Fr. Joseph Loftus dies

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Father Joseph J. Loftus, a retired diocesan priest who had been in residence at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Arlington for more than a dozen years, died April 2 in Scranton, Pa. He was 82.

Father Loftus would have celebrated the 55th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood May 5. Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde will celebrate a funeral Mass April 7 at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church in Dunmore, Pa., at 11 a.m. The bishop will celebrate a memorial Mass May 10 at Our Lady of Lourdes at 10 a.m.

"I am sincerely grateful for Father Loftus's nearly 55 years of faithful service as a priest," said Bishop Loverde. "While he was initially a La Salette priest, he became a priest of the Diocese of Arlington and served the faithful of this diocese in various roles, as parochial vicar, pastor and priest in residence. His love for our Blessed Mother was reflected in his priestly life and ministry.

"To the Loftus family, I pledge the prayers of our diocesan Church, beseeching our heavenly Father to grant Father Loftus eternal life with Him in heaven, our true home," the bishop said.

Father Robert E. Avella, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, said Father Loftus was involved at the parish in many ways, such as hearing confessions and celebrating weekend Masses. "He was well loved by the parishioners, especially for his sermons," said Father Avella.

Joseph Loftus was born March 1, 1929, in Jessup, Pa., one of 13 children of Edward and Frances Loftus. He graduated from St. Patrick High School, Olyphant, Pa., in 1946; La Salette Junior College, Milford, Iowa, in 1950; and La Salette Seminary, Ipswich, Mass., in 1952. He was one of nine seminarians ordained May 5, 1956, at La Salette Major Seminary in Ipswich. After ordination he served as professor and prefect of discipline in the minor seminary.

From 1957 to 1962, he served as associate pastor in the Brentwood Diocese, England. Upon his return to the United States he was appointed associate pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Hartford, Conn., as well as principal of the parish school.

Father Loftus then joined the La Salette mission band, a renewal group, for five years. In 1969, he became founding pastor of the first La Salette parish in the Atlanta Archdiocese. After serving in Minnesota, Father Loftus headed back to Connecticut where he was appointed associate pastor of St. James Parish in Danielson and named principal of the parish school.

He entered the Arlington Diocese in 1975 as an assistant director of counseling at Arlington Hospital. He began to work unofficially at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, followed by St. Mary Church in Alexandria. He was incardinated into the diocese in 1982.

Father Loftus served as pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Arlington, 1981-87; as associate pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Alexandria, 1987-88; as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Manassas, 1988-90; as pastor of Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Luray, 1990-92; and as pastor of St. John Bosco Parish in Woodstock, 1992-96.

In 1996, he had open heart surgery and was transferred to St. Philip Church in Falls Church where he served as pastor until his retirement in 1998.

During his years of priestly service, Father Loftus served as chaplain of the Knights of Columbus; chaplain of the Court of the Holy Family of the Catholic Daughters of America; past member of the Clergy Personnel Board; and member of the Presbyteral Council representing retired priests.

Father Loftus moved to an assisted living facility in Scranton a few weeks ago to be closer to his family.

Messages of condolence may be sent to the Loftus family, c/o Jane Wagner, 208 N. Blakely St., Apt. 105, Dunmore, Pa., 18512.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2011