The Valley community will get a chance to honor one of its most beloved members today when a Memorial Mass is held for the Rev. Vincent F. Langan at the Church of the Epiphany.
Father Langan passed away on Sunday, Sept. 1 after living a life that was dedicated to service of God and his community.
The Scranton native moved to the Valley back in 1975 when he was appointed Pastor at St. John the Evangelist in South Waverly. He would later lead St. Ann’s in Bentley Creek as well as St. Joseph’s in Athens.
Father Langan served as Pastor of these parishes for 35 years until his appointment as Pastor Emeritus to St. John’s and St. Joseph’s on July 15, 2009. He was appointed Administrator Pro tem at St. Brigid, Friendsville, in 2016 before moving to Scranton.
Waverly resident Tom Mullen met Langan back in the 1970s and quickly became drawn to St. John’s church despite being a parishioner at Epiphany and later St. James.
“I gravitated towards St. John’s an awful lot, and I used to go to mass at (St. Joseph’s) when he took over,” Mullen said. “There was something about his humility. There was just a difference in him as a priest.”
Mullen recalled Father Langan’s sermons really connecting with his parishioners.
“You could tell he put a lot of thought into his sermons, but he seemed to wrap so many of his sermons up into every day life. His examples were just beautiful,” Mullen said.
Father Langan was busy as the leader of St. John’s, but he also dedicated plenty of time to being the Chaplain at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, where he brought comfort to patients and their families.
“When my mom was in the hospital at Guthrie, he would always visit and give her Communion. He was a wonderful man,” Sayre native Dale Smith said of Langan on Facebook.
“He didn’t care if you were Catholic or not, he would stop and pray with you,” added Sayre resident Cheryl Hunsinger.
Mullen confirmed that Langan cherished his role at the hospital.
“He had two passions — one was right to life work — and the other was spending time in the hospital just visiting people and offering some degree of comfort,” said Mullen. “He had great respect for the medical staff, you know like the nurses and young doctors. He would always remember their names.”
Athens resident Brian Heffron would hear stories about Father Langan as a child down in Scranton.
“Father Vince went to Saint Patrick’s High School in West Side Scranton with my father and aunts,” said Heffron, who recalled Father Langan’s reputation as a football star. “He was known always for his incredible football acumen. Everyone who knew him from back then always remarked about how he was the best running back in Scranton at the time. Although he was small in stature, he was as tough as they came.”
Heffron would get to know Father Langan through his family.
“When I was little, Father Vince would come to my Aunt Ellen’s parties. He was just another kind (and) fun person. He never made a big deal about his priesthood and treated everyone with kindness, respect and normalcy. I can remember from my childhood that he was a good listener, fun and funny,” Heffron said.
When Heffron moved to Athens in 2010, he was thrilled to be in the same community as Father Langan.
“When I moved to the Valley and realized the family ties with Father Vince, it was amazing to have such a kind, caring, pious and intelligent person to be able to spend time with,” Heffron said. “We need the kind of priests that he was — bonded by faith but grounded in reality. His love and leadership is missed.”
Father Langan’s drive to help people never slowed as he would find a way to help a family in Scranton in recent years.
Langan moved back to Scranton in 2016 and would live in the old family home where he would get to know his neighbor, a woman with four children.
When there was a spot available for him at Villa St. Joseph priest retirement home, Langan decided he wanted his neighbor to take over his home.
“He asked me to help him sell the house and he wanted the neighbor, who was a woman with four children and two of them had some kind of disability. He wanted her to have the house because she was renting next door and paying $700 a month,” said Mullen, who is a realtor. “I asked Father ‘What are you going to do with the proceeds from the house?’ And he said ‘I’m giving it all to the Propagation of Faith.’”
Mullen, along with attorney Joe Landy, figured out a way for Father Langan to transfer ownership over to his neighbor.
“What we did is we worked it out that he sold the house to Mrs. Hernandez with no down payment, and directed all the payments to go into a bank account for the Propagation of Faith,” Mullen said.
Mullen was not surprised to see Father Langan step up for one of his neighbors — because that was what he did throughout his entire life of service.
“That is a really good example of his generosity and how he did things ... He just loved people and he couldn’t do enough for them,” said Mullen. “He was just a very, very saintly man. He was a wonderful priest, but he was also one of the kindest human beings I ever knew.”
The Memorial Mass is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today at the Church of the Epiphany located on South Elmer Ave. in Sayre.