Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Longtime priest of the archdiocese, Msgr. Leo Herbert, dies

Published May 18, 2017

ATLANTA—Msgr. Leo Herbert, who was recently honored for 50 years of priestly service in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, died May 15.

The Irish native was 74.

Msgr. Leo Herbert

Born in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, he was the youngest in a family of four sisters and a brother. Msgr. Herbert came to the United States after being ordained at All Hallows College in Dublin in 1967. He chose to serve in Atlanta after hearing then vocations director Msgr. P.J. O’Connor speak about the needs of the church in the South on one of his visits to Ireland.

His priestly ministry was diverse, from assistant pastor in a growing diocese, serving Catholic men and women in the armed services, working as a high school teacher and as a pastor.

His first assignments were at St. Joseph Church, Athens; St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta; and Holy Cross Church, Atlanta.

In 1971, four years after ordination, Msgr. Herbert volunteered to serve as a U.S. Army chaplain. His military career began with a chaplaincy at Fort Benning’s Officer Candidate School in Columbus. Within months, he became the Georgia base’s first Catholic hospital chaplain in some time and served at the base for just under two years. He went on to serve at military bases in Alaska and Kansas during the next three years.

“It was just something I wanted to try,” he told The Georgia Bulletin in a 1982 article.

He returned to his ministry in the Atlanta Archdiocese, spending two years in the classroom at St. Pius X High School.

His first assignment as pastor was at St. Bernadette Church, Cedartown, and later he was pastor of Corpus Christi Church, Stone Mountain, and St. George Church, Newnan. He was the founding pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Kennesaw, where he was assigned in 1981.

After more than 40 years of ministry as a priest, Msgr. Herbert’s last assignment as pastor was in the rural North Georgia mountains at Our Lady of the Mount Church, in Lookout Mountain, and administrator of the St. Katharine Drexel Mission, Trenton. He retired in 2011. It was Msgr. Herbert who first spoke to Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory about the need for a mission church in Trenton. Prior to its establishment, Catholics traveled to Alabama and Tennessee to attend Mass.

The vigil service and funeral Mass will be celebrated jointly for Msgr. Herbert and Father Terry Kane, priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta for 49 years, who passed away on May 17 at the age of 75.

Reception of the bodies will take place at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23, with visitation from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The vigil service, celebrated by Bishop Luis R. Zarama, will immediately follow at 7 p.m.

The funeral Mass will be concelebrated by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and the priests of the archdiocese at the Cathedral of Christ the King on Wednesday, May 24, at 10:30 a.m. The funeral Mass will be streamed online at

Interment for Msgr. Herbert will immediately follow the Mass at Arlington Memorial Park, Sandy Springs. Inurnment of Father Kane’s cremains will take place on Saturday, May 27, at 2 p.m. at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Hartwell.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from the print edition of The Georgia Bulletin to include information about the passing of Father Terry Kane on May 17 and planned celebration of a joint vigil service and funeral Mass for the two priests of the archdiocese.