by Vicky Chan
I knew Fr. Hugh for over 45 years. He was a big presence in the parish during his time here. Because of his warmth and dynamism, he made the parish vibrant 24/7. His biggest commitment was to Parish Renewal. He wanted to draw parishioners, particularly the young to become more involved. He made it both fun and meaningful to be active in Church. As my niece Caren says, he gave the youth a voice in the parish. He established the annual Flores de Mayo, which would give our children a chance to offer flowers to Mama Mary every day in May. He helped establish Luke 18 and Antioch for adolescents and older teens to get to know each other and learn about their Faith during critical formative years. He formed the Circle of Saint Anthony (COSA) for young professionals, which I was part of. He also helped build the parish center, which would be a hub for these groups as well as for parish gatherings. One of the reasons that made it easy for Fr. Hugh to attract all these groups and young folks was that he was a cool priest. I cannot forget the time the parish center was very new and he allowed COSA to set up a horror booth as part of one of the parish activities. We mistakenly got black paints all over the newly painted walls but he did not scold us for it.
Many of the seeds of Parish Renewal that Fr. Hugh planted continue to blossom and are key parts of the vibrant parish we have today. For that we will always be thankful.
Aside from being our priest, he was a good friend to me, my family and a lot of parishioners. I last saw Fr. Hugh in 1992. He was heading back to the US, but before he did, he joined a group of parishioners, I included, for a Europe tour, where we got to visit Rome and Fatima. We have not seen each other since, but Fr. Hugh, ever thoughtful, would never fail to send cards or letters for my birthday and for Christmas.
Fr. Hugh, thank you for all your contributions to the Santuario de San Antonio. We will truly miss you.
As published in the October 16 issue of the Parish Bulletin.