Father Michael J. McHugh, S. J., 86, died Tuesday, May 1, 2007, in the Jesuit Infirmary at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash.
A wake was held for Fr. McHugh Tuesday, May 8 at 7 p. m. in the Jesuit House Chapel at Gonzaga University in Spokane. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Aloysius Church also at Gonzaga University at 12 Noon, Wednesday, May 9. Memorial Masses will be held in Portland at St. Ignatius Parish at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 19 and again in Seattle at St. Joseph Church Monday, May 21 at 5 p.m. A Memorial Mass will be held at Little Flower Parish in Browning, Montana on Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 7 p.m. Contact the Jesuit Provincial Office for details if interested in attending (503) 226-6977. Fr. McHugh was born March 2, 1921 to Charles and Christene McHugh. After growing up in Seattle, he entered the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus in 1938. Fr. McHugh finished all of the required Jesuit training and was ordained to the priesthood June 15, 1951 at St. Mary's Church in San Francisco. Soon after ordination he was stricken with polio. Surrounded with caring Jesuit companions, he made a long and courageous road to recovery. His work in the Oregon Province had an extraordinary breadth and vitality. From 1955- 1960 he was a teacher at Seattle Preparatory School. He then went to the Jesuit Novitiate- Juniorate in Sheridan, Oregon to be the rector of the large community there. In 1965 he became pastor of St. Ignatius Church in Portland, Oregon, remaining until 1970. The following year he was named pastor of St. Joseph Church in Seattle, where he worked until 1974. From there he moved to Havre, where he was assistant pastor and then pastor until 1985. After his time in Havre he traveled to Browning, where he was welcomed as pastor and assistant pastor until he retired to the Jesuit Infirmary at Gonzaga University in Spokane in 2002. After many distinguished careers, all marked by the fidelity, honesty, generosity, patience, and loving kindness that he never stopped extending to all around him, Fr. McHugh came to Browning and the Blackfeet Nation. It was as if his great heart brought him there and the great hearts of the Blackfeet People waited to embrace him. He became more quiet, simple, and direct during his years in Browning. The integrity and openness of his life touched the Blackfeet People deeply. Their wisdom, kindness and respect carried him to the final part of his road, where in his silence, his suffering, his waiting, his body became more and more a sacred reality, transparent, and radiant with the life of God. In the Jesuit Infirmary at Gonzaga Fr. McHugh's journey became complete. He and Jesus became one reality. Fr. McHugh's life was one long teaching. He showed all who knew him how to live the Christian way of life fully. In the last days of his life, holding the crucifix in his hands resting on his round tummy, immensely grateful for all of the help and prayers surrounding him, he showed all of us the way to die. The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus has enjoyed many men of extraordinary stature. Fr. McHugh was certainly one of them. He will continue to guide and nurture us through his prayers as we journey along the Way. Teacher, pastor, chaplain, rector, speaker, hero, friend, master of the Jesuit "Spiritual Exercises," living embodiment of the Jesuit way of life. Fr. McHugh was well known throughout the entire Pacific Northwest for his compassionate heart, creative imagination, enduring wit, and profound wisdom. Just the thought of his continuing presence in the world, his life of prayer for all, brought joy and peace to the hearts and minds of all who revered him. Donations in memory of Fr. Mike McHugh, S.J. may be sent to the Jesuit Senior Fund, Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, P.O. Box 86010, Portland, Oregon 97286. Arrangements entrusted to Hennessey Smith Funeral Home of Spokane, Wash.