate pastor at St. Anthony, Long Beach (1954-56); St. Finbar, Burbank (1956-63); Sacred Heart, Lincoln Heights (1963-65); and St. Columban, Los Angeles (1967-72).In March 1997, Father McHugh became pastor of Nativity in Torrance, serving until his retirement in June 1997. As pastor, Father McHugh began a regular perpetual adoration ministry on behalf of vocations, and he was a proponent throughout his priesthood of “walking” the parish.“The disappearance of the visiting parish priest is a great loss to the church,” he told The Tidings in a 1978 article, asserting that priests should go out and meet the people to develop “a better sense of the reality of things.”“Go and meet the ordinary people, who have the faith but are not too visible, who fill our pews and support our parishes and are so patient with our adolescent follies — the real people of the church. If we are isolated from them, we are going to gravitate to others like ourselves in all kinds of gatherings which generate an atmosphere so rarified that we become a little lightheaded by it all.”He noted that he was asked by some why he walked the streets. “I tell them all, ‘If the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons can do it, so can I.’They are out there, tramping up and down the streets, tireless in their zeal, speaking to all, being rejected by many, but winning some. How can I stay at home and putter around the rectory while they are showing the signs that I am supposed to show?”Father McHugh was Nativity’s pastor emeritus in residence from 1997 until 2008. He was living at Santa Teresita Hospital, Duarte, at the time of his death.Interment took place in Ireland.
Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus).