Death of a priest

By Tom Quiner

Fr. Jim Kiernan died last night.

I wasn’t close to him, but I really liked the guy. Fr. Kiernan loved being a priest. He loved his Catholic faith. And he loved talking about God.

His sermons were folksy and totally accessible to kids, teenagers, and adults alike. In fact, he said Mass yesterday at the Basilica here in Des Moines. You can watch his final homily above. He would be dead before the night was through of a heart attack.

I have no doubt he is talking Jesus’ ears off this very moment in heaven (as any good Irishman would do!).

There is one sermon that stood out to me. He simply asked, “Have you ever thanked God for the gift of your life? Tonight, in the quiet of your bedroom, I encourage you to simply get down on your knees and thank God for the gift of your life.”

In this culture where human life is considered so disposable by an entire political party and half of a nation, Fr. Kiernan’s prayer is rather radical. And yet it is so true.

Your life and mine is a gift, a precious gift from our Creator.

You and I are totally unique, one-of-a-kind creations of God, the Father. I shall never forget Fr. Kiernan’s prayer. I say it all the time.




  1. Jeane on May 16, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks, Tom.
    How wonderful that you have this sermon posted here.
    I will treasure it.
    God bless dear Fr. Kiernan.

  2. leftfooter on May 16, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Thank you, and God bless!

  3. bkw on May 16, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Whenever he said Mass at the basilica, his love for the priesthood and teaching shined brightly.

  4. parrillaturi on May 16, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    We need to thank Him every day. I thank Him for the gifts He has bestowed upon me, every morning. My dad, a minister for over 60 years, implanted this on us children, early on.

  5. Katy Doyle Groves on May 18, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Fr. Kiernan has maintained a special place in my heart since high school! No doubt about it, he has done the work of God! RIP!!

    • quinersdiner on May 18, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Katy, thanks for sharing your memories. He was a memorable priest.

  6. Anonymous on June 8, 2016 at 12:25 am

    From the moment Fr. Kiernan began a mass all eyes would be focused on the humble man, but it would be his word and mannerisms that I yearend for. His masses were a departure from the “By the Book” ritual to a one on one conversation with every churchgoer in the pews. He had the ability to capture the attention of all congregations no matter what church at which he was present. Nobody knew what Fr, Kiernan would say next and many like myself were glued to his every word.
    Our AOH Chapter will soon be named after our beloved chaplain Father James Kiernan.

    • quinersdiner on June 8, 2016 at 6:01 am

      Thanks for sharing your memories of a great priest.

  7. Anonymous on June 16, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    I grew up in Council Bluffs and for a time he was a priest at our parish, St. Peters. I moved to Des Moines in 1995 and soon started Basilica of St. John. Father Kiernan married me and my wife there in 2004. We thought it uncanny when Father Kiernan said mass at the Basilica this May, the same weekend of our 12th wedding anniversary. The diocese was lucky to have such a faithful servant of God. He is missed.