Father Charlie Hughes: 'A Great Sense of Wonder'

Posted: 9/29/2015

CINCINNATI—Father Charles (Charlie) Hughes, 88, a native of Woodhaven, N.Y., and a Glenmary Home Missioner for 65 years, passed away suddenly on Sept. 23 at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. During his long career in ministry, he served in a wide variety of roles—parish mission pastor, educator, and camp director—and eventually was elected President of Glenmary Home Missioners from 1971-75.

"Father Charlie was an amazing teacher,'" says Glenmary president Father Chet Artysiewicz. "He had this tremendous ability to make the hardest subject matter easy for his students to understand. He was brilliant, insightful, and possessed a great sense of wonder. His curiosity led him to notice things that others would not. He defined the simplicity and poverty of his vows as a Glenmarian."

Father Hughes professed his Final Oath in 1953 and was ordained as a priest in 1954. His first assignments took him to Wisconsin and Kentucky for three years. He left for Rome to continue his studies in 1957 and earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Angelicum in 1959.

He returned to Cincinnati and served as an educator until 1963, when he left to become administrator in Sylvania, Ga. He then served as camp director in Buck Creek, N.C.; spiritual director of potential candidates in Cincinnati; spiritual director of potential candidates and house superior in Chicago; faculty member at St. Meinrad, Ind., Seminary from 1966-68 before moving onto St. Louis University as the Director of Glenmary House of Studies from 1968 to 1971. He was elected to the position of Glenmary president for one term (1971-75) before returning to the field as pastor in Crossett, Ark., for six years. He served as interim director of Novitiate in Cincinnati from 1981-83 before spending the next 25 years doing mission work in North Carolina, Oklahoma, and most recently in Georgia. He took senior membership in 1993 and his last official assignment was serving as priest in residence at St. Mary on the Hill in Augusta, GA., from 2005-14.

Father Hughes returned to Cincinnati in 2014 and was living at St. Margaret Hall when he passed away. He battled with a hearing impairment most of his adult life, but he never let that slow him down or impact his work. He sat upfront in classrooms and seminars, learned to read lips, and eventually received a surgically implanted cochlear device which helped him hear things better. He once said that his deafness was "an expression of the Lord's unique love for me. My deafness has played a significant part in my relationship with God."

An accomplished magician, Father Hughes often used his amazing skill to entertain children and adults in his missions and college students in his classes. "He used his magician skills to connect with people of all ages," Father Chet says. "He mesmerized young children and college professors alike. That was how good he was at it. He dazzled them."

Father Charlie was the youngest of six brothers, four of whom preceded him in death: John, Andrew, Thomas, and Edward. He is survived by his brother William (Helen) of Melville, N.Y., fellow missioners, numerous nieces and nephews, and friends. He was also a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.

Visitation will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 6, from 4 p.m. until the wake service at 7 p.m. in Our Lady of the Fields Chapel, 4085 Glenmary Trace, Fairfield, Ohio. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 10 a.m. at St. Matthias Church, with burial following at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Cincinnati.

Memorials may be made to Glenmary Home Missioners, P.O. Box 465618, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246.