As the 11:30 Mass was about to begin on Sunday morning, April 26, at St. John the Evangelist Church in Canton, pastor Fr. Mike McLellan collapsed and died suddenly. He was 64 and had been pastor of the Canton parish since February 2008.
Fr. Mike, as he was affectionately called, came to Jamaica Plain in October 1991 to take charge of the Blessed Sacrament Parish. At the time, the great church was closed due to structural weakness, but repairs were underway. At Christmas Eve, he happily presided at the first Mass in five years to the delight of many parishioners. The centennial of the parish was quietly celebrated with a Mass of Thanksgiving in June 1992.
Born in Norwood on Nov. 5, 1950, and raised in Walpole, he was the son of the late Howard and Eileen (Walsh) McLellan and came from a family of six. After graduating from Walpole High School in 1968, he began his studies for the priesthood initially at the Cardinal O’Connell Seminary on S. Huntington Avenue. He was ordained on May 15, 1976. His brother, Dan McLellan was ordained a priest with the Franciscan Fathers days earlier. The two brothers celebrated their first Mass together at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Walpole on the following Sunday, May 16.
His assignments as parochial vicar included St. Margaret Parish (1976-1977) and St. Paul in Dorchester (1977-1987); St. Columbkille Parish in Brighton (1987-1988); and St. Patrick in Roxbury (1988-1991). Having learned to speak Spanish, he related well to the Spanish-speaking community in all his assignments.
In May, 2004, the Archdiocese announced the suppression of Blessed Sacrament Parish as part of an overall reconfiguration of parishes throughout the Archdiocese. The final Masses were celebrated at Blessed Sacrament on the weekend of Aug. 28-29, 2004. In September 2004, Fr. Mike returned to Dorchester to become administrator of Holy Family Parish formed out of the previous St. Paul Parish and St. Kevin Parish in the Uphams Corner section.
Members of the Hispanic choir from St. Thomas Aquinas and Our Lady of Lourdes in Jamaica Plain journeyed to St. John Church in Canton on April 30 for an 8 p.m. Mass celebrated by Msgr. Charles Bourque. Many parishioners from Jamaica Plain also attended his funeral Mass on May 1, with Boston archbishop Cardinal Seán O’Malley presiding. Fr. Dan McLellan delivered a touching eulogy for his brother. Interment followed at St. Mary Cemetery in Canton.