Reverend Leo J. McKernan of West Wyoming, died on Jan. 23, 2022, at Sacred Heart Hospice, Dunmore, having faithfully served as priest and spiritual director in the Diocese of Scranton for many years.
Father McKernan, son of the late John McKernan and Marjorie Franchi McKernan, was born in Wilkes Barre on September 17, 1953. He was a graduate of St. Leo School and Hanover Memorial High School and attended King’s College earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975. Father attended Villanova University earning a Master’s degree in 1977. He received his seminary education at St. Pius X Seminary, Dalton; Pontifical North American College, Rome, Italy; and Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome, Italy (Angelicum) earning both a Bachelor and Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 1983. Father McKernan was ordained to the priesthood in St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, on November 5, 1983 by the Most Reverend John O’Connor, late Bishop of Scranton.
Father McKernan was appointed Assistant Pastor at St. Mary’s, Wilkes-Barre, in 1983 and Director of Religious Formation at Bishop O’Reilly High School, Kingston, in September 1985. In June 1986, he was appointed Assistant Pastor at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton, and in September 1987 was appointed to serve on the faculty at St. Pius X Seminary in Dalton.
Father attended Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska earning a Master’s in Christian Spirituality in 1990.
Father McKernan received his first pastorate in June 1992 at Holy Name of Mary, Montrose. In April 1996, Father was appointed Administrator pro tem at Ascension, Williamsport, and in July 1996, was appointed Pastor at St. Mary, Avoca. Father was appointed Assistant Pastor at Our Lady of the Snows, Clarks Summit, in July 1998, and Assistant Pastor at Holy Name and St. Mary’s, Swoyersville in August 1998.
Father accepted an appointment as Chaplain at Gonzaga University and Bishop White Seminary, Spokane, Washington, in July 2000. Upon his return to the Diocese of Scranton in July 2001, Father was appointed Pastor at Christ the King, Dunmore. While remaining Pastor at Christ the King, he was also appointed Pastor at Immaculate Conception, Scranton in July 2002. Father was next appointed Administrator at Our Lady of Lourdes, Montoursville, in August 2002 and was appointed Pastor in July 2006. He served as Pastor at St. Elizabeth, Bear Creek, from 2007 to 2008 and Diocesan Preacher for called to Holiness and Mission from 2008 to 2009. He was assigned to a six month ministry at St. Joseph Hermitage, Laceyville, from December 2009 to July 2010 when he was appointed Pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows, West Wyoming and St. Joseph, Wyoming, which became St. Monica’s, West Wyoming.
In January 2017, Father McKernan was appointed Senior Priest at St. John the Evangelist, Pittston. In June, he was appointed Pastor at St. Ignatius Loyola, Kingston.
Father retired for reasons of health in November 2018.
Father McKernan also served the Diocese teaching at various Catholic High Schools and Colleges, Religious Education Institute and Veteran Teachers Program. He served as Director of the Diocesan Commission on Ecumenism and Inter-Faith Affairs; Spiritual Director at St. Pius X Seminary and Bishop White Seminary; Chaplain for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and for the People of God Community and the Neo Catechumenal Way. He served as Chaplain and Program Director for JMJ Catholic Radio Station and Chaplain for Catholic Men’s Conference.
Father McKernan is survived by three sisters; Kathleen (Harry) Miller of Sarasota, Florida, Alice (Reg) Jones of Lido, NY and Mary (Vinny) Appello of Media, PA. He is also survived by two brothers; Mark McKernan of Grove City, Ohio and Michael McKernan of Kingston, PA, and nieces and nephews. .
Viewing will take place at St. Leo Church, Ashley on Friday, January 28, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Saturday, January 29, 2022 9:30 a.m. A Vesper Service will be celebrated at 6:00 p.m. at St. Leo Church, Ashley.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by the Reverend Gerald W. Shantillo, V.G., S.T.L., Vicar General of the Diocese of Scranton, on Saturday, January 29, 2022 at St. Leo Church, Ashley at 10:30 a.m. Interment will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Wilkes-Barre.