Msgr. Eugene Joseph Kernan, 90, a priest of the Diocese of Camden for over 60 years, died April 7.
Born in Camden, Msgr. Kernan studied for the priesthood at Saint Mary Seminary in Baltimore. He was ordained on June 11, 1949 by
Bishop Bartholomew J. Eustace. (His own father had been Bishop Eustace’s chauffeur from 1939-51.)
“He was a great servant of the church; his parishioners and fellow priests loved him,” said Msgr. Andrew Martin, the retired president of Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill, and cousin and godson to Msgr. Kernan.
“He enjoyed family and friends, and enjoyed life,” Msgr. Martin said, adding that when he himself was ordained a priest in Rome in 1967, Msgr. Kernan concelebrated his first Mass.
“My Godfather always conveyed a happy spirit,” he said.
As a parish pastor, Msgr. Kernan served at Incarnation, Mantua, 1961-78; Sacred Heart, Mount Ephraim, 1978-86; and Saint Paul in Stone Harbor, where he served from 1986 until his retirement in 1999.
He seemed to have been universally well-liked and respected. A parishioner’s letter to the Star Herald when he was leaving Incarnation Parish was typical of the warmth he inspired: “Father Kernan married my husband and me when he was here only one year. He converted me to Catholicism, baptized my children and has been there through all my ups and downs these 17 years.”
Msgr. Kernan was parochial vicar at Holy Spirit Parish, Atlantic City, 1949-56; Assumption, Atco, 1956-60, and Saint Peter, Merchantville, 1960-61.
He also served as a chaplain at Ancora State Hospital, Winslow Township, and Eastern Shore Nursing Home, Cape May Court House.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated April 14 at Camden’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Interment was in Calvary Cemetery, Cherry Hill.