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. (http://frcharliehughes.blogspot.com/) 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.