Father John Horgan, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Vancouver and a widely known face and voice of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, died Wednesday at the age of 63.

Horgan had been battling stomach cancer and was recently admitted to palliative care. 

A native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, he attended Harvard University, majoring in religious studies and graduating magna cum laude in 1980 when he began his studies for the priesthood in Rome. He received his bachelor of philosophy, bachelor of sacred theology, and master’s in moral theology at the Angelicum in Rome in 1985. At the urging of students, he volunteered to serve in Vancouver and worked with the Office of Religious Education and was assigned to Holy Rosary Cathedral.

Father John Horgan in a 2011 file photo. Courtesy of The B.C. Catholic
Father John Horgan in a 2011 file photo. Courtesy of The B.C. Catholic

Horgan was ordained to the priesthood in Rome by Pope John Paul II at the age of 26, one of 74 priests ordained by the pope in a traditional Mass on the feast of the Holy Trinity. He returned to Vancouver to serve the archdiocese and for more than three decades he served as pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul in Vancouver and St. Pius X in North Vancouver before being assigned in 2021 to Immaculate Conception in Vancouver.

In 1996 he returned to Rome to complete his licentiate in sacred theology with emphasis in medical ethics and health care. He wrote his thesis on the Vatican’s 1995 Charter for Health Care Workers.

As a moral theologian, he lectured locally and internationally and was frequently consulted on medical ethics. He was an expert on saints, and his lifelong interest in the subject led to a diploma magna com laude from the Studium of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. With expertise in the investigation and evaluation of candidates for sainthood, he advised on numerous sainthood causes and served as a vice-postulator for the cause of Blessed Marie of Jesus Deluil-Martiny (1841–1884), the foundress of the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus, a community of cloistered Sisters dedicated to eucharistic adoration and reparation.

Horgan served as a chaplain at Vancouver hospitals, including St. Paul’s during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and ’90s, and served for several years as the archbishop’s representative to the Catholic Health Care Association of British Columbia.

He was a chaplain to numerous organizations, from Vancouver College to the St. Thomas More Catholic Lawyers Guild and the Catholic Physicians’ Guild of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, the Knights of Malta, and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and for more than a decade to the Musqueam Indian Band.

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Father John Horgan, far right, with priests of the Archdiocese of Vancouver in Rome in 2014. Courtesy of The B.C. Catholic
Father John Horgan, far right, with priests of the Archdiocese of Vancouver in Rome in 2014. Courtesy of The B.C. Catholic

From the 1990s Horgan was a familiar face and voice of the Archdiocese of Vancouver internationally after beginning an association with EWTN, the Eternal Word Global Television Network. He made many EWTN appearances on radio and TV and appeared several times with EWTN founder Mother Angelica. He two television series and hosted the series Angels of God, based on his 2018 book “His Angels at Our Side: Understanding Their Power In Our Souls and the World.” He went to Hanceville, Alabama, to concelebrate Mother Angelica’s funeral Mass in 2016 and his voice could be heard on EWTN reading the psalms and Scripture verses each day.

He was a consultant to the 2005 movie “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” a movie loosely based on an actual case in Germany. Many of his TV appearances are available on YouTube.

He collected relics and was a lover of reading, amassing a collection of more than 14,000 books.

Funeral details are still being arranged.

This article was first published Oct. 19, 2022 at The B.C. Catholic, and is reprinted at CNA with permission.