Former MU professor turned cleric dies in Boston

Friday, December 18, 2009 | 6:07 p.m. CST; updated 10:05 p.m. CST, Friday, December 18, 2009

COLUMBIA — Archimandrite Joasaph, who was known as Frank McLellan while teaching Russian at MU, died Friday in Boston after battling biliary-duct cancer. He was 47.

He was born Francis R. McLellan Jr. on Jan. 24, 1962, in Boston to Frances R. McLellan Sr. and Pauline B. (Rooney) McLellan.

Dr. Joasaph taught Russian at MU from 2000 to 2004, when he left to enter the ministry of the Russian Orthodox Church. He later became head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem.

"He was pretty fabulous," said Nicole Monnier, MU director of undergraduate studies in Russian, who worked with Dr. Joasaph for three years. "The students absolutely adored him."

Monnier said that while at MU, Dr. Joasaph instituted a pre-Lenten meal of bliny, Russian pancakes, for the students at his "tiny, little apartment."

Monnier said Dr. Joasaph taught a wide range of courses at MU, including one titled "Saints, Monks and Holy Fools."

He received a bachelor's degree from Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, N.Y., and master's and doctoral degrees from Brown University. After teaching at MU, he taught at Princeton University.

When he left Princeton, he entered the Holy Trinity Monastery and became a priest on Dec. 7, 2008.

In an e-mail that Dr. Joasaph sent to Monnier in August, after his cancer diagnosis, he said:

"(A)fter being afraid of taking the steps I did in 2008 — monasticism, ordination — once I did take them, the very best days of my life followed. The worst day in Jordanville or in Jerusalem was better than the best day in Princeton or Brown or anywhere. I would like to continue doing it for as long as I can, even knowing that eventually sorrows catch up with you wherever you are, because nothing has ever been more satisfying, or seemed so much the right thing to do."

He is survived by a stepmother; five siblings; and numerous nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and 10 godchildren.

His parents died earlier.

Services will be held at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, N.Y.

Memorial contributions can be sent to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem: Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Epiphany, 963 South St., Roslindale, MA 02131–2309.

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