Father Hugh F. Byrne, MM

Born: January 21, 1917
Ordained: June 11, 1944
Died: May 19, 1984

Father Hugh Byrne returned from Chile in January. He died at St. Teresa’s on Saturday, May 19, 1984.

A fellow missioner from Chile described Father Hugh in the following manner: “Father Byrne is a huge man with a huge heart, a deep simple faith, and a delicate and sensitive nature toward anyone that suffers. He has a keen mind, and is usually philosophizing. Everyone’s troubles become his own. Anything evil is repugnant to Fr. Hugh. He would never hurt anyone deliberately; and when he does, it hurts him mostly. He is a priest always, and delights to be in their company.”

Hugh Byrne was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on January 21, 1917, to Hugh and Mary Byrne. After six years at Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception Preparatory Seminary, he entered the Venard in 1937 as a first Philosophy student. He was ordained in June, 1944 with twenty-five other young men. His first assignment was to study mathematics at DePaul University. In 1945 he took up residence at the Venard. Looking forward to a mission appointment, he left for Bolivia in 1948. He went to Montero where he was instrumental in holding a mission that resulted in the blessing of over two hundred and fifty marriages. In 1953 he arrived in the States for reasons of health. His next assignment was to Chile in 1954, where he remained until this January.

During his missionary career Father Hugh was greatly sensitive to the needs of people, and especially to the sufferings of the poor. He was very generous to the poor. It has been said of him that he was “kindness personified”. Though never physically strong, he made every effort to accommodate the people with whom he was working. He was a meek man with a sharp mind, and one who loved the company of priests. He was always ready to say a kind word and to explain away the faults of others.

The Wake was held on Monday, May 21st with Fr. Thomas Kirchmyer officiating and Brother Bonaventure reading the biography. Mass of Christian burial took place on the following morning with Fr. John Remmele as Principal Concelebrant and Homily by Fr. Thomas McDermott. Graveside service was conducted by Fr. John Halbert.

We hope and pray that Father Hugh has been given his eternal reward for his almost forty years of priestly life and his love for people. He will be missed by the people of Chile and by his Maryknoll Family.