Obituary ~ Rev. James Kiernan
April 14, 1935 ~ May 15, 2016
Rev. James Kiernan died May 15, 2016 at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines on May 23rd at 10:00 a.m. The family will receive friends from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. Sunday May 22nd at Saint Ambrose Cathedral. There will be a Rosary at 2:00 p.m. and a Vigil Service at 5:00 p.m. Burial will be in the priest section of Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines.
Father James Kiernan was born April 14, 1935 to John and Alice Kiernan in Des Moines, Iowa and raised on a farm near Booneville, Iowa. He attended country schools, Van Meter School and graduated from Dowling Catholic High School. After high school he went on to Loras College and Mount Saint Bernard Seminary. Father Kiernan was ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 1962 at St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines. He did graduate work at Creighton University and received a Masters Degree in Education.
He taught at Dowling High School until 1964 when he began teaching at St. Albert High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He became principal in 1972. Father Kiernan moved to Des Moines to serve at the Basilica of St. John as Pastor until 1977. He then was transferred to Chariton where he served as Pastor of Sacred Heart Church and the connected Leon Regional Catholic Community. He became Coordinator of the Harrison County Team Ministry and Pastor of Saint Patrick Church in Missouri Valley in 1988. While serving in this capacity in 1992 he was Director of the St. Thomas More Center in Panora, Iowa. In 1993 he moved to Council Bluffs to be the Pastor of St. Peter Parish. In 1996 he was made the Rector of St. Ambrose Cathedral where he served until he retired in 2005.
Father Kiernan was an excellent priest and loved being a priest. He was known for his concern for the education and formation of young people. He began youth ministry in Council Bluffs while he was there. He had a great devotion to Holy Family School in Des Moines and made a great effort to know the students. In retirement he filled in many parishes in the Des Moines area and was known for his very interesting homilies. He was active in ministry right up to and including his last day at the Basilica of Saint John. He had a love for the Irish and especially St. Patrick’s Parish, Irish Settlement. He was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Experimental Air Association and National Priest Pilots. He was known for his interest in cars and airplanes.
Father Kiernan is survived by his brother, Gary (Carol) Kiernan; sister, Mary Beth (Richard) Craven; nieces, Anne Tealer and Lynn Kiernan; nephews, Brian, Mark, Tim, John, Matt, Dan, Peter and Michael Kiernan, Nate and Benjamin Shambaugh; many great nieces, great nephews, cousins and extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Alice (Watts) Kiernan and brothers, Jack and Tom Kiernan.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Holy Family School Foundation, Priest Pension Fund or Basilica of St. John Elevator Fund.
Rosary: 2:00 p.m., May 22 at St. Ambrose Cathedral, 607 High St., Des Moines, IA.
Visitation: 2:00 - 5:00 p.m., May 22 at St. Ambrose Cathedral.
Vigil service: 5:00 p.m., May 22, St. Ambrose Cathedral.
Funeral Mass: 10:00 a.m., May 23, St. Ambrose Cathedral.
Interment at Glendale Cemetery, 4909 University Ave., Des Moines, IA
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2016