Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Alumni Obituaries

Msgr. Stephen Churchwell

CHURCHWELL, Msgr. Stephen Msgr. Stephen Churchwell, pastor and canonist, dies. Msgr. Stephen T. Churchwell, JCD, a longtime priest and canon lawyer for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, died May 31. He was 68. Born in Carmi, Illinois, on Oct. 4, 1949, he was the son of George and the late Juanita Wilson Churchwell. The oldest of five children, he converted to Catholicism at the age of 17, entering the seminary right out of high school. He attended Saint Meinrad College in Indiana from 1967-71, earning a degree in liberal arts, followed by a postgraduate degree in theology in 1976. He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, on May 1, 1976. His first assignments were as a parochial vicar at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Decatur, and Sacred Heart Church, Atlanta. He served as parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta, for one year before beginning graduate studies in canon law from 1979-82 at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Returning to Atlanta, he served as a parochial vicar at St. Andrew Church, Roswell, from 1982-84. Affiliated with the Metropolitan Tribunal from 1978-2000, Msgr. Churchwell's positions included vice officialis (assistant chief judge) from 1982-88 and officialis (chief judge) from 1988-91. In 1984, he began serving as a parochial vicar at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Atlanta, until he was named pastor in 1994. In December 2000, he was appointed a judge in the provincial Court of Appeals. He celebrated his silver jubilee in May 2001, and later that month he was invested as monsignor by Archbishop John F. Donoghue, with the rank of prelate of honor. Msgr. Churchwell is survived by his father, George, and his siblings and their spouses, Douglas R. and Sharon Churchwell, Bradley K. and Carrie Churchwell, George T. and Melissa Churchwell Jr. and Kimberly A. and Keith McCarty, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.