Obituaries : T.A. Donnellan; Head of Atlanta Archdiocese

From Times Wire Services

Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, who led one of the fastest growing Roman Catholic archdioceses in America for 19 years, has died after a stroke he suffered last May.

He was 73 and died Thursday at a hospital here.

Donnellan served for 19 years as archbishop of the Atlanta archdiocese, which includes all Catholic parishes in north Georgia and those as far south as Savannah. He was the second bishop to head the Atlanta archdiocese, succeeding the late Archbishop Paul Hallinan in 1968.

Booming Archdiocese

During Donnellan’s tenure, the Catholic population of the archdiocese grew from about 50,000 to about 132,000 as families transferred from other parts of the country into the Sun Belt. The number of Catholic parishes rose from 34 to 65.


Donnellan was ordained a priest in 1939 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. He served as secretary to the late Francis Cardinal Spellman in the Archdiocese of New York from 1954 to 1958 and was chancellor of the archdiocese from 1958 to 1962.

While Pope John Paul II was on his recent visit to the United States, the pontiff telephoned Donnellan from Columbia, S.C. After the call, the ailing prelate told friends that the pope had given him his apostolic blessing.