Father Pugh Remembered, by Tom & Theresa Gagliano
I left the seminary after completing theology in 1971 but the friendship with Father Pugh remained. Father Pugh married me and my wife Theresa in 1989. He celebrated with us our 25th year Anniversary Mass in 2004. There were some gaps in our relationship during the years of married life and the raising of a family but Father Pugh was always there for us. During the last few years of his life our friendship continued to grow. He indeed was a spiritual mentor who help us through some very difficult times. Our days of seminary life were frequently recalled with fond memories.
In remember Father Pugh one cannot forget that he was a priest who endured much pain and suffering. Chronic back pain began in the early years of seminary life. During the last five years of his life physical pain was a daily companion. Hospitalizations, doctor visits, and falls were frequent occurrences. Knowing Father Pugh I would suspect that he would often pray for the Father to remove his cup of suffering but his life shows his acceptance of God’s will. Father Pugh was well acquainted with the Book of Job. The last scripture class Father taught was on the Book of Job which I attended which several years ago.
On April 29, 1967 Father Pugh was clothed with his priestly chasuble by Bishop Durick and Father Pugh wore that priestly chasuble of service for 52 yrs unblemished, without spot or wrinkle. The last time my wife and I had dinner with him was about two weeks before his death at one of his favorite restaurants. Colletta’s on Applying Way. When we picked him up he was wearing his cassock. I could not help thinking how proudly he wore that badge of identification which represented Christ and the priesthood. As he collapsed to the floor on the day of his death he was wearing his cassock.
Father Pugh never made an all star team in any sports field. Since Father was a tall man (6’4″) I asked him during our last meal together ifhe every played basketball. I don’t know why I had not asked that question earlier in his life Father said he played once but it was not a pretty sight on the court. Father’s coach put Jimmy in the game briefly and Jim literally walked the ball down the Court. A fan yelled from the bleachers “get that klutz off the court”. Father never forgot that fan’s remark. Father Pugh may not have been an all-star on any sports team but he was an all-star on the only team that really matters in life. Father Pugh was an all-star on God’s team .. He was an all-star on Christ’s priestly team and that honor no one will ever take from him. Christ called Father Pugh on the morning of August 9, 2019 to the eternal Court of Heaven where the jeering and taunts of earthly crowds are gone forever.
Rest in peace Father Pugh. We love you! We miss you-until we meet again.
Tom & Theresa Gagliano