Gaffney, Edward Maurice, O.P.
Born: April 8, 1921
Professed: Aug 16, 1943
Ordained: Jun 9, 1949
Died:Jan 27, 2020
Father Edward Maurice Gaffney, O.P., died peacefully in the morning of Monday, January 27, 2020, at the Ohio State University Hospital in Columbus, OH at the age of 98. He had been a resident of Mohun Health Care Center in Columbus since 2015. Fr. Gaffney is survived by his nephews Edward M. and John J. Durkin and his nieces Maryjane Myers and Denise Ladenburg of Fircrest, Washington,and their families.
Edward Maurice Gaffney was born on April 8, 1921 in Newark, NJ, the son of Edward Powell and Rose Cecilia (née Crawford) Gaffney. His father was a professional baseball umpire. He was baptized at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Newark, and attended St. Michael’s school in Cranford, NJ and Holy Trinity High School in Westfield, NJ. During summers, he worked as a stevedore on the New Jersey docks.
Father Gaffney enrolled at Providence College in 1940, and after two years of liberal arts studies, he entered the Dominican novitiate at St. Rose Priory, Springfield, KY in 1942, making his first Profession there on August 16, 1943. He then studied philosophy at St. Joseph Priory, Somerset, OH from 1943-45 and theology at the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC from 1945 to 1950. Having made Solemn Profession on August 16, 1946, he was ordained to the priesthood at St. Dominic’s Church, Washington, DC, on June 9, 1949 by Most Reverend Edward C. Daly, O.P.
Father Gaffney’s priestly service, spanning more than seven decades, included a remarkable variety of pastoral and preaching ministries. Beginning with parish work at Holy Name Church in Philadelphia from 1950-1955, he joined the Province’s Mission Band, preaching parish missions and retreats from 1956 to 1964. Then, he was sent to direct the Dominican Retreat House in Kingstree, SC, where he preached and gave spiritual direction until 1967, when he joined the U.S. Army Chaplain’s Corps.
Being commissioned as a Captain in the Army in 1967, Father Gaffney’s experience as a retreat director prompted his military superiors to put him in charge of the Armed Forces Retreat Center in the Bavarian Alps at Berchtesgaden, Germany, where he served from 1968 until he was sent to Vietnam on July 8, 1971.
For just over a year, until August of 1972, Fr. Gaffney cared for the souls of soldiers at a particularly discouraging time.In addition to being a troop chaplain, he ministered to Vietnamese refugees in an evacuation hospital. After returning home in 1972 to work for two years as a staff chaplain at Fort McNair in Washington, DC, Father Gaffney was sent back to Southeast Asia in 1974, to serve troops who were stationed in Thailand and Korea. He was finally discharged on April 8, 1981, with many military awards, including the Bronze Star and three Meritorious Service Medals.
After two years as chaplain to the Veterans’ Administration Hospital in Albany, NY, Father Gaffney was elected Prior of St. Dominic’s in Washington, DC on April 9, 1984, where he served two terms, until 1990. On May 1, 1990, he was appointed Professor of Homiletics and then Director of Spiritual Formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD, where for nearly a decade he shared the wisdom of his pastoral experience with future priests.
In 1998, Father Gaffney was again elected prior at St. Dominic’s.By that time, the Center for Assisted Living had been established there, and his experience as a chaplain in conditions of great suffering gave him compassionate understanding for the Center’s program of care for the aged and infirm. After one term, Father Gaffney was appointed chaplain to the Dominican nuns in Lancaster, PA, where he ministered not only to the sisters, but to all the people who came to worship with them. In 2013 he returned to Washington to receive the help he increasingly needed because of age.
During his final years at St. Dominic’s, Father Gaffney received many visits from people who had benefited from his ministry in a such a great variety of settings. He had a multitude of friends, with whom he carried on a lively correspondence, both by letter and by telephone, and he greatly enjoyed the company of his Dominican brothers.When it became evident that he required skilled nursing, Father Gaffney moved to the Mohun Health Care Center, whose community provided a fitting setting for the culmination of his long and fruitful life.