Bishop William J. McNaughton, M.M.


Bishop William J. McNaughton, M.M., a Maryknoll missionary who served for 41 years as the first bishop of Incheon, South Korea, died Feb. 3 at Cedar View Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Methuen, Mass. He was 93.

The bishop attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council, 1962-1965.

His Funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 11 at Our Lady of Good Counsel-St. Theresa Church in Methuen. A Memorial Mass was offered Feb.18 at Maryknoll Society Center in Ossining.

Before his ordination for Maryknoll in 1953, he was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission Region in Korea, where he served after language study at Yale University.

In South Korea, he served as a pastor in Cheongju, 1955-1957. In 1957, he opened a parish in the same city and was pastor there until 1960.

On June 6, 1961, St. Pope John XXIII raised the status of the Incheon area to an apostolic vicariate. Father McNaughton was named a bishop and appointed apostolic vicar of Incheon.

On March 10, 1962, St. Pope John XXIII raised all apostolic vicariates in South Korea to the status of dioceses, and Bishop McNaughton became the first bishop of the Diocese of Incheon.
The bishop said the Second Vatican Council’s “greatest highlight” was the approval of “Lumen Gentium,” the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which he called “a magnificent document.”
Over the years, the Diocese of Incheon expanded greatly. The bishop’s achievements included holding a diocesan synod in 1999-2000 and opening an Incheon diocesan seminary.

In 2014, ahead of Pope Francis’ trip to South Korea, Bishop McNaughton spoke to the CNS Rome bureau to share his perspectives on what the pontiff would discover about the Catholic Church. “The blood of martyrs is why the Church is so strong in Korea,” said Bishop McNaughton, noting the more than 10,000 Korean Catholics killed for their faith between 1785 and 1886, 124 of whom Pope Francis beatified during his trip.

One legacy of that persecution is the prominent role for lay Catholics in South Korea, he said. “Evangelizers are not so much the priests and the sisters as the very persons themselves, the Catholic laity,” he explained.

Bishop McNaughton retired in 2002. The bishop was assigned to serve the Maryknoll retirement community in Ossining.

Born in Lawrence Mass, he entered Maryknoll Apostolic College in Clarks Summit, Pa., in 1944. He completed his studies for the priesthood at Maryknoll Seminary, Ossining.

Burial was in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Lowell, Mass.


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