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.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.

8 replies on “Beloved Dunwoody Monsignor Kiernan dies at 93”

  1. I have attended All Saints since I was in high school and the Church was in the office buildings near PCMS. He married my husband and I in 1986 and baptized both of our children. He was an amazing man and touched so many lives. He will be greatly missed.

  2. Monsignor was not only a ‘man of God but also a man of the people’. I can hear him now being greeted by the Angels, “My good people… all of my stories are true, but some are truer than others!” I smile with a tear of gratitude for having known him.

  3. I was an altar boy for him at the old Immaculate conception church and school where he would come in to check on religion class. He was just the nicest person to everyone he came in contact with over the years. Great man and great loss.

  4. Members of the Rotary Club of Atlanta West End remember the Monsignor with great joy and thanksgiving during his long association as a member of our Club. With grace, joy, and terrific humor, Fr. John Keirnan always extended encouragement, provided inspiration to be better people, and gave genuine acceptance to everyone. All of us benefited greatly from our relationship with him during his faithful participation in our Friday noon meetings.

  5. Such an inspirational figure of my childhood and teens at All Saints. Whether we were singing in the children’s choir, being altar servers, or simply attending Mass, all of us kids loved when we got to see Msgr. Kiernan. What I loved most about him is that, even when I was a child, he could take a quick moment here and there to actually talk with me. As busy and popular a pastor as he was, he still made enough time to impart a bit of advice or a funny joke to the youngsters. He was a true face of leadership.
    I ran into him much less frequently as an adult. I think the last time I saw him was attending Mass at Mary Our Queen, where he recognized my face and we exchanged smiles and hello’s. I’m sad that I won’t get to greet him anymore in this life, but I have no doubt that he’s enjoying the fullness of God’s presence from here on.

  6. Monsignor married me and my wife and he buried my parents (St. Jude). I was lucky to have been elected to the parish board and working with him was a pleasure and great learning experience. He was a frequent dinner guest at my parents’ home and was so full of life and joy. I am sure by now he has already organized all the law enforcement officers in heaven!

  7. Father was our priest at Saint Bernadette’s in Cedartown when I was in grade school. My three brothers served as altar boys for him. He was always a fun, loving priest and friend. We lived in Rockmart, about ten miles from church. Father was always coming for a visit, especially on his way to Atlanta. I remember that siren he had in his car…being a state patrol! He would sound it off as he rode away! My brothers loved it! God gained a beautiful servant in heaven. I know my Mama will love seeing him walk through those pearly gates! They have lots of catching up!

  8. As a long time dear friend of Monsignor Kiernan, I am celebrating his outstanding life and mourning his passing. Monsignor’s love for his boyhood home in Taunton, Massachusetts was never-ending. He came back to us for as many years as he could make the trip, and we spoke at least once a week.
    My heartfelt gratitude to the people of Dunwoody for the love and affection bestowed on Monsignor Kiernan, and to Joan McGuyver for her kind care and friendship. I know the Monsignor was very grateful.

    May the road rise up to meet you, Monsignor
    May the wind be always at your back
    May the sun shine warm upon your Irish face
    May the rain fall soft upon your fields
    And until we meet again, may you be held in the palm of God’s hand.

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