Brother Peter McLaughlin, who joined the Josephite order after combat in World War II and the Korean War, died Monday of cancer at St. Joseph's Manor in North Baltimore. He was 75.
Brother McLaughlin was an indispensable presence to the Josephite institutions he served during his nearly 40-year career.
A quiet and thoughtful man who directed maintenance duties at the order's schools, churches and seminaries, Brother McLaughlin also visited the sick and worked in youth ministry.
His assignments included stints at St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, St. Joseph Industrial School in Clayton, Del., Epiphany Apostolic College in Newburgh, N.Y., and St. Pius V Roman Catholic Church in Baltimore. He had also served Josephite missions in Louisiana and Mississippi.
"He was a very, very talented man who was also super intelligent and sharp. He had a very analytical mind," said the Rev. Eugene P. McManus, former superior general of the Josephites.
"He was extremely helpful. He would go around trouble-shooting and then would come up with a list of recommendations," he said.
A year ago, he moved to St. Joseph Manor, his order's 32-acre retirement home in the Poplar Hill section of North Baltimore.
"He locked up at night, worked in the kitchen, washed dishes and set up the dining room. Now, we have three men doing what he used to do," said the Rev. Edward J. Mullowney, rector at St. Joseph Manor.
"But the best thing he ever did was to carry the cross. This was a man who was really suffering and never asked for anything. But don't confuse meekness with weakness. He was a strong-willed, quiet, yet humble man. He was a wonderful example to everyone," said the Rev. Mullowney.
"Even though he was sick, he was up and around and all over the retirement center. He was a gentle man who willingly waited on others. And he did all of this while in exceedingly great pain. He was just an inspiration," said the Rev. McManus.
Born James Bernard McLaughlin, he was the sixth of nine children of Patrick McLaughlin and Anna Duffy McLaughlin in Irwin, Pa.
He attended parochial school at St. Colman's in Turtle Creek, Pa. In 1943, he joined the Army and saw heavy combat as a gunner during the Okinawa campaign.
After being discharged at war's end, he went to work for Westinghouse Air Brake in Pittsburgh until being recalled to active duty during the Korean War. He served in Korea as a gunner from 1951 until being discharged in 1954.
He again returned to Westinghouse, where he worked until entering the Josephite Novitiate in 1962 at the St. Joseph Center Industrial School in Clayton, Del., now the St. Joseph Center for Prayer. He made his first profession as a Josephite brother in 1963 and took the religious name of Peter.
"This is only conjecture on my part, but I think because of his wartime experiences, he thought the profound thoughts on the meaning of life, and this took him to a religious life," said the Rev. McManus.
Brother Louis J. Tomasso, a friend of 35 years who shared assignments with him in New York, Delaware and Louisiana, said, "He was unassuming and prayerful, very much like St. Joseph. He was always willing to help. If he saw something that needed to be done, he got up and did it. He liked being behind the scenes and never wanted applause or recognition," said Brother Tomasso, head of the youth ministry at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans.
A Mass of Christian burial was offered yesterday at St. Joseph Manor.
He is survived by three brothers, Dennis McLaughlin of Swissvale, Pa., John McLaughlin of Belle Vernon, Pa., and Robert McLaughlin of McKeesport, Pa.; and four sisters, Anna McLaughlin of Monroeville, Pa., Margaret Sperduto of East Pittsburgh, Pa., and Patricia Priselac and Gloria Cacco, both of Turtle Creek, Pa.