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Bishop McLaughlin, retired Buffalo, N.Y., auxiliary bishop, dies at 102


Retired Auxiliary Bishop Bernard J. McLaughlin of Buffalo, N.Y., died Jan. 5 at his home in Kenmore, N.Y. He was 102, and was the second oldest bishop in the U.S. He is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Buffalo)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (CNS) -- Retired Auxiliary Bishop Bernard J. McLaughlin of Buffalo, died Jan. 5, at his home in Kenmore at age 102 and the day before the 46th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop.

He was the second oldest U.S. bishop, just behind retired Archbishop Peter L. Gerety of Newark, New Jersey, who is four months older.

Funeral services had not yet been announced Jan. 6.

The bishop, who was born near Buffalo in North Tonawanda, New York, Nov. 19, 1912, celebrated 75 years as a priest in 2010. He served at several diocesan parishes and was the founding pastor at Buffalo's Coronation Parish. Before he was ordained a bishop in 1969 by Pope Paul VI at the Vatican, he was a diocesan chancellor and administrator. In 1988, Saint John Paul II accepted the Bishop McLaughlin's resignation.

In a 2009 interview with the Western New York Catholic, Buffalo's diocesan newspaper, Bishop McLaughlin said the key to his long life was "the goodness of the Lord. I can't take any credit for it."

He also described being a priest as "a wonderful life" with "remarkable rewards for those who accept the challenge of priesthood and faithfully live it out."

Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone said he had visited Bishop McLaughlin just before Thanksgiving and the retired bishop was asking about the diocese and what he could do to help.

Bishop Malone said the bishop's promise of prayers and his "sterling witness as priest and bishop" was "the most precious gift he could give."

He also said in a statement that Bishop McLaughlin "was very prepared to encounter his Lord. May he rest in the peace and joy in God's loving presence."

Bishop McLaughlin's last public appearance was when he concelebrated a Mass St. John the Baptist Church in Kenmore on his 100th birthday.

In 1936, he 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 Buffalo.

The retired bishop also remembered when church rules were stricter and told the diocesan paper that with the rules of "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."

In retirement, Bishop McLaughlin lived in a home within Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kenmore, where he was cared for by his niece, Susan DiCarlo. He presided at countless confirmations throughout the eight counties of Western New York. Despite failing eyesight, he continued to celebrate daily Mass at St. Timothy Church in Tonawanda well into his 90s.

Bishop McLaughlin was one of seven children of Michael and Mary Agnes McLaughlin. His father was a dispatcher for the New York Central Railroad.

Among his survivors is his nephew, Father Robert Waters, a priest of the Diocese of Buffalo.

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