Father Adelard J. Gagnon Pilot file photo
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A priest of the archdiocese for more than 53 years and one who was immensely proud of his French heritage, yet seemed comfortable beyond his family roots, Father Adelard J. Gagnon, widely known as “Del” died rather unexpectedly on May 2 in Chelmsford. He had celebrated his 80th birthday on March 6.
A Lowell native he was a son of the late Adelard and Alida (Theriault) Gagnon. He attended St. Louis de France Elementary School, in Lowell and the College de l’Assomption in Quebec before entering St. John’s Seminary. On completion of his seminary studies he was ordained at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross by Archbishop Richard Cushing on Feb. 2, 1956.
He served in various parishes across the archdiocese; immediately following ordination he was assigned as an assistant at Sacred Heart (French) Parish, Brockton; three years later he headed northeast to another French national parish, the venerable St. Joseph, Salem. In 1961 he was named as an assistant at St. Anthony of Padua, Shirley and in 1964 he returned to a French national parish when he was named assistant at Sacred Heart, Amesbury.
He would be an associate pastor in two parishes between 1969 and 1976, those being St. Joseph, Medford and Our Lady of the Assumption, East Boston. After about six months at East Boston, Cardinal Medeiros named him pastor of the parish and he served there until Dec. 17, 2000 when Cardinal Law granted him senior priest retirement status.
The Merrimack Region’s Interim Vicar, Father Arthur M. Coyle was the principal celebrant of Father Gagnon’s funeral Mass on May 7 at St. Marguerite d’Youville Parish in Dracut. Joining him as a concelebrant and homilist was Father James L. McCune, Director of the Office for Senior Priests of the archdiocese. Other priests classmates and friends of Father Gagnon were also among the concelebrants and those who indicated that they would be concelebrating included Father Thomas Foley, secretary for Parish Life and Leadership of the archdiocese; Father Robert Connors, pastor of St. Marguerite d’Youville Parish and of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, both in Dracut; and Father James Lyons, a senior priest of the archdiocese who is in residence in the Dracut parishes.
Father Gagnon’s survivors are several nieces and nephews, his siblings and his parents predeceased him. Following the funeral Mass Father Gagnon was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Chelmsford.