Farewell to the Father

By on August 23, 2019

 

Father John McLoughlin, above, speaks during “Blue Mass,” which honors local first responders and recognizes those who lost their lives while serving communities across Pennsylvania. OMPH has held the service since 2009.

 

 

‘Father John,’ OMPH Pastor, Ephrata Police Chaplain, leaves after 11 years in Ephrata

By Patrick Burns

August 7, 2019

Rev. “Father John” McLoughlin, a larger-than-life character who ceaselessly interacted with students, faculty, and parishioners of Our Mother of Perpetual Help church and school, said his last mass as OMPH Pastor on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Father John left his Ephrata parish home of 11 years to begin his two new parish assignments at St. Gerard’s Parish in Lima, Ohio and St. Mary’s Parish in Bluffton, Ohio. where he will also be ministering as the Catholic Chaplain at Bluffton College.

A reception was held following Sunday’s mass at Black Forest Brewery where the new pastor – another “Father John,” fellow Redemptorist priest and New York City transplant – Rev. John Murray was introduced.

He’ll have big shoes to fill replacing Rev. McLoughlin, said Ephrata Police Chief Bill Harvey.

The chief relied heavily on the former OMPH pastor as the police Chaplin &tstr; who on more than one occasion helped defuse domestic incidents involving suicidal or possibly violent and distraught individuals.

“In his role as Police Chaplain (Father John) touched so many lives, oftentimes for some folks on their worst of days,” Harvey said. “His presence offered strength to many who were grieving.”

McLoughlin, a proud, second-generation Irishman who grew up in Brooklyn, enjoyed razzing OMPH parishioners during his sermons, often praising his Mets and Giants while cracking jokes about the Philadelphia Eagles’ “deficiencies.”

“I was asked what miracles I could remember during my 11 years at OMPH,” he said Sunday. “I said it was the Eagles’ Super Bowl win; that’s not going to happen for another 11 years.”

Father John’s service at OMPH school was legendary as he delighted students, especially the younger kids, making them laugh, with acting silly and wearing crazy costumes while taking part in plays and other school productions.

He is respected greatly by other ministers in the area as well as first responders from all over Pennsylvania and nearby states who came to the annual “Blue Mass” at OMPH.

Pastor Jeffrey Goodman, Pastor of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, alternated with Father John on police Chaplain duties. He offered glowing praise for Father John while stating they were “very different men.”

“Father John” McLoughlin, OMPH Pastor, is a larger-than-life character who loves to interact with students, faculty, and parishioners. Father John (above) dressed as a pirate at “Treasure Island” fundraiser in 2015. (Photo by Patrick Burns)

Goodman pointed out that Father John served thousands of members while his is a small parish that numbers in the low hundreds and “he hails from New York City and I am from New Holland.”

Goodman emphasized Father John’s selflessness, a trait known well by all associated with OMPH.

“As busy as John is – he could use a few assistants – he always had time for me and not just for me only, but it seems anyone he encounters,” Goodman noted. “He makes time for people no matter who they are.”

Chief Harvey noted that Father John gained experience as a Police Chaplain in Baltimore and always had great respect for police and first responders. He often had groups of New York Police come to play in OMPH’s annual fundraiser golf outing.

That passion – Father John was an integral part of the Ephrata Police Department for nearly 10 years – shined through during his coordination of the Fest of St. Michael or “Blue Mass” where “he really created a new group of supporters for all of the emergency responders in the greater Ephrata area,” Harvey said.

“I have often introduced him as the Spiritual Advisory to the Chief of Police,” he said.

“His role as Police Chaplain to the officers and staff of the Ephrata Police Department was immeasurable.”

Father John McLoughlin saying mass at Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Ephrata.

In his goodbye comments to his OMPH parishioners, Father John said he has “very mixed emotions at this time of transition.”

“I am saddened that I have to leave OMPH Parish,” he said. “I definitely will be shedding some tears as I leave this awesome parish community. But I am also joyful because I know that you will continue to pray for me as I begin my next assignments in western Ohio.”

Chief Harvey echoed Father John’s sentiments and said he will be missed greatly.

“He has been with us through family celebrations, passing of loved ones and personal counsel not only to us but sometimes family members,” he said.

Rev. Goodman described his relationship with Father John this way:

“Having a friend like Father John makes me a better person by reminding me to be more open and joyful in the Faith.”

Patrick Burns is a news editor of The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at (717) 721-4455.

About Patrick Burns

Social media editor and staff writer for Ephrata Review and Lititz Record Express.

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