Jesuit Father Edward “Ned” J. Coughlin died on June 25 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Newburgh, New York, after a brief illness. Age 69, he was born in New York City on September 27, 1944, the son of William and Elizabeth (Dunn) Coughlin. He was a Jesuit for 51 years and a priest for 40 years.
After graduating from Xavier High School in 1962 he entered the Society of Jesus on August 14, 1962, at St. Andrew-on-Hudson in Poughkeepsie, New York. Following his first vows and collegiate studies there, he studied philosophy at Loyola Seminary in Shrub Oak, New York (1966-68). From 1969 to 1971 he taught Latin at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City and then advanced to theology at Woodstock College in New York from 1971 to 1975, receiving the Master of Divinity degree in that final year.
He was ordained to the priesthood at Fordham University by Terence Cardinal Cooke on June 8, 1974. From 1975 to 1981 he returned to St. Peter’s Prep in the classroom and also as chaplain. There he developed the Emmaus Retreat Program for high school students and young adults based on themes from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. This program, the Emmaus Project, spread widely and is still followed today. From 1984 to 1986 he served as the 49th Headmaster of Xavier High School.
He then moved from the classroom and administration to the retreat ministry, assisting in campus ministry at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York (1986-93). He was then assigned to retreat ministry at the Linwood Spiritual Center in Rhinebeck, New York (1994-98).
In 1998 Fr. Coughlin took up the most challenging position as administrator and then pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in New York (1998-2006). He was able to guide the renewal and healing at that extraordinary urban parish, reaching out and bringing together all segments of the diverse congregation. After a sabbatical, he headed north in 2007 to the more peaceful and quite space of the Jogues Retreat Center in Cornwall, New York. He served there as superior and host to many seeking relaxation, rest and renewal. There Fr. Coughlin shared his love for the Word of God, for music, art and fine cuisine. He continued to assist part-time in local ministry there and at the Linwood Spiritual Center in Rhinebeck.