peterandwife sm



McElrath, Damian Edmund

April 25, 2021


McElrath, Damian Edmund December 26, 1928 - April 25, 2021 Preceded in death by his parents, Anna and Edmund McElrath, siblings, Danny, Mary Collins and Audrey Gusmerotti. Raised in Brooklyn, New York, he spent the first part of his life as a Franciscan Priest, earned a doctorate in Ecclesiastical History and was respected for his long career as teacher, writer and administrator (President of St. Bonaventure University, 1972- 1976.) He came to Minnesota in 1976 and took the Clinical Pastoral Education course for clergy at Hazelden to learn about the disease of alcoholism and to serve the spiritual needs of the chemically dependent. He decided to switch careers, left the priesthood and the Franciscans and remained at Hazelden for the next 35 years serving in a variety positions, one of which was Executive Vice President of Hazelden's Recovery Services. But his love was patient care and the last decade of his career at Hazelden was spent as the chaplain on Hazelden's Extended Care Unit where he was able to care for the spiritual needs of the patients as contained in the 12 Step Program and the Fellowship of AA. He wrote extensively both as a Franciscan and while at Hazelden where he wrote about its history in Hazelden - A Spiritual Odyssey. After he retired he volunteered at the Retreat in Wayzata. He and his wife Sandy shared a mutual love and support over the 40 years of their marriage. He is survived by his wife, Sandy, his stepson Steven Grandstrand and wife Amy, his stepdaughter Amy Hansen and husband Erik, and six grandchildren, Nicklaus and Megan Grandstrand, Ben, Emily, Anna and Sara Hansen, and many nieces and nephews. They should know that their "Papa" will be with them always. He loved to paraphrase Cardinal Newman whom he admired: To live is to change and to live well is to have changed often. A memorial visitation will be held May 8th from 2 - 4:30 pm at Washburn McReavy Glen Haven Chapel - 5125 West Broadway, Crystal, MN. Masks will be required. In lieu of flowers, please send a memorial to the charity of your choice. Glen Haven Chapel 763-533-8643