Published June 9, 2011
Msgr. Leo Herbert, pastor of Our Lady of the Mount and administrator of St. Katharine Drexel Mission, Trenton, will retire July 7.
A native of Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Msgr. Herbert came to the U.S. after being ordained at All Hallows College in Dublin in 1967. The youngest in a family of four sisters and a brother, the young Herbert decided on diocesan service in the U.S. after hearing then Atlanta vocations director, Msgr. P.J. O’Connor, speak about the needs of the church in the South on one of his periodic visits to Ireland.
His first assignments were at St. Joseph Church, Athens, St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta, and Holy Cross Church, Chamblee.
Msgr. Herbert became a U.S. Army chaplain in 1971, and he was sent to Fort Benning in Columbus.
“It was just something I wanted to try,” he told The Georgia Bulletin in a 1982 article.
His military career began with a chaplaincy at Fort Benning’s Officer Candidate School. Within months, he became the base’s first Catholic hospital chaplain in some time and served at the Columbus base for just under two years. He went on to serve at bases in Alaska and Kansas over the next three years.
He returned to his ministry in the Atlanta Archdiocese with a two-year stint at St. Pius X High School.
His first assignment as pastor was at the small St. Bernadette Church in Cedartown, and later he was pastor of Corpus Christi Church, Stone Mountain, and St. George in Newnan. He was the founding pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Kennesaw, where he was assigned in 1981.
In a letter to Msgr. Herbert, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said, “Yours is the account of an exemplary priestly journey—from your formative seminary years in Ireland, across to Georgia, to become a young assistant-pastor serving the needs of a burgeoning Church—then the years of chaplaincy, working for our country and for Catholic men and women in the Armed Services—followed by your return home, and the resumption of home duties: as a teacher and leader, and an early friend to our many immigrant brothers and sisters, as a hard-working pastor of souls, and a builder of our Lord’s family and the churches to house His people and His work.”
After more than 40 years of ministry as a priest to the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Msgr. Herbert finished his last assignment as pastor of Our Lady of the Mount Church and administrator of the St. Katharine Drexel Mission.
Archbishop Gregory said, “I am writing … to congratulate you, to wish you our best on the occasion of your retirement, and above all, to offer to God on your behalf, our many prayers of appreciation and gratitude for the forty-four years of priestly service and life you have given to our Church here in north and central Georgia.”