Parishioners at Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven are mourning the loss of their pastor, the Rev. Brian Murdoch, who died unexpectedly Sunday morning, Oct. 16, at home. He was 62 and had led the church for two years.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 4 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, located at the corner of William street and Woodlawn avenue in Vineyard Haven. There will also be a service in Boston at The Cathedral Church of St. Paul, 138 Tremont street, on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 4 p.m.

“He was what they call a priest in charge,” said Pat Waring, an active participant in the church who spoke to the Gazette Tuesday. The designation meant that the church and Reverend Murdoch were still engaged in the process of deciding whether it would be a good match. By all accounts it was.

“He was so very well loved,” Ms. Waring said. “He had a heart of gold and was the most appreciative person you could imagine. If you were in trouble or in need or in sadness, he was always right there at the door or by the bedside.”

Ms. Waring said that Reverend Murdoch had been in good health, but that he had ongoing diabetes issues.

He was born just outside of Boston, one of seven children in an Irish working class family. He played football, graduated from Boston College and later attended Boston Theological Institute, Union Seminary and General Theological Seminary, from which he graduated.

On the Grace Church website Reverend Murdoch is quoted as saying: “Being Irish, I found that being a good priest was a lot like being a good bartender. You have to care and read people quickly, one after another.”

For many years Reverend Murdoch worked with the homeless population in Boston, holding an open church service in the Boston Common. Linsey Lee, the curator of oral history at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, had been a friend since the 1980s, when she also lived in Boston and worked with the homeless.

“He had such a full heart,” Ms. Lee said. “And the love he gave out to people was boundless.”

She said Reverend Murdoch’s specialty, in addition to his energy and enthusiasm, was that he could relate to everyone. “From homeless to the rich, he just had across-the-board understanding,” she said.

On the Vineyard, he was a familiar figure both in and out of the church. On Ash Wednesday he would set up a station at the Vineyard Haven Steamship Authority terminal to administer ashes to those coming off the boat. Recently, he performed a blessing of the backpacks ceremony for all the students going back to school. And this past summer he created an internship program at Norton Farm, where six interns explored their faith in action while tilling the soil. Reverend Murdoch would lead them all each day in an early morning devotion before the farm work began. For a city boy, farming and working the soil was not a stretch.

“To be on this very beautiful Island, detached from America, where one can be a monk in the winter and a surfer in the summer is grand. It suits my Celtic soul,” he said on the church website.

Ms. Waring agreed that the Island seemed especially suited for him.

“He was a wild man who was wholeheartedly appreciative of everything in life, but especially people,” Ms. Waring said. “And he loved it here, the Island and the Island community. He will be horribly missed.”

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Father Brian’s memory to the Father Brian Memorial Fund. Checks may be made out to Grace Episcopal Church, with the notation “Father Brian Memorial Fund,” and sent to Grace Episcopal Church, PO Box 1197, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.