The Rev. Monsignor John Jeremiah Scanlan, 68, who had been pastor of St. Matthias the Apostle Catholic Church in Lanham since 1990, died Dec. 25 at Washington Hospital Center after surgery for a heart ailment.

Monsignor Scanlan had been co-chairman of Interfaith Action Communities, a national ecumenical group that links poorer communities with ones of greater wealth to promote both civic and economic betterment.

He also was a founder of the Southern Maryland Self-Help Association.

Over the years, he served as the Catholic Cemeteries Board chairman, and vice chairman of both the Catholic Charities and Archdiocesan Education Board. He had served as vicar for Charles and Calvert counties, dean of Middle Prince George's County and president of the Senate of Priests. He was given the title of monsignor in 1984.

Monsignor Scanlan had been ordained in 1959, then served as associate pastor of Little Flower Catholic Church in Bethesda until 1971, and then at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Oxon Hill until 1975.

He was pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Indian Head from 1975 to 1979 and of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Waldorf until 1984.

He was a special adviser to Cardinal James A. Hickey on school development issues from 1984 to 1986. Then, after a year as pastor of the Catholic Church of the Epiphany in Georgetown, he was pastor of St. Jane de Chantal Catholic Church in Bethesda until 1990.

Monsignor Scanlan, a Washington native, was a graduate of St. John's College High School and St. Mary's University in Baltimore. He received a master's degree in theology from Catholic University in Louvain, Belgium, and received a second master's degree, in divinity, from Washington Theological Union.

His hobbies included gardening, architecture and travel.

Survivors include two brothers, James G., of Vienna, and Thomas C., of Fairfax; and three sisters, M. Patricia Scanlan of Washington, Sheila Scanlan Sabatini of Potomac and Sister Margaret Shawn Scanlan S.N.D. of Baltimore.