Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Not Just Any Ol' Priest in the Family

I was always told that Aloysius McElwee was related to me (he's my 1st cousin twice removed).  I knew from his tombstone that he was a Brigadier General in the Army.  His obituary was still incredibly awe-inspiring.  It also helped connect one other link.  My sister's childhood friend was a Sherrock and we knew we were related to a Sherrock, but didn't know how.

I was very impressed when I read about his education as well as his military service.  He was obviously a very respected clergyman and I know looking back at other relatives' obituaries that having him preside at their funeral or a loved one's funeral must have been special indeed.  I wish I had a picture of him.

It's a bit sad.  I lived in Hazleton up until October 1990 and never knew him.  Never met him.  Wilkes-Barre is a neighboring town and I lived in his hometown. 

"Monsignor McElwee dies, served church for 50 years

Monsignor Aloysius J. McElwee, 76, pastor emeritus of St. Patrick's Church, in Wilkes-Barre, and a native of Hazleton, died Tuesday afternoon after being ill.

McElwee, son of the late Owen and Bridget (Brown) McElwee, was born in Hazleton on Oct. 26, 1913.  He attended St. Gabriel's grade school and Hazleton High School.

Msgr. McElwee was also a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, Olean, N.Y., and St. Mary's Seminary.  He did graduate work at George Washington University.

He took his preparation for the priesthood at the Collegio Brignole Sale Negroni, Genoa, Italy, and was ordained by the Most Rev. Francesco Canessa, D.D., in Genoa on May 18, 1940.

Hazleton Standard Speaker, 17OCT1990
Upon his return to the diocese, he was first assigned as assistant pastor at St. John the Evangelist, Susquehanna, and later assigned at St. Patrick's, Wilkes-Barre.

In August of 1944, Msgr. McElwee was released from the Diocese of Scranton by the late Bishop William J. Hafey for active service in the Chaplains Corps of the U.S. Army.  In December of that year went to the Pacific Theater with the 13th Tactical Division from Fort Jackson, S.C. He participated in invasions of Leyte in the Philippines, the Ryukyu Islands, Okinawa, and Ie Shima.

In 1947, he was assigned to Nanking, China, as chaplain of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group.  In 1949, he was assigned to the Eighth U.S. Army in Japan and late to the headquarters of the Yokohama Command.

In 1950, he was stationed at Fort Jay, N.Y., and Fort Benning, Ga., with the Eighth Infantry Regiment, the Fourth Infantry Division, and accompanied this unit to West Germany.  After three years in West Germany, he was assigned to Fort Devens, Mass., where he remained from 1954 to 1958.  While at Fort Devens, he attended the Command and General Staff College.

After serving at Fort Devens, McElwee was appointed director of plans and operations at headquarters of the USAREUR.

In 1962, he was appointed Deputy Army Chaplain of the Second U.S. Army at Fort Meade, Md.  Later, he was appointed to the office of the chief of chaplains as director of plans, programs, and policies and remained there until 1966 when he was appointed command chaplain in Europe.  He also served as vicar delegate in Europe of the Military Ordinariate.  He was then appointed post chaplain at Fort Meade and command chaplain, in  1970, USARPAC.

In 1971, he was promoted to brigadier general and appointed deputy chief of Army chaplains and continued in this office until his retirement from Army service in 1974.

He was appointed pastor of St. Patrick's Church, in Wilkes-Barre, on Sept. 3, 1974.  He served in this capacity until his retirement in September 1982.

He was named Domestic Prelate (Monsignor) in 1964, by the late Pope Paul VI.

He received the Meritorious Service Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal (with two oak leaf clusters), and the Distinguished Service Medal.

He was preceded in death by two brothers, John and Eugene.

Surviving are two sisters, Mrs. Stanley J. Sutula, Kingston; Mrs. Robert Sherrock, Hazleton; one brother, Neil McElwee, Harrisburg, and several nieces and nephews.

The transferal [sic] of the body, followed by Mass, will be held on Thursday at 7 p.m., with the Monsignor Donald A. McAndrews, V.F., presiding.

A Pontifical Concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by the Most Reverend James C. Timlin, Bishop of Scranton, on Friday, at 11 a.m. in St. Patrick's  Church, Wilkes-Barre.  Interment will be in St. Gabriel's Cemetery, Hazleton.

Friends may call tonight at St. Patrick's Rectory, Wilkes-Barre, beginning at 7 p.m."