Father J. Russell Hughes, MM
Born: March 12, 1906
Ordained: June 11, 1933
Died: June 21, 1948
Joseph Russell Hughes was born in New York City on March 12, 1906. He attended Fordham Preparatory School and studied for one year at Fordham University before entering the Venard in 1926. His interest in a missionary vocation had its beginnings from a talk given by a visiting priest who worked among the Indians in this country.
He was ordained on June 11, 1933 and immediately assigned to Manila. During his twelve years there Father Hughes’ life was full of variety. He was secretary to the Archbishop of Manila and thus brought into contact with many influential persons both in civilian and military life, with students at the universities, and with the poor. He enjoyed most working with the underprivileged boys of Manila, organizing them into athletic and recreational groups, with the ultimate goal of forming them into better persons.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked, thousands of Americans in the outposts of the Orient were trapped. The Japanese troops marched into Manila less than a month after Pearl Harbor. Father had always done much for the Maryknoll Sisters and now he proved his fearless character with the coming of the prison camp at Los Banos. He literally slaved for the daughters of Maryknoll during those tortuous times of hunger, sickness and increasing feebleness.
After the rescue of 2200 Los Banos internees in 1945 Father Hughes still wanted to remain in the Philippines to help in the rehabilitation of the devastated land. He had lost more than 100 pounds, beriberi made it difficult for him to stand and under nourishment had begun to cause deafness. His superiors called him back home for a much needed rest in 1945. Back in America he received various appointments to work at St. Augustine’s in New York, to do promotion work in Iowa and Wisconsin, to act as spiritual director at the Venard and finally as local superior of the Center house, which position he held until Easter of 1948 when his health began to deteriorate.
A few months later, as Father Hughes was about to celebrate Mass, he fell ill. His missionary career came to a close on June 21, 1948 at the Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston. The funeral Mass was celebrated at Maryknoll and he was buried in our cemetery here.