Most Reverend Bernard J. McLaughlin, auxiliary bishop emeritus of
the Diocese of Buffalo, died Monday evening, Jan. 5, 2015, at his home
in Kenmore, one day before he would have celebrated the 46th anniversary
of his ordination as a bishop.
Click here to view a Bishop McLaughlin photo gallery
He was 102, and was the second oldest living bishop in the world.
Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety, 102, archbishop emeritus of Newark, was born four months to the day before Bishop McLaughlin.
The son of the late Michael Henry McLaughlin and Mary Agnes Curran
McLaughlin, Bishop McLaughlin was born in North Tonawanda on Nov. 19,
1912. His mother was a homemaker, his father, a dispatcher for the New
York Central Railroad.
One of seven children, he attended Visitation School in Buffalo where he
was educated by the Williamsville Franciscan sisters, who, along with
Msgr. James McGloin, then pastor of St. Nicholas Parish in Buffalo,
encouraged young Bernard to consider the priesthood. He was a member of
the first graduating class of the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary in
Bishop McLaughlin will lie in state at St. John the Baptist Church,
1085 Englewood Ave., Kenmore, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.,
followed by a parish Mass, with Most Reverend Richard J. Malone, Bishop
of Buffalo, presiding. Bishop Robert J. Cunningham, Bishop of Syracuse
and a former priest of the diocese, will deliver the homily. Bishop
McLaughlin was pastor emeritus of St. John the Baptist Parish.Read Bishop McLaughlin's Obituary
Bishop McLaughlin's body will be received at St. Joseph Cathedral, 50
Franklin St., Buffalo, Friday, Jan. 9, at 2 p.m. He will lie in state
until 7 p.m., followed by Vespers, with Most Reverend Edward M. Grosz,
Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo, presiding.
His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, will
celebrate Bishop McLaughlin's Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, Jan.
10, at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo. Most Reverend
Donald W. Trautman, Bishop Emeritus of Erie, and a former priest of the
Diocese of Buffalo, will give the homily.
Burial will be in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Kenmore.
Bishop McLaughlin was ordained to the priesthood in Vatican
City on Dec. 21, 1935, and celebrated 75 years as a priest in 2010. His
assignments included St. Joseph New Cathedral, he was founding pastor
of Coronation Parish in Buffalo, he served as pastor of Blessed
Sacrament Parish in Tonawanda and St. John the Baptist Parish in
Kenmore. He was assigned to the diocesan Tribunal, served as diocesan
chancellor, and between the episcopacies of Bishop James A. McNulty and
Bishop Edward D. Head, Bishop McLaughlin led the Diocese of Buffalo as
diocesan administrator for six months.
Pope Paul VI ordained then Msgr. McLaughlin a bishop at the
Vatican on Jan. 6, 1969, making him the first priest of the Diocese of
Buffalo to be ordained a bishop by the Holy Father. On Jan. 15, 1988,
Pope John Paul II accepted his letter of resignation, at which time
Bishop McLaughlin became auxiliary bishop emeritus of Buffalo.
Over the course of his lifetime, 11 bishops have led the
Diocese of Buffalo, from Bishop Charles H. Colton to Bishop Richard J.
Malone. During that same time span, there have been ten popes, from
Pius X to Francis.
Reflecting on his priesthood, Bishop McLaughlin told the Western New York Catholic
newspaper in 2009, "It's a wonderful life and has remarkable rewards
for those who accept the challenge of priesthood and faithfully live it
out. I am especially grateful for the gift of priesthood. "
What was the key to his long life? "The goodness of the Lord," he said. "I can't take any credit for it."
Bishop Richard J. Malone said, "I last visited with Bishop
McLaughlin shortly before Thanksgiving. As in earlier conversations
with him, he was interested in developments in the diocese, affirming of
my own efforts, and expressed his availability to assist me in any way
he could. I said to him, 'Please just continue to pray for the diocese,
especially for vocations and for the New Evangelization, and for me.'
His promise to do that was, along with his sterling witness as priest
and bishop, the most precious gift he could give.
Bishop McLaughlin was very prepared to encounter his Lord. May he rest in the peace and joy in God's loving presence."
His final public appearance was on Nov. 19, 2012, when he
con-celebrated a Mass St. John the Baptist Church in Kenmore, on his
At a Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral in 2009 to mark Bishop
McLaughlin's 97th birthday, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of
New York and now a cardinal, said, "He was ordained a bishop in 1969.
Bishop McLaughlin, in 1969, I broke up with my girlfriend to enter the
Listen to a WNY Catholic Weekly podcast about Bishop McLaughlin
In 1936, then Father McLaughlin attended the funeral of Father
Nelson Baker at Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna. "He
certainly did remarkable things," Bishop McLaughlin recalled of the
priest whose sainthood cause is being promoted by the Diocese of
He also remembered a Church when life was stricter: "When
rules of the Church were stronger, abstinence, fasting, and so on, the
faith seemed to be deeper rooted than it is today. I think the people
would like to be challenged," he said. "You can't give them everything
they want. We don't want them to lose their soul because of us."
In retirement, Bishop McLaughlin lived in a home within Mount
Olivet Cemetery in Kenmore, where he was lovingly cared for by his
niece, Susan DiCarlo. He presided at countless confirmations throughout
the eight counties of Western New York, confirming thousands of young
Catholics. Despite failing eyesight, he continued to celebrate daily
Mass at St. Timothy Church in Tonawanda well into his 90s.
Among his survivors is his nephew, Father Robert Waters, a priest of the Diocese of Buffalo.
Watch the ministry of Bishop McLaughlin in this Daybreak TV Productions video