Retired Bishop Edward T. Hughes of Metuchen, N.J., who was described as an untiring and outspoken defender of life, died Christmas Day. He was 92. (CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Metuchen)

METUCHEN, N.J. (CNS) — Retired Bishop Edward T. Hughes of Metuchen, N.J., a former auxiliary bishop and priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, died Christmas Day. He was 92.

A funeral Mass was scheduled for Jan. 4 in the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Metuchen. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, will celebrate the liturgy.

Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski of Metuchen mourned the bishop’s death in a Dec. 26 statement, describing him as a “faithful and humble servant” of God.

“Bishop Hughes was an untiring and outspoken defender of all human life and an implacable foe or racism and bigotry. His legacy to the people of Metuchen will be his uncompromising witness, given with gentleness but never wavering,” Bishop Bootkoski said.

Known as a strong advocate for Catholic education, Bishop Hughes also was a much-sought retreat leader, Bishop Bootkoski added.

The spiritual leader of the Metuchen Diocese noted that, despite serious illness during the last year, Bishop Hughes participated in the diocese’s annual Respect Life Mass and the ordination of three priests and continued to administer the rite of confirmation.

“The whole thrust of Bishop Hughes’ ministry was building up the faith in the people of God. He felt driven to preach the word of God and, like Blessed John Paul II, he showed us all how to endure suffering. He always appreciated and cherished the gift of life, given to him by God,” Bishop Bootkoski added.

Cardinal McCarrick described his late friend as someone who gave the people of the diocese a “real sense of holiness and an ideal to strive for, the ideal of service and the ideal of living in the presence of God.”

“Perhaps Bishop Hughes’ greatest gift was the gift of himself,” Cardinal McCarrick said in a statement released by the Metuchen Diocese. “He gave himself totally and absolutely. There was nothing more important in his life than to serve the people of Metuchen.”

Born Nov. 13, 1920 in Lansdowne, Pa., Bishop Hughes was named the second bishop of Metuchen in December 1986 after serving for 10 years as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1947 in Philadelphia.