Leonard A. Kelly, OFM
1914 – 2002
Fr. Leonard Kelly, OFM, was born in Pittston, Pa., Oct. 5, 1914. He graduated from Pittston High School in 1932 before attending St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., from 1934 to 1937.
He was received into the Order at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., on Aug. 12, 1937, and professed temporary vows there a year later. He did his philosophical studies at St. Stephen’s Friary, Croghan, N.Y., and St. Anthony’s Friary, Butler, N.J., and theology at Holy Name College, Washington, D.C., where he also professed solemn vows Sept. 17, 1941. He was ordained a priest on May 29, 1943, in the crypt of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Fr. Leonard’s priestly ministry began in 1944 with a year teaching mathematics at Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y., then two years on loan to the Franciscans of the Slavo-Byzantine Rite as a teacher at the Ukranian Catholic Seminary in Stamford, Conn., while residing at St. Francis Friary in New York City. He then took up residence at the Byzantine friary of Our Lady Help of Christians in New Canaan, Conn., initially as assistant in the parish, then guardian from 1951 to 1953.
From 1953 to 1957, Fr. Leonard served at St. Joseph’s Seminary, teaching and pastoring the Cochecton mission. The following year he served at Bishop Timon High School, Buffalo, N.Y., before becoming superior of Immaculate Conception shrine church in Atlanta, Ga. In 1964, he was assigned for two years to St. Francis Chapel, Providence, R.I.
His final active assignment was assistant at Our Lady of the Holy Angels Parish, Little Falls, N.J., from 1966 to 1982. In 1982 he retired to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, where he remained until being transferred to the Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., in September 1998. There he spent his final years, becoming “much loved by the staff,” said Fr. A. Francis Soucy, OFM, the guardian.
A quiet, cool, reserved person who passed through life with an observant eye, Fr. Leonard was a clean-cut, trim, tidy figure who kept very fit through the years. He golfed, skied, became computer literate, and on his 75th birthday skydived from 10,000 feet while belted to a qualified companion. He also founded a popular ski club while stationed in Little Falls.
Fr. Leonard died May 19, 2002, at Holy Name Friary. He was 87 years old, a professed Franciscan for 63 years and a priest for 58.