AUGUSTA — The pastor of the local Catholic parish here who died suddenly this week will be laid to rest with a funeral and burial this Labor Day weekend, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland said.

Rev. John Skehan

John Skehan, 66, pastor of the Augusta-based St. Michael Parish, died unexpectedly late Wednesday afternoon, according to a statement by Bishop Robert Deeley. The diocese did not disclose the cause of death except to say it was of “natural causes at the home of friends while visiting them on his day off.”

Skehan had been pastor of St. Michael since 2018, overseeing a parish that serves nearly 4,000 households. It includes St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Augusta; 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. The parish also partners with St. Michael School, a Catholic school in Augusta serving children in prekindergarten through eighth grade, and maintains eight cemeteries.

The diocese said arrangements for Skehan would start Sunday, with a 4 p.m. reception of the body at St. Augustine Church at 75 Northern Ave. in Augusta, followed by a 7 p.m. wake. His funeral Mass is set for Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Augustine, with Deeley presiding as the celebrant, followed by burial at New St. Mary’s Cemetery in Manchester.

In a statement, Deeley said Skehan’s death “comes as a shock to all who know and love” the pastor. Skehan, who grew up in Hampden, “had indicated his preference that his funeral would take place in the parish where he was serving when he died,” according to Deeley.

“The loss of Father Skehan is a great sorrow for all who have known him,” Deeley said in a message to parishioners this week. “His family, his brother priests, as well as you, his parishioners, are all saddened by his sudden death. In this moment we rely on our faith to strengthen us. It is a time for us to remember that Jesus’ coming among us was, and continues to be, God’s assurance that he is with us in all things, and especially moments of difficulty such as this. Let us pray for each other, then, that we will know that Jesus walks with us in this time of loss.”


Skehan attended Hampden Academy and received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, according to the diocese. Prior to entering seminary to become a pastor, Skehan served as the educational coordinator for “Up with People” from 1978 to 1980 and worked as a junior high school science teacher in Oakland from 1980 to 1982. Skehan completed his clerical studies at Theological College in Washington, D.C., according to the diocese, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1986 at St. Matthew Church in Hampden.

Tristan Morton receives a religious emblem April 27 from the Rev. John Skehan following a Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Augusta. Courtesy photo

During his ministry in Maine, Skehan served at parishes in Waterville, Portland, Houlton, South Berwick, Berwick, York, Kittery, Bar Harbor, Bucksport, Ellsworth and Augusta. He also served in campus ministry at Colby College in Waterville, hospital ministry at Maine Medical Center, and as the director of the Office of Parish Planning for the Diocese of Portland.

The Rev. Patrick Finn, who serves as a parochial vicar at Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston and previously also served in that role for Corpus Christi Parish in Waterville from 2018 to 2020, said that while he was a seminarian he had lived with Skehan in Bar Harbor in the summer of 2017.

“He was a good man, and an honorable and generous priest, with tons of energy — he just never stopped,” Finn said.

Finn also noted that Skehan was a builder: He helped build a new church in Berwick — Our Lady of the Angels, which opened in 2012 — and started a massive restoration at Holy Redeemer Church in Bar Harbor after he was assigned to the three Hancock County parishes in 2014.

Augusta’s St. Michael Parish is currently served by two parochial vicars: the Rev. Nehru Stephen Savarayia, as well as the Rev. Anthony F. Kuzia, who only just started the role on Thursday following an appointment that was announced in June.

Noreen Hare, business manager for St. Michael Parish, said Skehan was about to kick off a capital fundraising campaign “that he believed in so much,” and the pastor had donated the first $10,000 toward the campaign “and never told anyone.”

“He was a generous, giving and very humble priest,” Hare said by email Friday. “We certainly lost a great man but heaven gained an angel.”

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