CHICAGO — The Rev. Donald Joseph Ahearn, a former pastor at St. Juliana Church in Edison Park, died Sunday, church officials announced.
Ahearn died on Jan. 1 after a brief stay at a hospice in Niles, according to the announcement. He was 91.
An ordained priest since 1951, Ahearn served as pastor or assistant pastor at seven different parishes in the city and suburbs before 1975, when he become pastor and administrator of St. Juliana, 7201 N. Oketo Ave.
He served in that role until 1995, when he retired and was named Pastor Emeritus, church officials said.
Ahearn's immediate successor at St. Juliana, the Rev. Phillip Dressler, died last May at the age of 80.
Nicknamed "Nubs," he was born on the West Side, the youngest of five children, and attended Quigley High School and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary.
During Ahearn's long career, he also served as chaplain of St. Patrick High School, 5900 W. Belmont Ave.; as a member of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Review Board and School Board Advisory Committee; and as Assistant Vicar for Senior Priests.
The priest was "a gentleman who I never heard complain about anything and who I never heard say a bad word about anyone," according to the Rev. Stephen Kanonik, moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of Chicago.
"He was an ‘old Irish politician’ in the very best sense of that term and he was a blessing in so many people's lives," Kanonik continued. "I, and so very many others, feel lucky to have known him and will deeply miss him.”
In a note to parishioners posted on the St. Juliana web site, the Rev. James Wallace, the current pastor wrote, "A man who loves, lives. And a man who loves a lot, lives a lot."
"Fr. Ahearn lived a good, long life (age 91) because he was a tremendously loving man. He was loved by so many people and it was your love, brothers and sisters, that allowed Fr. Ahearn to love as long — and as well — as he did," Wallace wrote.
Ahearn will lie in state at St. Juliana from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Juliana Friday, church officials said. Visitation will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, leading up to an 11 a.m. funeral mass, in which Cardinal Blase Cupich will be the main celebrant.
Ahearn is survived by a nephew and niece.
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