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Canton parish continues to heal after tragic loss of pastor


Father Michael McLellan (second from right), pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton, died before the start of a Sunday-morning Mass on April 26. He is seen here at the parish's 150th-anniversary celebration in June 2011 with, from left, Father Bryan Parrish, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley and the late Virginia Hagerty, a longtime parishioner. Pilot photo/courtesy St. John the Evangelist Parish

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Two months after the tragic death of their beloved pastor, members of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton are still going through the healing process while they await the appointment of their new spiritual leader.

Father Michael McLellan, known as "Father Mike," died unexpectedly prior to the start of the 11:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, April 26 -- Good Shepherd Sunday. The popular priest, who was first assigned to St. John the Evangelist in 2008, and also served as chaplain of the MBTA Police, was 64 years old.

Msgr. Charles Bourque, a retired priest who made St. John the Evangelist his residence seven years ago at Father McLellan's request, has been named parish administrator for the time being. Meanwhile, no timetable has been set for naming a permanent administrator, according to Father Bryan Parrish, Interim Episcopal Vicar and Secretary for Parish Life and Leadership.

Father Parrish, who grew up as a St. John the Evangelist parishioner, described Father McLellan's death as "a great loss," describing him as "a very caring pastor" who "had a shepherd's heart."

He also praised Father Bourque for his work as administrator, saying, "He's brought a lot of compassion and care and stability."

Indeed, despite the unusual circumstances of Father McLellan's sudden passing, parishioners have managed to maintain a sense of normalcy.

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