Leo Ferrary, OFM
1894 – 1944
Fr. Leo Ferrary, OFM, was born at Leifers in the Austrian Tyrol on July 18, 1894. In 1902, the family moved to Paterson, N.J., where Fr. Leo attended St. Bonaventure Grammar School. He attended St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., and entered the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1914, professing temporary vows one year later. He made his solemn profession in 1918 and was ordained in 1921.
His first two years of ministry were spent at St. Bonaventure Seminary, Allegany, N.Y., as prefect. When volunteers for the newly opened mission in China were needed, Fr. Leo responded, and sailed for China with Fr. Basil Harkins, OFM, in 1923.
For 21 danger-filled years, Fr. Leo labored in China. He began his mission work in Wuchang.In 1932, the Holy See entrusted the mission of Shasi to Holy Name Province, and Fr. Leo was appointed the first superior regular. He built a high school for girls, opened three grammar schools and began the construction of a Catholic hospital. He studied dentistry in Shanghai to help the poor. In 1940, Fr. Leo went to Chungking as the personal representative of the apostolic delegate to China. He also served as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Chungking.
Fr. Leo was a friar with indomitable courage, unbounded zeal, absolute fearlessness, and a great sense of humor and a zest for life. He died on Dec. 13, 1944 in the Charity Hospital in Chungking, and is buried beside the seminary on a mountain overlooking the Yangtse River. Fr. Leo was 50 years old, a professed friar for 29 years and a priest for 23 years.