Deacon Joseph McHugh, who served in Merchantville, dies

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Deacon Joseph McHugh, 82, of Pennsauken, a permanent deacon at Saint Peter Parish in Merchantville for the past 15 years, died Dec. 2.

Prior to his retirement, Deacon McHugh was employed at BASF in Piscataway for many years.

In May of 1979, he was ordained a permanent deacon and served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Maple Shade, before beginning his ministry at Saint Peter’s.

Deacon McHugh was a member of the Knights of Columbus, an avid golfer and member of the Pennsauken Country Club, a talented woodworker, and a lover of all things Irish, especially Notre Dame football.

Deacon Leo McBlain, director of Personnel for the diocesan Office of the Permanent Diaconate, recalled Deacon McHugh as a leader and visionary during the early years of the permanent diaconate in South Jersey.

“He was one of the old timers,” Deacon McBlain said, who entered “formation and ministry when the church had little understanding of where the modern permanent diaconate was headed.”

“Joe had his own vision and he was very energetic in reaching out to many people and encouraging them in whatever difficulties they were experiencing,” he added.

Deacon McBlain also mentioned that Deacon McHugh frequently put his skills as a salesman to use in his ministry. “He used his communication skills very effectively for the church,” he said.

Deacon McHugh was the husband of the late Patricia A. (nee Shipe) for 61 years; father of Kathleen McHugh, Maureen McHugh, Eileen (Bill) Weaver, and Thomas (Melissa); grandfather of 10, great-grandfather of four; brother of Elizabeth Falzone and brother-in-law of Donna (Howard) Walker. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Saint Peter Church Nov. 30. Interment followed at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Moorestown.

The family requests memorial donations be made to St. Vincent DePaul Society c/o St. Peter’s Church, 43 West Maple Avenue, Merchantville, 08109.