Father Edward McLean Dies; Served Virginia Catholics for 49 Years

ARLINGTON — Father Edward J. McLean, a retired priest of the Arlington Diocese, died Oct. 14 at the Little Sisters of the Poor Retirement Home in Washington. He was 80 years old. A funeral Mass was offered on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 10 a.m. at St. Mary Church in Alexandria. Interment followed at St. Mary’s Cemetery. A prayer service was held Oct. 17 at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington. Father McLean was born March 4, 1917, in the Bronx, New York. He left home at age 17 to study for the Xaverian Brothers, a teaching order. His first year of teaching was spent at St. Mary’s Reformatory for Boys in Baltimore, once the home of Al Jolson and Babe Ruth. He spent three years as a volunteer seminarian visiting Maryland State Penitentiary. He studied at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore after his temporary religious vows expired in 1943. He was ordained for the Richmond Diocese on May 1, 1948, by Bishop Stephen J. Donahue, former auxiliary bishop of New York. Virginia was considered mission territory at that time and Father McLean said he wanted to a missionary. He first lived in Virginia when he entered Sacred Heart Novitiate in 1935, then located in Phoebus, near Fort Monroe. Father McLean retired in 1989 due to poor health, but he served at many parishes in the Northern Virginia area, including Blessed Sacrament, St. Lawrence, St. Mary and Queen of Apostles in Alexandria; St. Philip in Falls Church; Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Charles Borromeo in Arlington. He also served in Fredericksburg, Waynesboro, Danville, Lynchburg and Hopewell. Father McLean served as administrator of prison ministry for the Arlington Diocese in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His father, John McLean, was a New York City policeman who once jokingly placed his young son in a Harlem jail. "Back then, I never dreamed I’d be working in the jails as a priest," he said. Father McLean also did pastoral work in the alcoholic treatment units at area hospitals. His 49 years as a priest spanned the tenure of six popes. He once said one of the highlights of his religious life occurred on Nov. 24, 1968, when he was called to offer a prayer for a men’s luncheon group at the National Press Club in Washington. Father McLean offered the Prayer of St. Francis and the Old Gaelic Blessing, which were recorded and sent to NASA headquarters in Houston. The prayers were subsequently shot into space as part of NASA’s test-run prior to the landing of Apollo 8 on the moon. Copyright ?1997 Arlington Catholic Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.

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