Father John M. McLoughlin, MM
Born: April 6, 1909
Ordained: June 16, 1935
Died: June 30, 1980
Father John M. McLoughlin died peacefully at Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong on Monday morning, June 30, 1980. John had been ill for some time.
Born in Lancashire, England, on April 6, 1909, John came to America with his parents, John J. McLoughlin and Mary Gavin, who became naturalized citizens and settled down in New York City in 1912. The fifth of nine children, John attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish School and it was there that the seed of his vocation was sown. In an early autobiography he said that the day of his Confirmation was the day he decided to become a “Soldier of Christ” – a priest and missionary. He applied to Maryknoll and was accepted for high school at the Venard on September 7, 1923.
Ordained on June 16, 1935, “Red,” as he was familiarly known to his friends, was immediately assigned to Wuchow, China, where he served some of the happiest years of his life. His letters and writings portray a joy at working with the Chinese people, even though the times were trying and difficult. He was in China during the whole period of the 2nd World War; much of that time as Pro-Vicar of the Wuchow Vicariate. Trying to avoid the invading troops, with the responsibility of several Brothers, Sisters and Seminarians, he decided to send them all out to safety and remain there himself. In a letter to his superior he said, “As for myself personally, I feel that some of us have a duty to remain and carry on as long as we can.”
He did remain and returned to the U.S. after the war for a brief vacation at home. In 1947 he was back again in Wuchow as first Consultor for the Society Superior. With the Communist takeover of the mainland, Red was expelled, together with the other missioners and returned to the States. In 1951, for health reasons, he remained in the U.S. and did pastoral work for two years in Seattle. In 1953 he was assigned as Pastor of Maryknoll’s Transfiguration Church in Chinatown, New York; a post he enjoyed because it brought him again into contact with the Chinese people whom he loved. A parishioner wrote to the Superior General when John was assigned back to Hong Kong in 1961: “It is difficult to describe how we and countless other parishioners feel about Fr. McLoughlin’s departure. He has won the love and respect of all and I do not base that on the goodness he has shown only towards me. That would be placing a limit on his goodness and priesthood, but rather because he has given so generously of himself to all the souls in his care.” That is a good description of John and depicts the remainder of his life as well. For the last 19 years in Hong Kong he held many different posts: Regional Vicar, Chaplain to U.S. servicemen, Supervisor of Schools; but none suited him better that Missionary Pastor. Dependable and dedicated, he spoke the language well and considered his greatest challenge to be with the people – to visit them, to introduce them to the Lord and the Church, both of whom he knew so well. Although hampered by failing health, he continued with this ideal until the end of his life.
The funeral service and burial took place in Hong Kong. At Maryknoll, New York a Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated on July 3rd. The principal Celebrant was Fr. James Noonan, Superior General; the Homilist Fr. Vincent Corbelli, Regional Superior of Hong Kong, and the Biography given by Fr. John Cioppa.
John would be proud to be known and acclaimed as a China Missioner; his childhood vision of a “Soldier of Christ” come true. “The time is here for me to leave this life. I have done my best in the race; I have run the full distance; I have kept the faith. And now the prize of victory is waiting for me, the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day – and not only to me, but to all those who wait with love for him to appear.” (2 Tim. 4, 6-8).