Monsignor Desmond Roberto Keenan, 91, dies in Wake Forest

Monsignor Desmond Roberto Keenan, a retired priest of the Diocese of Raleigh, died at his home in Wake Forest on Thursday, Jan. 25.

He was born Jan. 29, 1926, in Bangor County Down, Ireland, to Robert Edward Keenan and Margaret (Quinn) Keenan.

He attended St. Joseph Seminary College in Saint Benedict, Louisiana; Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana; and St. Mary University in Baltimore, Maryland.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Vincent S. Waters at St. Patrick Church in Charlotte on May 26, 1949. (At that time, there was one diocese, the Diocese of Raleigh, in the state of North Carolina.)

His first priestly assignment was at Sacred Heart Church in Whiteville. Monsignor Keenan served in ministry throughout the Diocese of Raleigh and served in Mexico as a missionary. While in Mexico, he helped to establish numerous parishes. He returned to the diocese in 1995 and served as vicar for Hispanics before his 2001 retirement from active priestly ministry. 

In a 2014 NC Catholics magazine article about his 65th ordination anniversary, Monsignor Keenan, or “Padre Roberto” as he was known to many, said: “I’ve found wherever I’ve ministered that if you sincerely love people, they will respond. [My calling] was a calling to help people do the most important thing in life—to save their souls.”

Editor’s note: Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama has requested prayers for the repose of the soul of Monsignor Keenan.

- Kate Turgeon Watson, editor, NC Catholics

Funeral Arrangements

Reception of the Body and Vigil for the Deceased

Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, 7 p.m.

Monsignor David D. Brockman, V.G., Presiding

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh


Following the Vigil for the Deceased

Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018 until 9 p.m.

All Saints Chapel and the Narthex

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh

Funeral Mass and Interment

Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 at 11 a.m.

Most Rev. Luis R. Zarama, Principal Celebrant and Rev. Fernando Torres, Homilist

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh


Interment following the Funeral Mass will take place at Iglesia del Spiritu Santo in Ojo de Agua, Edo. de Mexico.  


Mass cards and condolences may be sent to:

Mr. Kevin Keenan
c/o Diocese of Raleigh
7200 Stonehenge Drive
Raleigh, NC  27613