Friends and parishioners are fondly remembering Monsignor Donald Kiernan, the retired pastor of All Saints Catholic Church, who died Jan. 9. He was 93.
A prayer vigil is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan.16, at 6 p.m. at All Saints Catholic Church, 2443 Mount Vernon Road. A reception will follow in All Saints Parish Hall. A funeral mass will be Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 11 a.m., at the church followed by a reception in the gym.
“He was about as personable a person you could get,” said Bob Fiscella, a member of All Saints since 1993. “He could put everyone at ease.”
Fiscella and his wife, Rita, were married by Kiernan in 1995 and he baptized their children.
“He was just a great guy,” Fiscella said. “He transcended the Catholic community in Dunwoody and everyone knew him. I’m sure he never had to pick up a check at a Dunwoody restaurant.”
Named a monsignor in 1969, Kiernan served as the pastor of several parishes until he was assigned as pastor of All Saints Church, Dunwoody, in 1985, where he served for 25 years, according to The Georgia Bulletin, the newspaper for the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Kiernan came to Georgia soon after becoming ordained in 1949. At the time, he said in a previous interview with Reporter Newspapers, there were only 33 Catholic priests in the entire state. His first assignment was in Savannah and he also served in communities like Cedartown, Gainesville, Monroe and downtown Atlanta.
In 2011, he was honored by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia legislature for his accomplishments upon his retirement from All Saints, as recorded in Dunwoody City Councilmember John Heneghan’s blog.
Heneghan said Kiernan was “a great guy, a jovial guy, full of life.”
“The community is going to miss him,” he said.
Mayor Denis Shortal, a member of the All Saints Knights of Columbus, said Kiernan “was a man of the people.”
“Not only was he liked, he was revered and loved,” Shortal said. “He was a special human being, a holy man and also a man who could understand the common Catholic. And he had a sense of humor that was never ending that endeared him to folks.”
Shortal said Kiernan was at this past year’s Fourth of July Parade, sitting where he always sat along the route in front of All Saints. The monsignor served as the parade’s first grand marshal in 1995.
Kiernan had a special affinity for the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, according to Fiscella and Shortal. Shortal, who is a member of Saint Jude the Apostle Catholic Church, said he remembers attending All Saints one Sunday and Kiernan joking about not having tickets during his sermon.
“He said if someone got him tickets that the next time they went to confession to tell him who they are and he would only have them say a couple Our Fathers and Hail Marys, no matter what they did,” Shortal said. “And he got two tickets.”
Kiernan also blazed a few trails within the law enforcement community. He helped organize the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, which offers training as well as educational and information sharing opportunities to its personnel. He was also a chaplain for both the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.