Msgr. Peter Coughlin, middle, is joined by Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, Archishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, and by Hamilton Bishop Douglas Crosby, right, at Christ the King Cathedral in Hamilton this past March. The occasion was a special service to mark Coughlin’s elevation to Monsignor. Photo courtesy Diocese of Hamilton

Msgr. Coughlin led charismatic renewal

  • September 5, 2018

Like Job, Msgr. Peter Coughlin understood that everything in his life was God’s will. 

So despite a number of afflictions that would have slowed most people down, Msgr. Coughlin — founder and editor of Your Bread of Life magazine and a leader in the Catholic charismatic renewal movement in Canada — continued to serve his ministry in the Church right until the end.

Msgr. Coughlin passed away Aug. 25 with family and friends at his side at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ont. He was 76.

Friends remembered the priest from the Diocese of Hamilton for his personal example. He had lived for many years with illness — he’d had a heart attack, quintuple bypass surgery, was on dialysis because of kidney failure and suffered from progressive muscular dystrophy — yet he was not one to wallow in pity for himself.

“Although he joked that he lived the life of Job, he never complained about his afflictions,” said Jim Ruta, a close friend and long-time director of Your Bread of Life magazine and ministry which Msgr. Coughlin founded and ran for four decades. “He accepted it with grace and with the love of God…. He gave up his afflictions to the Lord for the grace of others.” 

Msgr. Coughlin officially retired in 2014, stepping away from St. Andrew Parish in Oakville, Ont. But he did not want to stop ministering and accepted an appointment as chaplain for the Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Joseph’s Convent in Dundas, Ont., where he said Mass every day he wasn’t at dialysis. And he never stepped away from his passion at Your Bread of Life.

“He died with his ‘boots on.’ It was his wish,” said Hamilton Bishop Douglas Crosby. 

“He knew God had a job for him and he would do it and never retire,” said Ruta. “We talked about it many times — he would be on this Earth as long as God wanted him to be, not a moment less, not a moment longer.”

Msgr. Coughlin is best known for his work in the charismatic renewal movement, where he was a “rock star,” said Ruta. 

He recalls an event he attended with the wheelchair-bound monsignor in Louisiana a few years back.

“People crowded in to hear every word. People bought his books, begged him to pray for them and their families. They wanted to touch him,” he said.

Ruta said Msgr. Coughlin would connect with people from around the world who asked him to pray for them for healing.

“God was touching people through Peter. He was doing God’s work. He felt so blessed that he could help others that way.”

A prolific writer, he penned a number of books and many hundreds of articles for Your Bread of Life. His final book, Walking in the Spirit, is a collection of his favourite editorials over the past 40 years and will be released Sept. 15 at the 41st Bread of Life Day of Renewal.

Msgr. Coughlin was born Oct. 11, 1941 and was ordained to the priesthood for the Hamilton diocese in 1967. He served in a number of parishes throughout the diocese, as well as with the Companions of the Cross at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Ottawa. He also served as a missionary in Mexico.

A funeral Mass was held Aug. 31 at the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King in Hamilton and he is interred at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

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