Monday, October 5, 2015

Fr. Charlie Hughes

This week at Glenmary we will celebrate the life of our beloved fellow missioner, Fr. Charles Hughes. During his entire life, Fr. Charlie exuberantly proclaimed God's love and mercy by his actions and with the words he proclaimed and wrote.  To all those who met him, Fr. Charlie was a joyful witness of the Gospel message his entire life.

Fr. Charlie was ordained a Glenmary priest in 1954 and served the bulk of his life as a missioner in Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Kentucky and Oklahoma. Fr. Charlie also served many years in the formation of the young men preparing for Glenmary and as Glenmary President from 1971 to 1975. When elected president, Fr. Charlie told his fellow missioners "I will try to remain happy and joyful because faith must win over confusion, hope over hopelessness and love over sin."

Fr. Charlie  was an extremely intelligent and spiritual man. He obtained a Doctorate degree in Sacred Theology from the Angelicum in Rome. And he was also a gifted preacher and writer. Some of his Irish wit and storytelling allowed him to proclaim the good news in a simple way that could be understood by all those who heard preach or read his writings. In one of his many articles for the Glenmary Challenge magazine, he wrote that being a missioner felt like "being a piece of chalk." - he went on to say that a missioner like a piece of chalk has a message and for Charlie that message was simply, "God loves us." The message in the chalk could not be seen until written on the blackboard, likewise, "the missioner studies the message and makes it his own. then he lives in such a way that message visible."

Although intelligent and regularly reading, Fr. Charlie was not living in the world of some heady doctrine, he was in this world and fully "present"  to all those he met. He had a great curiosity and wanted to get to know people as well as he had a great concern for all of the people he met. And Charlie was devoted to prayer, getting to know God was his first love.

Fr. Charlie always looked for a way to communicate God's message of love. At 83 years old he even started blogging while he was still serving in a parish in Georgia. ( Unable to write in recent months, Fr. Charlie's last blog entry was in May of this year.

At age 87, Fr. Charlie moved to Cincinnati and lived at Glenmary's headquarters. Shortly after arriving in Cincinnati, an early snowfall hit the area. Fr. Charlie was up early that day and leaving his walker inside he risked his life on the icy walkway to tackle the job of shoveling the snow on the sidewalk. When told that he did not have to take on such a job at his age he replied, "I was worried about all the people coming to Mass later today." He simply wanted to serve others and make sure that they had a path to encounter God.

Fr. Charlie had found the love of God in his life and he lived to share that love with others. Thank you Fr. Charlie for sharing with us how simple it can be to love, to be joyful and to be hopeful in everyday life. You will be missed but always remembered as a gift to us all in your time here on earth.


  1. Thank you for posting this beautiful expression of your love for Fr. Charlie. I love him too. I met him in a confessional ten years ago. The sign posted outside of the confessional said "deaf Priest". Well I thought that I should write my sins on a piece of paper because how can a deaf Priest hear me. I did that and went in and passed the paper to Fr. Charlie. He passed the paper back to me, I crumpled it up and threw it out. He started smiling, laughing and talking and we became friends from that moment on. I am thankful to God for Father Charlie....a gift to the world.

  2. Thanks for this wonderful tribute to my uncle, Uncle Fr. Charlie as I knew him. And thanks to all of the warm hospitality shown us during the celebration of Fr. Charlie's life by the Glenmarians. All of you will always remain in our hearts. God bless you one and all.

  3. I agree with my cousin John, thank you so very much to all you did to help us truly celebrate the life of our precious uncle, Fr. Charlie. He was amazing in every way and it was wonderful to meet so many of his Glenmary family. Your hospitality and graciousness to us during this time of both sadness and joy (knowing Fr. Charlie was now in heaven truly with his Lord Jesus Christ) was so welcomed and very much appreciated by us, his nieces and nephews. Fr. Charlie was one of a kind and loved so much by all… Thank you again and Blessings to you all..

  4. My daughter went to Aquinas H.S. in Augusta, GA for 2 years. She loved Fr. Charlie. It's been said there's an unknown number of "undeclared" saints: Fr. Charlie being one of them. I know he is resting in peace in the love of his Lord. He gives me reason to keep going when I feel depressed and alone. He always sought God.