Tonawanda News

November 14, 2012

Bishop celebrates 100th birthday

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The second oldest bishop in the United States will celebrate his 100th birthday next week in Tonawanda. 

Bishop Bernard J. McLaughlin, a North Tonawanda native and the auxiliary bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Buffalo, will become a centenarian on Monday, when a mass will be held at at St. John the Baptist Church in Kenmore, where he served as pastor in the 1970s. 

McLaughlin is the sixth oldest living bishop in the world, and the second oldest in the country behind Archbishop Peter L. Gerety of Newark, who is four months older than McLaughlin. 

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, while he also was founding pastor of Coronation Parish in Buffalo and served as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Tonawanda and St. John the Baptist Parish in Kenmore.

The celebration will be led by Western New York’s current Catholic leader, Bishop Richard J. Malone, as well as Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, who retired earlier this year. 

“Bishop McLaughlin’s presence and his holy priesthood have been a blessing to the church of Buffalo,” Malone said. “He has always been a beautiful example of selfless, dedicated service to the people of God, and I pray that our Heavenly Father will continue to provide our dear bishop with good health and abundant blessings.”

Over the course of McLaughlin’s lifetime, 11 bishops have led the Diocese of Buffalo, from Bishop Charles H. Colton to Malone. During that same time span, there have been nine popes, from Pius X to Benedict XVI.

The son of the late Michael Henry McLaughlin and Mary Agnes Curran McLaughlin, the auxiliary bishop emeritus was born in North Tonawanda. One of seven children, he attended Visitation School in Buffalo and was a member of the first graduating class of the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary.

In retirement, Bishop McLaughlin presided at countless confirmations throughout Western New York and continued to celebrate daily mass at St. Timothy Church in Tonawanda well into his 90s.

“I am especially grateful for the gift of priesthood,” McLaughlin said, in a stament released by the diocese Tuesday. 

Pope Paul VI ordained him a bishop at the Vatican on Jan. 6, 1969, making him the first priest from the area to be ordained a bishop by a pope. On Jan. 15, 1988, Pope John Paul II accepted his letter of resignation, at which time McLaughlin became auxiliary bishop emeritus of Buffalo.

McLaughlin will celebrate his 100th birthday at noon Monday during a Mass at St. John the Baptist Church, 1085 Englewood Ave. Bishop Donald W. Trautman, bishop emeritus of Erie, Pa., and a native of Buffalo, will give

the homily.