Father Ron Millican, 65, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Southeast Portland, died at his residence Feb. 4. Archbishop Alexander Sample will be celebrant at a funeral Mass Tuesday, Feb. 19, 11 a.m. at St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.

Father Millican was born in Portland Oct. 27, 1953, to Albert Millican and Arlene Lippert. He attended Mount Angel for high school and college seminary studies. He then studied theology at St. John’s Seminary in Collegeville, Minnesota. He was ordained to the priesthood Sept. 11, 1981, at St. John the Apostle Church in Oregon City. He did post graduate studies at the University of Portland in 1986.

Father Millican served as parochial vicar at St. John the Apostle from 1981 to 1983, and then at St. John the Baptist in Milwaukie from 1983 to 1986. He then served at Central Catholic High School from 1986 to 1999 and was in residence at St. Pius X Parish in Northwest Portland. He also served as moderator of St. Mary, Vernonia, from 1995 to 1999. He served as pastor of St. Pius X from 1999 to 2006. After taking a sabbatical he served as pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows in Portland from 2007 until his death.

“His parishioners were the beneficiaries of his beautiful homilies that connected church teachings and the Gospel to ordinary life situations,” says Dan Buxman, a longtime friend. “He helped parishioners make that connection by thoughtfully articulating events in his own life and how the Gospel related to him.” 

Father Millican formed long lasting bonds with many students while working at Central Catholic. He could be seen operating the scoreboard at basketball games alongside Benedictine Sister Jerome Zerr and attending Friday night football games, standing in the end zone visiting with fellow teachers. He helped foster lifelong friendships among teachers and students by running SEARCH retreats, at which students were challenged to look deeper into their own relationships with Jesus, their family, and their friends.

Outside of his pastoral and teaching duties, Father Millican was well-known for his love of dogs (especially his golden retrievers Abby and Mace), the Fighting Irish, Frank Sinatra and a good cigar. The priest often could be heard crooning a Sinatra song while out gardening or walking the halls of the parish or school.

Our Lady of Sorrows held a memorial Mass, with standing room only and seven priests in attendance. Tributes have poured in.

“I remember sitting with Father Ron on his back patio,” says Anthony Ordway, a member of St. Pius X Parish who also worked at Our Lady of Sorrows.  “He was so easy to talk to and gave thoughtful spiritual direction. He would sit with his cigar, his golden retriever running through the backyard, and he would listen and really be present in the conversation.”

“I was a young teacher at the parish when he was ordained,” said Mary Namit, who taught in Oregon City. “He had a wonderful spirit that engaged the students, staff and parish.”

“What an extraordinary priest,” said his aunt, Rosemarie Millican. “He was always on call if any family member needed him.”

Donations in memory of Father Millican should be made to either the Our Lady of Sorrows Property Development Fund or the Oregon Humane Society.