Raynham, MA, May 12, 1998
LORD, YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU
His funeral Mass was an unrehearsed symphony.
Participating were diverse groups blended as one to mourn his sudden death and celebrate his Life. Ex-convicts, alcoholics in recovery, co-workers, colleagues from years past, old friends from seminary days and the Columban missions, new friends from CORPUS, members of the local Korean Community, relatives, friends of the family, neighbors, parishioners, both parish priests and towns people gathered with his wife and young adult children to honor this good gentle, patient and generous man.
Spontaneously, the six pall bearers, all married priests seated in the front row, and other married priests scattered about pronounced aloud the words of consecration in harmony with the voices of the eleven priests concelebrating at the altar. The soloist, accustomed to singing alone for parish funerals, was accompanied by resonant voices throughout the congregation who, though without printed copy, seemed to know all the words.
At the request of Oliva, his wife, to select a Gospel reading, a friend unknowingly had chosen from her own Bible, a personal favorite of John's, since it was subsequently found to be highlighted in his personal copy: John 21:15-17 ...do you love me? And he answered, "Lord you know everything, you know I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep." Always concerned about the marginal Catholic, the alienated Catholic and the newly converted non Catholic, John never stopped reaching out.
After the brief eulogy by a Columban friend, the eldest child, Peter, with arms around his sister Peggy and brother Johnnie, spoke of their father: When my mother asked me to speak here today, I answered,'Yes,' but not without much reluctance. I guess I feared that I lacked the poise and eloquence with which my father spoke that I would fail to find appropriate words to pay homage to him. . .He was not just a loving father; devoted husband or a loyal friend, he was the greatest man I have ever known...Of all the other things I have enumerated, Dad, we thank you most for loving our mother the way you did. You demonstrated to us what true love really is. To see you together was to see the most selfless, wonderful relationship this world could possibly witness.
Dad, we just want to say thanks."
John E. McLaughlin, 68, originally of Weymouth, MA, a retired probation officer, an alcohol counselor, active member of CORPUS, Federation of Christian Ministries and Call to Action died suddenly on May 12 1998, of a massive heart attack. He graduated from Boston College, and in 1955 was ordained a priest with the Columban Fathers. He served in Korea as a missionary from 1956 until his marriage to Ilok "Oliva" Park in 1972. In recent years he had lived with his family in Raynham, Massachusetts.
John was on the Region Four planning committee for the 1997 Annual National CORPUS Conference in Boston and served as a member of the region's Planning Committee through the years. He attended the most recent CTA conference in Worcester, Massachusetts and had just begun a marriage ministry. He taught CCD, was a guest CCD lecturer for Confirmation and was a regular Sunday lector at St. Ann's. In addition to attending daily Mass, John was also a prayer group participant. Anthony Padovano's timely article "Inactive Priests" Love of the Church Has Only Grown Despite the Pain," appeared in the National Catholic Reporter on May 15, 1998, the day of John's wake. At the request of his widow, 500 reprints with the addendum: "In loving memory of John E. McLaughlin called to Columban Fathers and Married Priesthood, Beloved Husband and Father," were distributed at his wake in lieu of memorial cards.
The positive responses to Anthony's article, the experiences of those who attended his funeral Mass and witnessed the impressionable testimonies spoken at his burial site have been enduring. Most assuredly, John ememplified those men of whom Anthony had written.
One can only imagine the joy experienced by a friend to whom Jesus says, Well done, good and trustworthy servant; you have shown you are trustworthy in small things; I will trust you with greater, come and join in your masters happiness.
Stu & Marie O'Brien