Archbishop's Appeal

The Archbishop’s Appeal is the annual fundraising campaign that provides supplemental financial assistance to institutions, programs and ministries affiliated with the Catholic Church throughout the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Learn More Make A Donation
  • 5,000,000
  • 4,000,000
  • 3,000,000
  • 2,000,000
  • 1,000,000


​Msgr. Leo M. Dolan, longtime pastor of St. Helena Church in San Antonio, dies Oct. 23

October 24, 2016 | posted by Archdiocese of San Antonio

Topics: Breaking News

Msgr. Leo M. Dolan, longtime pastor of St. Helena Church in San Antonio, dies Oct. 23

Msgr. Leo M. Dolan, 79, longtime pastor of St. Helena Church in San Antonio, died Oct. 23 following a lengthy illness.

He was born on April 6, 1937, in Northern Ireland, the youngest of three sons born to Edward and Beatrice Dolan.

Msgr. Dolan was ordained at St. Patrick’s Church in Carlow, Ireland, on June 11, 1960.

When the late Archbishop Robert E. Lucey visited seminaries in Ireland in the 1950s, he invited the men who were studying there to serve in the Archdiocese of San Antonio following their ordinations.

At St. Patrick’s College in Carlow, young Leo Dolan listened intently. “I always intended to come here,” said Msgr. Leo in a 2005 interview with Today’s Catholic newspaper.

However, it wasn’t exciting stories of cowboys and Indians that drew his interest. “It was the caves,” he said. “I would read about them in National Geographic. Once I even sent for a book about the caves near San Antonio.”

Msgr. Dolan’s first assignment in San Antonio was as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Church from 1960 to 1963. One of the young men who was at times an altar server for Msgr. Dolan was Father David Garcia, now director of the Old Spanish Missions. “I remember that Father Dolan was very friendly and interested in the servers,” said Father Garcia in 2005. “He was interested in all the students in the school. I’m sure that interest, and the interest of the other priests, encouraged my vocation.”

He then served as associate pastor of St. Michael’s Church downtown from 1963-1964, at St. Andrew’s Church in Pleasanton from 1964-1967, and St. Margaret Mary Church and St. Catherine of Alexandria Mission from 1967 to 1976.

From 1976 to 1980, Msgr. Dolan served as pastor of Holy Name Church in San Antonio, with duties as temporary chaplain for children and adults at Santa Rosa Hospital.

Following that assignment, he Dolan served as associate pastor of St. Benedict Church from 1980 to 1987. In addition to his parish duties, Msgr. Dolan earned a master’s degree in education from Our Lady of the Lake University, was a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus, and a Knight Commander in the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

On July 1, 1987, Msgr. Dolan began his pastorate at St. Helena Church, where he would serve until his retirement on July 1, 2013.

Ground was broken on March 6, 1994, for eight projects at the parish. Most important would be the new road, giving parishioners access to Nacogdoches Road. In addition to the road, there were four new classrooms, storage buildings for parish organizations, an athletic facility to include a baseball diamond, soccer field, concession stand, and bleachers. Other projects included repairs on the roof of the Activity Center (which was renamed the Dolan Center), modifications of the church to accommodate the handicapped, improvement of the parking lot, and lighting of the parish property.

Later accomplishments included the organ installation in 1997 and the landmark Jubilee Cross in 2000.

Msgr. Dolan was named a prelate of honor of His Holiness Pope John Paul II on Nov. 22, 1998.

In a section titled “Golden Thoughts” in a booklet produced for his 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood in 2010, Msgr. Dolan wrote, “Fifty years ago I expressed my gratitude and thanks to me family and all those who helped me to become a priest. Fifty years later, I repeat with even greater gratitude those same sentiments. Furthermore, I express thanks to all those, some known to God alone, who have sustained me in priesthood over the years.”

He continued, “The many whom God has committed to my charge and company over the years, are my hope and consolation; and my prayer is that some day we will meet again and mutually rejoice in the beatific vision.”

Rosary and visitation for Msgr. Dolan will be held Thursday, Oct. 27, with visitation beginning at 5 p.m., with the rosary at 7 p.m., at St. Helena Church, 14714 Edgemont. Funeral Mass will be held there the following day, Friday, Oct. 28, at 9:30 a.m., with Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, presiding.

Interment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery.