AUGUSTA — The leader of the Catholic parish with prominent churches in Augusta, Gardiner, Hallowell, Whitefield and Winthrop is retiring, leaving behind a legacy of a focus helping social services in the region, such as with donations to food banks and in parishioners volunteering their time.

The Rev. Francis Morin will retire July 1 from his role as administrator of St. Michael Catholic Parish, though he plans to continue his ministry activity by filling in at various churches when needed and by conducting Masses on weekends in Spanish, for Spanish-speaking workers and others, across the state.

St. Michael Parish includes St. Mary of the Assumption Church and St. Augustine Church in Augusta, St. Joseph Church in Gardiner, Sacred Heart Church in Hallowell, St. Denis Church in Whitefield and St. Francis Xavier Church in Winthrop. Morin has overseen the churches since 2009. He was ordained in 1973.

“I’ll have 45 years in. I thought it’d be time to give up a lot of the administrative responsibilities, because every year the whole structure of the parish ministry seems to get bigger and bigger as the number of priests shrinks,” said Morin, 69, explaining why he was stepping down as parish administrator. “I thought it’d be good to hand it on to somebody younger than myself. I’ll miss the people. I won’t miss all the administration; that’s the main reason I want to retire. And I will still do basic ministry. I’m not stopping work. I’ll help out where the need is and be available when they need someone.”

Morin said he feels St. Michael Parish is in a good state and the parish has increased its support for social services.

“People see the need and they respond by helping out. That has been a very important focus,” Morin said of the parish’s increased support for social services in the region.

Al Smith, executive director of the Augusta Food Bank, said the food bank, which distributes food to people in need in Augusta and Manchester, benefits from the charitable actions of the parishioners of St. Michael Parish.

“They do collections for us, food drives for us. We have members of the parish who volunteer here, and one on our board,” Smith said. “They’ve really done a lot. They have stepped up and done a lot to help us out.”

The Rev. John Skehan, currently pastor of the Parish of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Bar Harbor, Stella Maris Parish in Bucksport, and St. Joseph Parish in Ellsworth, has been appointed to take Morin’s place.

Skehan, who before entering seminary was the educational coordinator for Up With People and a junior high school science teacher in Oakland, was ordained in 1986. HIs first assignment was as parochial vicar of Notre Dame Parish in Waterville, including campus ministry at Colby College and Unity College.

Starting July 1, St. Michael Parish also will have a new parochial vicar, who assists the pastor. The Nigerian-born Rev. Patrick Efe-egiughwe Agbodi, parochial vicar since 2017, has been appointed parochial vicar at All Saints Parish in Brunswick. Replacing him will be the Rev. Michael Seavey, currently parochial vicar of St. Anne Parish in Gorham.

Morin said he knows both Skehan and Seavey and both will serve the parish well.

“They’re both excited to come to the area,” Morin said. “They will be well-received and the people will be well-served.”

Crucial maintenance work, including the re-pointing of the exterior of St. Mary in Augusta, has taken place; and the number of students at St. Michael School, which had been declining, now is increasing, with more than 170 students registered for next school year, up from 166. Morin said the parish’s goal is to grow to around 200 students.

Morin came to become administrator of St. Michael Parish in 2009, coming from a similar role with St. Peter the Fisherman in Machias and St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Calais.

A native of St. Albans in Queens, New York, Morin was the oldest child in a family of eight. He attended both public schools and St. John Grammar School in Winslow as a child.

He completed his clerical studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Edward C. O’Leary in 1973 at St. John the Baptist in Winslow. His first assignment was as assistant pastor at Holy Cross Parish in South Portland. He has served as diocesan chaplain to the Boy Scouts of America, engaged in missionary work in Latin America and, for five years, ministered to Catholics in Bolivia. He returned to Maine in 1988, becoming pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Lewiston, then serving at churches in Portland and Downeast Maine.

Morin said he plans to live in Waterville after his retirement as parish administrator.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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