Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue Dies at Age 83

"Archbishop Donoghue installed me at my first pastorate at St. Philip Benizi in 1995.  I will always remember him for his gentleness and graciousness and his love for the Eucharist."

 -Bishop of Savannah Gregory Hartmayer, OFM Conv

"Archbishop Donoghue ordained me at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist as the 13th Bishop of Savannah on April 18th, 1995.  The Archbishop was a great friend. He was a gracious host.  His life-long devotion for the Church was an example for all to follow."

-Bishop Emeritus of Savannah J. Kevin Boland

News Release
November 12, 2011

Archdiocese of Atlanta – Archbishop-emeritus John Francis Donoghue, the fifth archbishop of the Atlanta Archdiocese, died Friday, Nov. 11, at the age of 83. Archbishop Donoghue served as archbishop of Atlanta from Aug. 19, 1993, until Dec. 9, 2004, when Pope John Paul II accepted his retirement due to age.

When he was appointed archbishop of Atlanta, Archbishop Donoghue made the center of his pastoral work among Catholics to renew understanding of and devotion to the Eucharist as the real presence of Christ, which is a central dogma of the Catholic faith. He initiated a Eucharistic Renewal, which inspired renewed teaching on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist through many forms, including lay seminars where individuals shared their faith stories. He also initiated chapels for adoration of the Eucharist, opening the first at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta in June 1994. The chapel has had perpetual adoration there for over 17 years. Over 70 parishes of the archdiocese have prayer before the Eucharist regularly, eight with perpetual adoration chapels.

Archbishop Donoghue expressed the hope in 1994 that these perpetual adoration chapels would bring “a grace hitherto unfelt in the archdiocese.”  Flowing from this renewal, a Eucharistic Congress is held in Atlanta yearly that provides multilingual and multicultural faith teaching to gatherings of 20,000 to 30,000. It is the longest continually running Eucharistic Congress in the United States and believed to be the largest in attendance.

Archbishop Donoghue also believed deeply in the importance of Catholic schools and fostered efforts to build new Catholic schools, including two archdiocesan high schools and three archdiocesan elementary schools.
Archbishop Donoghue also was devoted to the pro-life cause, frequently speaking on the teaching of the church on the dignity of human life from conception until natural death and participating in prayer vigils.

The son of Irish immigrants who met and married in Washington, D.C., he said he knew in high school that he wanted to become a Catholic priest. He was able to devote 56 years of his life after his priestly ordination to serving the Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., in Charlotte, N.C., and in Atlanta. He was a bishop for 27 of those years.

Archbishop Donoghue was born Aug. 9, 1928, one of four sons of Daniel and Rose (Ryan) Donoghue, and raised in northwest Washington. Following study at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore and Roland Park, Md., where he received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a graduate degree in theology, he was ordained a priest of the Washington Archdiocese on June 4, 1955 by then-Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle. While he often said that he expected to serve all his life as a parish priest, he was asked in 1964 to study for a licentiate in canon law and then assigned to the archbishop’s office. For the next 18 years, he served on the staffs of three successive Washington cardinals: Cardinal O’Boyle, Cardinal William Baum and Cardinal James Hickey. From 1972 until 1983, he was the chancellor, vicar general and secretary for support services of the Archdiocese of Washington.  In 1984, he was also named moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of Washington, where he served until appointed by Pope John Paul II as bishop of Charlotte, N.C.

He was ordained and installed as Charlotte’s second bishop on Dec. 18, 1984. Among the accomplishments in his tenure as bishop of Charlotte were the first synod of the diocese, which held three sessions from 1986 to 1987; the reorganization of the Catholic schools into a regional structure; an emphasis on evangelization directed toward inactive Catholics and the unchurched; and the opening of a Catholic newspaper, The Catholic News & Herald, in 1991. He played a leading role in the development of the North Carolina Lutheran-Catholic Covenant signed in 1991 by the Dioceses of Charlotte and Raleigh and the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

In the Atlanta Archdiocese, he succeeded Archbishop James P. Lyke, OFM, who died Dec. 27, 1992, of cancer after only two years in office.

Archbishop Donoghue said the day of his Atlanta appointment, “I hope that I’m going to be here for a very long time … that I will be here until I retire. ”

Pope John Paul II spoke to him and told him to “be very kind” to the people of the archdiocese and “to try and bring peace and reconciliation. ”

When he opened perpetual adoration at the Cathedral on June 5, 1994, he said, “It is our fervent hope that by our efforts and our devotion, the peace of God, who lives with us in our tabernacles through the life of His son, may penetrate deeply into the fabric of our society and bring our community to a new awareness of its own worth, and a new sense of promise and direction in all its ideals and actions. ”

The body of Archbishop Donoghue will lie in state at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 353 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta.  Viewing times: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm on Wednesday, November 16, and 8:30 am -10:00 am on Thursday, November 17.At 10:15 am there will be a procession of the body to the Cathedral of Christ the King, 2699 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta.  The funeral Mass will begin at 11:00 am on Thursday at the Cathedral of Christ the King.

For more information, contact Pat Chivers at or 678-480-6865.

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