Joseph V Kiernan, OFM
1936 – 2011
Fr. Joseph Kiernan, OFM, was born on March 19, 1936 in the Bronx, N.Y. He was educated at St. Margaret’s Elementary School and All Hallows Institute, graduating in 1954. He enrolled in the U.S. Navy Reserve and attended college, receiving a bachelor’s degree in physics from Manhattan College in 1959. After graduation, he served in the Navy as a nuclear trained electronic technician.
He joined the “sixth year” class of St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., and was received into the Order in 1964 at St. Raphael’s Friary, Lafayette, N.J., and given the religious name Eugene. He professed temporary vows one year later and reverted back to his baptismal name before making his solemn profession in 1968. Fr. Joseph was ordained in 1969.
A conscientious student, Fr. Joe expressed an interest in teaching, and remained at Holy Name College in Washington after ordination to pursue graduate studies at The Catholic University of America. He received his bachelor’s in 1970 and a master’s degree in moral theology in 1971. That fall, he began teaching at the Washington Theological Union. He made rapid progress in his studies, receiving his doctorate in 1973. His thesis, “The Adequacy of Catholic Moral Teaching in Terms of Current Population Problems,” was indicative of his strong interest in the ethical implications of global issues.
After five years of teaching, he spent one year doing clinical pastoral education at St. Raphael’s Hospital in New Haven, Conn., and was also a research fellow at the Yale University Divinity School. He then served from 1977 to 1979 as a member of the novitiate formation team and procurator at St. Francis Friary in Brookline, Mass. Afterward, given his interest in social issues, Fr. Joe accepted a position as justice and peace liaison for Global Education Associates of East Orange, N.J., serving from 1979 to 1982 while assisting at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in West Milford, N.J. He also worked as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University.
In 1982, Fr. Joe was named executive secretary of the HNP Justice and Peace Committee to spearhead and coordinate efforts in that area. He remained in this position until 1985, and also worked part-time as a staff member at Bread for the World in Washington. That year, he was named parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Apopka, Fla., taking over as pastor in 1989. Fr. Joe was successful and happy in his parish, working with the re-founding process then underway in the Province, involving the laity as partners-in-ministry.
Illness set in in 1996, and Fr. Joe transferred to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Va., as parochial vicar. He remained there in a limited capacity until 2000, when he moved to St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla. In 2002, he transferred to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J.
He died there on Dec. 19, 2011. Fr. Joe was 75 years old, a professed Franciscan friar for 46 years and a priest for 42 years.