Yesterday I sang at a funeral. It was for a Catholic priest I knew; from what I was told, he had a massive heart attack at the end of last week and he died in the Intensive Care Unit at CMC on Sunday. I’d gotten a message from one of my good friends this past Wednesday asking me if I was going to sing, and I was quite surprised as I didn’t know that this particular priest had died.
The priest is Monsignor John Molan. He was “retired” from the Diocese of Manchester in 1998. Prior to that he was the Vicar General of the Diocese – basically he was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Diocese at that time.
Why I put quotes around the word “retired” is that the good Monsignor never really did retire in the classic sense. For as long as I can remember, he was always doing something. He was responsible for starting up New Hampshire Catholic Charities – the way I heard the story, he did it single-handedly. He also was almost unilaterally responsible for bringing the two Catholic hospitals in Manchester together back in the early 1970’s – Notre Dame and Sacred Heart – and forming what is now Catholic Medical Center, or CMC if you’re not familiar with Manchester. The priest who delivered the homily at the Mass yesterday mentioned that it was John who was able to gently bring two distinct and different hospital cultures together under one roof and get them to meld.
Now I personally did not know him well, but I certainly knew who he was just by reputation alone. I first actually met him in 2003; I sang at the Mass that was celebrated for the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. And the person I got to know a bit about over the past 7 years was a number of things. First, he was a kind, personable human being. He had an uncanny sense of what made others tick and could get to that and make them better. I can say that after talking with him a couple of times he had that effect on me. Second, was reputed to be somewhat mischievous, I suspect mostly due to his Irish extraction. I never was the victim of such mischief myself, but the stories I’ve heard – many of them – are legend. Probably most important, though, was that he was a faithful minister of God. He especially loved to minister as a parish priest, and while he did many things that were high-profile, his heart was with the people of the parishes he served.
One other thing that the homilist mentioned during his sermon was that John’s last Mass was last Thursday, the day before he went down. Reportedly he hadn’t been feeling well (a warning sign, I think, of what was coming), but he celebrated a Funeral Mass for one of the parishoners of St. Piux X in Manchester. It is where he was providing assistance to the pastor of that church in his so-called retirement. And it is fitting that the last thing he did was to serve the departed soul of one of those parishoners he cared so much about.
Rev. Msgr. John Molan, VG, PA
Priest of the Diocese of Manchester
April 24, 1927 – June 13, 2010
Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord
And let Perpetual Light shine upon him.
May he Rest In Peace.