Monsignor Joseph F. Coughlin, founding pastor of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Depew, died Tuesday in Mercy Hospital. He was 85.
He served the parish for 30 years before retiring in 1995. At that time, columnist Bob Curran wrote in The Buffalo News: "I have never seen a pastor more closely identified with his parishioners than Monsignor Coughlin is with the people at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament."
A South Buffalo native, he graduated from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Elementary School, Diocesan Preparatory Seminary and Niagara University, then attended Our Lady of the Angels Seminary at Niagara University.
He was ordained by Bishop John A. Duffy on Feb. 2, 1944, in St. Joseph's New Cathedral. His first assignment was as assistant pastor at St. Boniface Church in Buffalo.
He next served for 11 years as assistant pastor at Most Holy Redeemer Church in Cheektowaga, then was named assistant pastor at St. Joseph's Cathedral in 1955. He was pastor for three years at St. Brigid's Church in Newfane before he was assigned to Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in 1965. He also was chairman of the Diocesan Priests Retirement Board.
Monsignor Coughlin served in many capacities as a police chaplain. He was chaplain of the Erie County Captains and Lieutenants Police Association, the Erie County Police Chiefs Association, the Depew Police Department and the Cheektowaga Police Department.
In 1958, when he was Buffalo police chaplain, he persuaded a young man not to commit suicide on the Thruway.
He received papal honors in 1972. In 1979, he received the National Association of Holy Name Societies' Father McKenna Award.
A member of the Blackthorn Club, which marches in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade wearing tall hats, he was grand marshal of the parade in 1979 and deputy marshal in 1986. He was named Irishman of the Year in 1994.
Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz will preside at a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church, 10 French Road, Depew. Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery, Lackawanna.