Father Joseph W. Hughes, 67
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated March 10 by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., in St. Ann Church, Keansburg, for Father Joseph W. Hughes, Lakewood, who died March 7 in Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank.
The son of the late Albert and Helen (Long) Hughes, Father Hughes was born in 1944 in New York City. He attended St. Ann School, Keansburg, and high school in St. Charles Seminary, Catonsville, Md. He completed his studies for the priesthood in St. Mary Seminary and University, Baltimore.
He was ordained by Bishop George W. Ahr in St. Ann Church, Keansburg, May 30, 1970. Following early assignments as parochial vicar in Our Lady of Mount Virgin, Middlesex and St. Phillip and St. James Parish, Phillipsburg, between 1970 and 1972 and St. Joseph Parish, Toms River, from 1973 to 1974, Father Hughes was named principal of Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville.
Father Hughes served in that capacity until 1988 when he was named to his most recent pastorate, shepherding the community of Holy Cross Parish, Rumson.
His ministry was disrupted when, in November, 2004, he was charged with taking and improperly spending parish funds.
After serving six months of a five-year prison term, Father Hughes returned to ministry, filling in as needed in several faith communities.
In his homily during the funeral Mass, Redemptorist Father John McGowan asked those in attendance to put Father Hughes’ failings in context with the good things he accomplished during this priestly life and to keep him and indeed, all priests, in their prayers.
“Today, I am reminded of the quote of Mark Anthony, ‘the evil that men do lives after (men); the good is oft interred with their bones,” said Father McGowan of St. Alfonso Retreat House, Long Branch, who had known Father Hughes for 16 years.
Without minimizing Father Hughes’ misdeeds, he reminded his listeners that although Father Hughes did an “awful lot of good as a priest and as a human being, he made a lot of mistakes…Joe had a failing and made some big financial mistakes and was relieved of his pastorate,” Father McGowan said.
“And he had to pay his debt with six months in prison,” Father McGowan said, noting that Father Hughes made the best of the “terrible months” of his sentence by ministering to his fellow prisoners. “He never stopped being a priest while serving, he ministered just as he did before (going to jail) and just as he did after.”
Father McGowan said, “Priests are like all of us, they are mistake makers …Let each one of us be forgiving people and let’s never forget that we are all mistake makers.”
Following the Mass, Father Hughes was interred in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Middletown.
Surviving are his brother, John P. Hughes and wife, Kathleen, Wallace, N.C.; sister, Mary Beth Souza, Middletown; nephews, Barrett Hughes and Michael Souza, and a niece, Kimberly Souza.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 11454, Alexandria, Va.[[In-content Ad]]