Published August 24, 2017
ATLANTA—Msgr. Edward J. Dillon, pastor of Holy Spirit Church in Atlanta, celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood on June 10.
Holy Spirit parishioners, friends and family members gathered for a Mass and reception in his honor Sunday, June 11, which was also his 30th anniversary as pastor of Holy Spirit Church. The following day, June 12, was another milestone in his priesthood—the 25th anniversary of being named a monsignor.
A native of County Carlow, Ireland, Msgr. Dillon studied for the priesthood at St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, and was ordained for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in June 1967. While he started his priestly service as a parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Atlanta, Msgr. Dillon was asked to serve in the marriage Tribunal shortly thereafter. He began several decades of serving in many archdiocesan roles in administration and leadership.
To serve in the Tribunal, Msgr. Dillon attended graduate school at The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., earning three degrees in canon law, including a doctorate. He was the youngest officialis of a tribunal in the country when he was placed in charge in Atlanta in 1972. He oversaw the archdiocesan Tribunal for 14 years and then directed the Provincial Court of Appeals for five more years. He was elected president of the Canon Law Society of America in 1976.
Appointed pastor of Holy Spirit in 1987, Msgr. Dillon was also vicar general of the archdiocese from 1988-1997, serving three archbishops. He served as administrator of the archdiocese following the death of Archbishop James P. Lyke, OFM, until the appointment of Archbishop John F. Donoghue. Under Archbishop Lyke and Archbishop Donoghue, he also served as moderator of the curia, coordinating the administrative offices of the Chancery. He has served full time as pastor of Holy Spirit Church since 1997.
Msgr. Dillon’s sister and brother-in-law and a nephew and his fiancée attended the anniversary Mass and reception, traveling from Canada. Former parishioners and staff members also returned for the celebration.
Msgr. Dillon is chaplain to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Both groups had members join the procession into Mass. Frank Hanna III, representing the Order of St. Gregory the Great, also participated. A Knights of Columbus honor guard was present.
A former chaplain of the Fulton County Police Department, Msgr. Dillon has also been chaplain of the Metro Atlanta Police Emerald Society since its inception in 1998.
“He is dedicated to MAPES and taking care of police officers,” said Jackie Bohling of Holy Spirit Church.
At the anniversary Mass, the Emerald Society’s honor guard escorted the pastor.
Members Scott Priestly, Billy O’Haire and bagpiper Edwin Ivey represented the society.
Msgr. Dillon thanked parish staff and volunteers for making the celebration special. He expressed gratitude to friends and parishioners.
“Thank you for the support that you have given me over the last 30 years. … And the support you have consistently given to all of the priests who have been part of Holy Spirit Parish during that period of time. That is critically important,” he said.
He noted the connection between priests and the people at Holy Sprit is an example or model of the “connectedness” that should exist within the church.
Following the 11:30 a.m. Mass, guests enjoyed a three-tiered cake honoring the priest’s jubilee with cupcakes for all.