RINGWOOD, N.J. — Last week, a Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for Leo Clifford, OFM. The 89-year-old friar died Feb. 16 at Holy Name Friary. He was a professed Franciscan for 69 years and a priest for 65.
At Leo’s request, there was no visitation. Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, celebrated the Feb. 20 liturgy at St. Anthony Church in Butler, N.J. Burial followed at God’s Acre Cemetery in Ringwood.
Leo was born March 21, 1922, in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland, to John and Catherine Clifford. He was baptized Diarmuid Brendan Clifford. In 1939, he graduated from St. Brendan’s College in Killarney. Diarmuid then studied for two years at St. John’s Seminary, Waterford.
In 1941, he entered the Order of Friars Minor at the Franciscan Friary in Killarney, receiving the name Leo. He professed his first vows there in 1942. Leo then studied philosophy at University College, Galway, and theology at St. Anthony’s College, Newcastle, Galway. In 1945, he professed final vows and was ordained a priest the following year.
Following his ordination, Leo served in Dublin and Limerick, Ireland, and in Manchester, England. During these seven years, he developed an extensive preaching ministry and was engaged in radio work, under Fr. Agnellus Andrew, OFM, a pioneer in Catholic communications.
In 1954, Leo was given permission to come to the United States to continue this ministry, and for the next 50 years devoted himself to preaching, especially through retreats for religious, parish missions, and days of recollection. While engaged in the preaching ministry, he was stationed at three Province friaries. Leo spent his first year at St. Francis of Assisi Friary in New York City. In 1955, he moved to St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J. From 1967 to 2003, he lived at St. Stephen of Hungary Friary in New York.
In 1993, Leo formally transferred from the Franciscan Province of Ireland to Holy Name Province.
Videos of his talks have been featured for many years on EWTN television network.
In 2003, Leo retired to St. Anthony Residence in Boston and in July 2010 moved to St. Anthony Friary in Butler. Due to health reasons, he was transferred in November 2010 to Holy Name Friary, the Province’s long-term healthcare facility.
Leo is survived by his nieces Mrs. Maire Baily and Mrs. Caitriona Lyne and nephew Hon. Judge Leo J. Malone, all residing in County Kerry. Condolences may be sent to: Mrs. Caitriona Lyne, Bunrour Ross Road, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland.
Memorial contributions may be made to: The Franciscans — St. Anthony’s Guild, 144 W. 32nd St., New York, NY 10001.
— Compiled by Theresa Bartha and Dominic Monti, OFM