Funeral held for Montreal's beloved Catholic priest, Father John Walsh

Father John Walsh, the beloved Catholic priest who was well-known for his work with Montreal's homeless and fostering relationships between the city's different religious communities, was laid to rest on Monday.

Walsh passed away of a massive heart attack on Nov. 9.

"I'm grateful that he didn't suffer. And I'm grateful the Lord just took him with a heart attack. It's no wonder he had a heart attack, because he gave a piece of his heart to everyone he ever met," said friend Robin Burns. 

The service was limited to family and close friends due to social distancing rules, but was livestreamed so admirers and the faithful could watch online.

"John was awesome. I don't know how else to describe him," said friend Sylvain Pitt.  

The ceremony was held at LaSalle's St. John Brebeuf Parish, where Walsh had worked for decades, until retiring in 2010. Even in retirement, Walsh stayed busy, publishing his autobiography 'God is Calling, Don't Leave Him on Hold' in 2016, and continuing his work with the homeless at Nazareth House.

A shelter was named in his honour just a week before his death.

"I think it's very important for us as a community to stay together and to connect," said Nazareth Community president Sheila Woodhouse. "At the event the other evening, there were representatives of all faiths in Montreal. That's what Father John did, he was a bridge builder."

Walsh's death inspired an outpouring of admiration for the man, who was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2017. Among those who paid tribute in the wake of his passing was former prime minister Paul Martin.

 

This story will be updated.

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