Local News Archive
Print Issue: April 13, 2000
Archbishop Names Two New Vicars General
by Gretchen Keiser
ATLANTAArchbishop John F. Donoghue has replaced his vicar general, Msgr. Peter A. Dora, effective April 27 and named two priests to succeed him as vicars general.
Father Paul H. Reynolds, pastor of St. Andrew Church, Roswell, has been named vicar general in curia. Msgr. R. Donald Kiernan, pastor of All Saints Church, Dunwoody, has been named vicar general for pastoral ministries.
Father Reynolds, 62, will handle the day-to-day business at the Catholic Center and serve as moderator of the curia, Archbishop Donoghue said; Msgr. Kiernan, 75, the senior active priest of the archdiocese, will focus on archdiocesan matters that relate to the pastors and parishes.
Since both are pastors, both will serve part-time at first, the archbishop said. He hopes to free Father Reynolds to serve full time in the long term.
Under canon law, the diocesan bishop freely appoints and removes the vicar general, who serves as his closest advisor and chief administrator. The post must be held by a priest. By his office, the vicar general possesses that executive power in the entire diocese which belongs to the diocesan bishop in law... and normally has expert competence in either canon law or theology.
Appointed in September 1997, Msgr. Dora has served for two and a half years. Other than to say that it was the archbishops decision to replace him, he declined comment. He said he plans to take a six-month sabbatical granted by the archbishop and then be available for a new priestly assignment within the archdiocese.
I do want to thank (Msgr. Dora) for the work he has done, the archbishop said. He worked hard and I am grateful for all he did and for the generosity he showed. For the good of the church, he willingly took this on.
Ordained in 1972, Msgr. Dora has been a priest for 27 years and was on the staff of the Metropolitan Tribunal for nine years, including four as Officialis. He was a former editor of The Georgia Bulletin, communications director and spokesman for the archdiocese. He designed the archdiocesan web page and will continue to serve as webmaster.
Father Reynolds, a priest for 37 years, was born in Dublin, Ireland, and is a graduate of All Hallows Seminary. He has served long tenures as a pastor in Lilburn and Roswell parishes where he is highly regarded. He founded St. John Neumann Church, Lilburn, served as its pastor for 11 years, and has been the pastor at St. Andrew Church for over 11 years since 1988. St. John Neumann Regional Catholic School was established and launched while he was the Lilburn pastor.
He has been a member of the Priest Personnel Board and he serves as a judge for the Court of Appeals of the Province of Atlanta and is the dean of northwest metro pastors. In the 1980s he belonged to the archbishops College of Consultors and served on the archdiocesan Board of Education.
First of all, I think he is a wonderful priest, an excellent priest. He has the right attitude about what a priest should be. He wants to serve the church, Archbishop Donoghue said. He is a good priest, respected by the people.
Working with him on the Evangelization Committee for 2000-2001, the archbishop said he has been impressed with his judgments.
Father Reynolds and Msgr. Kiernan are two guys I feel very comfortable with, he said.
I want to articulate, with their help, a new direction for the diocese. I dont know what that new direction should be. I need the advice of guys who have been pastors practically all of their priesthood. I want to do this gradually, but methodically and slowly, and do it well.
As moderator of the curia, Father Reynolds normally will chair weekly meetings of heads of Catholic Center secretariats, Archbishop Donoghue said.
Agency directors or secretaries will report through him to me, he said.
Father Reynolds said the archbishops decision was a major surprise to him.
I have had a parish, pastoral kind of life for 37 years, he said, acknowledging that he approaches the new role with humility.
I will come in to learn the job, he said. Although he was reluctant to draw comparisons between a pastors role and that of the vicar general, he said, as a pastor, I do like to work with people. That is my style. I like to consult ... I do like to talk to people.
He said at St. John Neumann and at St. Andrew I have been very blessed ... in that there have been excellent peoplejust excellent people.
He said he plans to be at the Catholic Center a couple of days a week and will work closely with Msgr. Kiernan.
Although he is a pastor in Roswell, where Queen of Angels School is located, Father Reynolds said he was not involved in the recent controversy that erupted over the budget and site-based management at the new Catholic school.
Archbishop Donoghue said he would ask both new vicars to advise him regarding Queen of Angels.
When a second vicar general is named, a specific area of responsibility must be designated to that person, the archbishop said. In the case of Msgr. Kiernan, that will be pastoral ministries, he said, explaining that where priests have concerns with what they want to do in their parishes, they would go to him.
Msgr. Kiernan, a native of Taunton, Mass., who studied at Mount St. Marys Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., celebrated his 50th jubilee of priesthood in 1999. He chose Father Reynolds as the homilist for his jubilee Mass.
A pastor with experience in six different parishes of the archdiocese, Msgr. Kiernan most recently has been pastor of All Saints Church, where he has served for over 14 years. He was pastor of St. Judes Church, Sandy Springs, for 10 years, and of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Atlanta, for eight years. He was editor of The Georgia Bulletin for 13 years.
In addition, Msgr. Kiernan has built a legacy of service to many community and state organizations in Georgia, including chaplain to the Georgia State Patrol, to the DeKalb County Police Department, to the local division of the ATF and the Knights of Columbus. He founded the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and has served as its director and chaplain for over 20 years and serves on the Executive Committee of the Metropolitan Atlanta Boy Scouts of America. He holds honorary doctorates from Biscayne College in Miami, from Georgia State University and from Providence College in Rhode Island. He was named a monsignor in 1969. Like Father Reynolds, he serves as a judge for the Court of Appeals of the Province of Atlanta.
The reason I want Msgr. (Kiernan) in pastoral ministries is that he gets along well with people and especially with priests and he has done a variety of jobs in the diocese. He is politically astute, Archbishop Donoghue said.
Msgr. Kiernan said that he intends to give (the post) as much time as I feel that Im of assistance to the archbishop. In other words, he comes first.
When you are ordained, you pledge the archbishop your loyalty, Msgr. Kiernan said. Ive put 51 years in this archdiocese. I want to feel Ive left a contribution. I welcome this opportunity.
Despite his senior status, Msgr. Kiernan said that he feels very well physically and I really love this job.
If I found out I couldnt also take care of this parish, I would have to give (the parish) up, he said. But I think that I can do it.
I like people, Msgr. Kiernan said, adding at his parish, I think everyone is happy to come to work here. He expressed hope that he could bring his appreciation for people to his interactions with staff at the Catholic Center.
In relation to the controversy over Queen of Angels School, Msgr. Kiernan said only that he would assist the archbishop in any way he was asked.
The archbishop is a good man and hes got the good of the people at heart, Msgr. Kiernan said. I think he really wants to have a good school system and spread the faith.
Father Paul J. Hachey, SM, judicial vicar for the Court of Appeals, said both Father Reynolds and Msgr. Kiernan have offered outstanding ministry to the Court of Appeals.
It is a wonderful choice for both men and for the archdiocese, he said.
The president of the Council of Priests, Father James Schillinger, said that both priests have the respect of the priests of the archdiocese.
Father Reynolds is a priests priest, Father Schillinger said. Hes fair, hes honest, hes a man of integrity ... He is a fine man and a good pastor. He very much enjoys the respect of his brother priests.
Msgr. Kiernan has served the archdiocese long and well, Father Schillinger said. He has been very visible not only in the Catholic realm. He has been a good ambassador for the archdiocese outside of Catholic circles.
On the Council of Priests, he was always balanced and fair and had a lot of good humor, the priest added. Both are fine guys, both are priests priests and they certainly enjoy on a very high level the respect of their fellow priests.
Father Paul H. Reynolds
Monsignor R. Donald Kiernan