James T. McHugh

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James Thomas McHugh
Bishop of Rockville Centre
SeeRockville Centre
InstalledJanuary 4, 2000
Term endedDecember 10, 2000
PredecessorJohn R. McGann
SuccessorWilliam Murphy
Other postsAuxiliary Bishop of Newark (1988-89)
Bishop of Camden (1989-98)
Coadjutor Bishop of Rockville Centre (1998-2000)
OrdinationMay 25, 1957
ConsecrationJanuary 25, 1988
Personal details
Born(1932-01-03)January 3, 1932
Orange, New Jersey
DiedDecember 10, 2000(2000-12-10) (aged 68)
Rockville Centre, New York
DenominationRoman Catholic Church

James Thomas McHugh (January 3, 1932 – December 10, 2000) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Camden (1989–98) and Bishop of Rockville Centre (2000).

Early life and education[edit]

James McHugh was born in Orange, New Jersey, to James T. and Caroline (née Scavone) McHugh.[1] He received his early education at the parochial school of St. Venantius Church, and attended Our Lady of the Valley High School in Orange.[2] He attended Seton Hall University in South Orange, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in classical languages.[1] He then began his studies for the priesthood at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, receiving a Master of Divinity degree.[2]


On May 25, 1957, McHugh was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.[3] His first assignment was as a curate at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newark, and he afterwards served at Holy Trinity Church in Fort Lee.[1] He served as a member of the Archdiocesan Family Life Committee from 1962 to 1965.[2]

In addition to his pastoral duties, McHugh did graduate work in sociology at Fordham University in New York City from 1963 to 1965.[1] He served as moderator of the Bergen County Catholic Physicians' Guild (1964–65) and of the Bergen County Catholic Nurses' Council (1963–65).[2] He continued his studies in sociology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. from 1965 to 1967.[2] In 1965, he joined the staff of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, where he served as director of the Family Life Bureau (1965–75), director of the National Right to Life Committee (1967), and of the Office of Pro-Life Activities (1972–78).[1][4] While in that position he caused controversy when in response to President Nixon's July 1969 proposal of federal funding of artificial contraception as a means of population control McHugh said the President's message was "a positive and constructive approach to the problem."[5] He was named a papal chamberlain in 1971, and raised to the rank of honorary prelate in 1986.[1]

McHugh was a visiting lecturer in theology at Princeton Theological Seminary (1974), Immaculate Conception Seminary (1976–81), and American College of Louvain in Belgium (1976).[2] He became director of Diocesan Development Program for Natural Family Planning in 1981.[1] From 1978 to 1981, he studied moral theology with a concentration in medical ethics at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology.[1] He then served as a visiting lecturer at the Pontifical Lateran University in 1982.[2] He served as special assistant at the World Synod of Bishops on "The Christian Family in the Contemporary World" in 1980, and was appointed to the delegation of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in 1983.[2] He was appointed archdiocesan vicar for Parish and Family Life in 1986.[2]



On November 20, 1987, McHugh was appointed auxiliary bishop of Newark and titular bishop of Morosbisdus by Pope John Paul II.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on January 25, 1988 from Archbishop Theodore Edgar McCarrick, with Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety and Bishop Walter William Curtis serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.[3] He selected as his episcopal motto: Quid retribuam Domino, meaning, "What shall I return to the Lord" (Psalms 116:12).[6]


Following the retirement of Bishop George Henry Guilfoyle, McHugh was named the fifth Bishop of Camden on May 13, 1989.[3] His installation took place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on June 20 of that year.[3] During his nine-year tenure, he undertook a major reorganization of the diocese's administrative structure and authorized the relocation of the diocesan headquarters to downtown Camden.[7] He presided over a diocesan synod in September 1992.[7] Highly dedicated to the cause of Catholic education, he created a $63 million Catholic Education Endowment Fund for schools and religious education programs, a five-point plan to reinvigorate Catholic high schools, and led a grassroots effort to support school choice legislation in the state legislature.[2]

A strong opponent of abortion, he was a leading member of the National Conference of Bishops' Pro-Life Committee, and was known as the "father of the pro-life movement in America."[7] He served as a delegate at United Nations-sponsored conferences on the environment (1992 in Rio de Janeiro) and on population and development (1994 in Cairo).[2]

Rockville Centre[edit]

He was appointed coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre on December 7, 1998, effective February 22, 1999. He succeeded to the office of diocesan bishop by right of succession on January 4, 2000, and he remained in that office until his death on December 10, 2000.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Bishop McHugh's Biography". Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Previous Bishops". Blessed Pope John XXIII Parish. Archived from the original on 2011-10-08.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Bishop James Thomas McHugh". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015.[self-published source]
  4. ^ "The National Right to Life Committee: its founding, its history, and the emergence of the pro-life movement prior to Roe v. Wade". Cathol Hist Rev. 97 (3): 527–57. 2011. doi:10.1353/cat.2011.0098. PMID 22069796.
  5. ^ The Editor (September 1969). Leap into What?. Triumph. |access-date= requires |url= (help)CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Bishop McHugh's Coat of Arms Explained". Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre.
  7. ^ a b c "Bishop James T. McHugh". Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John R. McGann
Bishop of Rockville Centre
Succeeded by
William F. Murphy
Preceded by
George H. Guilfoyle
Bishop of Camden
Succeeded by
Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Newark, New Jersey
Succeeded by