Leo Brown, OFM
1920 – 1982
Fr. Leo Brown, OFM, was born in Paterson, N.J., on May 19, 1920. He graduated from St. Bonaventure Grammar School and entered St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y.
In 1942, he was received into the Province’s novitiate at St. Bonaventure in Paterson and professed his temporary vows there the following year. Fr. Leo made his solemn profession of vows in 1946 and was ordained a priest in 1948.
Fr. Leo had a strong desire to go to China as a missionary, following the footsteps of his uncle, Fr. Leo Ferrary, OFM, one of Holy Name Province’s first missionaries to go to China. His first assignment, however, was to Bishop Timon High School in Buffalo, N.Y., where he taught for seven years. After one year at Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y., Fr. Leo went to the southern missions of the Province. He lived in Emporia, Va., and cared for St. Bernard’s Church in Lawrenceville, Va.
In 1962, Fr. Leo returned north to minister at St. Francis Chapel in Providence, R.I., for two years, and then to Croghan, N.Y., where he cared for the missions in New Bremen and Castorland.
In 1969, Fr. Leo’s physical difficulties began, which led to a leg amputation. Undaunted by his handicap, he accepted the chaplaincy to the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn at St. Anthony High School in Smithtown, N.Y. After two years, he became pastor of St. Paschal’s Church in South Boston, Va. When the parish was turned over to the Richmond Diocese, Fr. Leo moved to Orlando, Fla. At Holy Family Parish there, he ministered to the many tourists in the area of Disney World.
The various setbacks Fr. Leo experienced never depressed him nor stopped his boundless energies. Each time a change was demanded, he simply accepted the new situation and adapted to it. He used his talents and energies well for the people whom he served.
He died of a heart attack on Sept. 5, 1982, while driving along the Lake Buena Vista Drive on his way to celebrate the Eucharist. Fr. Leo was 62 years old, a professed friar for 39 years and a priest for 34 years.