Published August 7, 2014
ATLANTA—Father John Joseph Meehan, who at one time served as the pastor of St. Patrick Church in Norcross, died June 2 in Jacksonville, Florida. He was 76.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, on July 9, 1937, he was the son of James and Kathleen (Gough) Meehan. According to a news article in the St. Augustine Catholic magazine, Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida, he studied at St. Mary’s College in Oscott, England, in 1959 and in the novitiate of the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales and completed graduate studies at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He was ordained a priest in Dublin, Ireland.
In 1977, Father Meehan was sent to the United States to serve at St. Patrick Church in Norcross, where he remained until 1982. The parish at the time was under the care of the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales. While he was pastor, a new church was built and the parish incorporated many liturgical innovations at that time, including an immersion baptismal pool.
In 1982, Father Meehan began serving in the Diocese of St. Augustine. According to the St. Augustine Catholic, he was associate pastor of St. Catherine of Siena, Orange Park, from 1982-85, pastor of St. Madeleine, High Springs, from 1985-93, and pastor of St. John the Baptist, Atlantic Beach, from 1993-2008, when he retired.
The article said as a young man he was a member of one of Dublin’s amateur running clubs and won titles for his speed. He had planned on pursuing a degree in accounting before recognizing his true calling. In 2008, he said, “I thought I wanted to be an accountant. I was keener on running than anything else. Then one day during one of my runs, I thought, ‘There has to be something better to do with my life.’”
After retirement he continued to assist at many parishes in the Jacksonville area.
In the online obituary, dozens of families posted remembrances of his close association with their children and grandchildren and their families at times of joy and sorrow. He was also active in Marriage Encounter.
Deanna Simmons, of Lawrenceville, said that her family and others in the area had kept in contact with Father Meehan since he served in Norcross 30 years ago. He celebrated the marriages of both her daughters, who went to the preschool at St. Patrick’s Church, baptized one grandchild and was scheduled to baptize the next grandchild, expected in late August.
“He was truly a good and gentle and holy man,” she said. “He had many friends still here in the Atlanta area.”
He is survived by a sister, Elizabeth Nugent, and two brothers, Patrick and Matthew McDonough, all of Dublin, Ireland; and other extended family members.
The funeral Mass was celebrated June 6 at Blessed Trinity Church in Jacksonville by Bishop Felipe Estevez, bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, followed by burial in San Lorenzo Cemetery in St. Augustine.