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Duxbury priest, who counseled Clancys after children’s deaths, opens church doors Friday into Saturday

A woman prayed at the altar at the Holy Family Church Friday afternoon. The church opened its doors for quiet reflection and prayers as part of the healing process after the death of the Clancy children.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

A Duxbury church is opening its doors Friday morning for 23 hours of silent reflection and prayer for the family of Lindsay Clancy, who allegedly strangled her three children last week before attempting to take her own life.

The pastor of the church, the Rev. Robert J. Deehan, said he sat with Clancy’s husband, Patrick, at his parents’ home for nearly an hour, mostly in silence, the morning after the violent incident.

“There’d be moments, an interjection, he’d say something or his mother would,” Deehan said. “We prayed together ... A lot of it was just of kind of being present and supportive.”


Later that afternoon, Deehan said he drove to Boston where he gave Lindsay Clancy the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick, often referred to as the Last Rites, as she lay in her hospital bed.

Clancy, 32, remains in a Boston hospital but her condition is improving, Duxbury Police Chief Michael Carbone said Thursday.

“I don’t know her exact condition, but she is getting better day by day and has been talking to family and friends,” Carbone said in a phone interview.

She is accused of strangling her 5-year-old daughter, Cora, her 3-year-old son, Dawson, and infant son, Callan, in the family’s Duxbury home on Jan. 24 before jumping from a second-floor window.

Clancy, a labor and delivery nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital whose maiden name is Musgrove, is in police custody and is facing murder and assault charges in connection with the deaths. An arraignment has not been scheduled, according to a spokesperson for Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz, and her lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Deehan, pastor of the Holy Family Catholic Church of Duxbury, where the Clancys are parishioners, baptized Callan in October. Last Thursday, the priest presided over a vigil for the three children attended by hundreds who packed into the church.


The period for reflection and prayer from Friday morning to Saturday morning is another way the church is trying to help the family, and the community, begin to heal, Deehan said.

“There’s no real answer you can give to such a tragedy,” Deehan said in a telephone interview Thursday. “This is to allow time for people to pray and invoke the Lord to give comfort and perhaps a sense of peace.”

The church is opening its doors at 9 a.m. Friday and will stay open until 8 a.m. Saturday for a period “of quiet reflection and prayer, especially for the Clancy and Musgrove families, the healing of Lindsay Clancy as well as for all in need of comfort, healing and peace at this difficult time,” the church said in a Facebook post.

On Saturday, Patrick Clancy wrote about the depths of his loss and the love and forgiveness he feels for his wife. He asked others to forgive her as well.

“I want to ask all of you that you find it deep within yourselves to forgive Lindsay, as I have,” he wrote. “The real Lindsay was generously loving and caring towards everyone — me, our kids, family, friends, and her patients. The very fibers of her soul are loving. All I wish for her now is that she can somehow find peace.”

Patrick Clancy’s message was posted on a GoFundMe fund-raiser that had been set up for his family and was approaching $1 million in donations on Thursday.


“He certainly forgave her and wanted the community to know that this was nothing intended or willful but the product of a terrible mental illness and lack of appropriate medical intervention,” Deehan said. “It just wasn’t a good mix and put her over the edge in a sense and ended in such tragedy.”

Deehan said the community has shown more support for Lindsay Clancy than most might expect following such an unthinkable event.

“I think the vast majority seem to have very great empathy for her, and I think it’s ... highlighted the experience of women who have postpartum depression or psychosis,” he said. “It’s raised a greater level of awareness and sympathy for these women.”

The community also has rallied around first responders who came upon the harrowing scene inside the Clancy home.

On Thursday, Duxbury Fire Chief Rob Reardon expressed gratitude for the support, saying it “has helped tremendously.”

“We don’t have enough thank-you notes to go around,” he wrote on Twitter. “I want to make sure everyone knows we have felt your love and support over the last week and we are humbled by it.”

First responders have had access to mental health services, peer support, and counseling in the days since they were called to the home, and Carbone said his officers have taken advantage of those services.

“This type of thing, I hate to say they’re trained for it, but they are,” Carbone said. Yet, he said, “We’re human, we hide our emotions, and we hide our stress sometimes, and that all needs to be worked out.”


John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.