Duxbury parish comes together in prayer, solidarity after family tragedy

DUXBURY -- In the wake of an unthinkable tragedy, the members of Holy Family Parish in Duxbury were quick to come together in prayer and solidarity. Not long after that, the husband and father of the victims spoke out, demonstrating and calling for forgiveness despite his loss.

The shocking event concerned a married couple, Patrick and Lindsay Clancy -- a Microsoft employee and Mass. General Hospital labor and delivery nurse, respectively -- and their three young children. In the past, Lindsay Clancy had admitted experiencing postpartum depression after the birth of her youngest child. On the evening of Jan. 24, she allegedly strangled her children, Cora, age five; Dawson, three; and Callan, eight months. She then apparently tried to commit suicide by jumping out a window. Cora and Dawson were pronounced dead at the hospital that night. Callan went into intensive care but died three days later. As of press time, Lindsay Clancy remains in critical care at a Boston hospital and is expected to face multiple charges, including homicide, upon her release.

The two younger Clancy children had been baptized at Holy Family Parish in Duxbury, where Father Robert Deehan serves as pastor. Immediately after the events of Jan. 24, Father Deehan took it upon himself to get in touch with Patrick Clancy. Since then, the church has been providing spiritual care to the Clancys and their extended family.

On Jan. 25, the church remained open for people in the community to come and pray. Father Deehan visited Patrick Clancy, who was staying at his parents' home, and gave the anointing of the sick and apostolic pardon to Lindsay Clancy, who was unconscious at the hospital.

Members and relatives of the parish staff made Father Deehan aware of "a groundswell of interest" in having some way to pray together for the Clancys and the first responders.

"We got a sense that there was a need in many different ways, not only (for) those directly affected, who saw the horrific images of the children and Lindsay, but also the community who couldn't fathom how something like this could happen," Father Deehan said in a Jan. 30 interview.

In a very short amount of time, the parish leadership organized a candlelight vigil, which took place Jan. 26. Word of the event spread quickly through social media platforms, including a Duxbury Helping Duxbury page on Facebook.

Father Deehan estimated the vigil was attended by over 500 people, including Lindsay Clancy's colleagues from Mass. General Hospital and many first responders. The service included periods of silence and instrumental music, as well as readings and prayers. The attendees lit candles and offered prayers for the Clancy family, emergency responders and medical personnel, and all those suffering from mental illness. They closed by singing "Let There Be Peace on Earth."

Father Deehan said he was "overwhelmed" and "gratified" by how many people later expressed to him "how much they appreciated that opportunity to come together as a community, just to be together, to pray and comfort each other."

He said he thinks the tragedy particularly affected the parents of young children.

"I think many came with that sense of solidarity with this young family who was grieving," he said.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help Patrick Clancy pay for medical bills, funeral arrangements, and legal support. A Jan. 28 update on the page featured a letter written by Patrick Clancy, expressing his love for his family and gratitude for all who have supported them.

"The warmth I've received from the community is palpable, and your generosity gives me hope that I can focus on some sort of healing," he said.

He also expressed forgiveness for his wife and asked all others to forgive her as well.

"I want to ask all of you that you find it deep within yourselves to forgive Lindsay, as I have. The real Lindsay was generously loving and caring towards everyone -- me, our kids, family, friends, and her patients. The very fibers of her soul are loving. All I wish for her now is that she can somehow find peace," Patrick Clancy said.

"I promise I'll put all my energy into healing and rediscovering my purpose," he said, "I owe that to all of you, Duxbury fire and police, our compassionate healthcare workers, our local faith leaders, the Microsoft community, and especially Cora, Dawson, and Callan. I don't know how or when I'll be able to do it, but your love and generosity will help me get started. I know that love always wins."