Br. John (Paddy) Leonard, M.Afr


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a) Tributes and Memories

b) Tribute from Fr Gerry Murphy, Irish Provincial

Tributes and memories

May 28th 2003 at 05:08:55 AM
NAME :  Eugene MacBride
From: "Missionaries of Africa \(Irl\)"
Date: Wed May 28, 2003 09:06:43 AM Etc/GMT

Subject: Br. Paddy RIP

Dear Eugene and members of the Pelicans

It is with the mixed emotions of a great sense of loss but also of
thanksgiving that I bring you the news that Br. Paddy died this morning.
As you know, Paddy was is remission after an operation to remove a malignant
cancer in the colon early last year. At the beginning of February this year
Paddy began to loose the power of his left arm and leg. Initially we thought
that he had suffered a couple of minor strokes. However, a brain scan showed
that the cancer had travelled to his brain. We cared for him in Cypress
Grove until the middle of March when he was admitted to Our Lady's Hospice
in Harold's Cross.

Paddy was comfortable and happy in Our Lady's and could not speak highly
enough of the dedicated care he was receiving. But, at the same time, he
also spoke of how he was looking forward to the day he would be discharged.
There were mite boxes to be collected and Brendan O'Shea's ordination to
attend. He was tenacious to the end.

Last Saturday evening [24th May] his visitors noticed that he seemed to be
very tired. On Sunday the staff of Our Lady's informed us that his health
was deteriorating. He was sleeping a lot and when he spoke his voice was
weak. Last night when we were with him it was clear that he was living his
last hours on earth. He gave up his spirit quietly and peacefully this
morning at 6.50am.

For manys a long day, many's the story that will be told about Paddy. At the
heart of them all will be gratitude for having known him and been enriched
by his presence.

No funeral arrangements have been made yet but I will inform you when they

(Fr.) Gerry (Murphy)

May 28th 2003 at 12:14:42 PM
NAME :  Fr Gerry Murphy (WF's Irish Provincial)
From: "Missionaries of Africa
Date: Wed May 28, 2003 01:39:13 PM Etc/GMT

Subject: Br. Paddy - Funeral Arrangements

Dear Eugene
Please find below the funeral arrangements for Br. Paddy. I would be grateful if, as before, you would forward this e-mail to all Pelican in your address book

Thursday 29th May:
7.00pm: Ceremony of Reception at Cypress Grove.
Friday 30th May:
5.15pm: Departure from Cypress Grove
5.30pm: Reception at St. Pius X Church, Templeogue
Saturday 31st May:
10.00am: Funeral Mass and burial afterwards in M.Afr. plot in Bohernabreena cemetary.

Gerry Murphy

Dear Gerry

Many thanks for the sad message of Bro Paddy's death. May he rest in peace. He will be sorely missed .Paddy is someone who is just part of the fabric of the Irish and indeed British Province and as you say we all have a story about him; whether at the Priory, Blacklion, Longford or Templeogue. I always found him most welcoming when on leave from the missions and he always showed a great interest in our work in Africa. He never gave up, he enjoyed life, loved his confreres and could be as stubborn as a mule.
(Fr.)Ciaran Mc Guinness
Sincere condolences to you and your community. Paddy was one of the giants from our youth and is remembered with great affection and respect.
Kind regards,
Paul West
Dear Gerry
Through about 6 e-mails we heard of the death of Brother Paddy. Our sympathies! He has built quite a name for himself. Because even the people who never met him, are likely to say; "yes, but I heard of his

May he rest in peace.

(Fr.) Piet de Bekker
I am sure Paddy has earned his just reward!!! Can only hope that Paddy is there to plead my case when I am questioned at the Pearly gates!
Lots of love and best wishes.
Derek Biewer
Dear Fr. Ian,
We are deeply sorry to hear that Bro. Paddy went to God and we are sure that he would get a great welcome. We trust that he will pray for us all in our apostolic undertakings on behalf of God's people.

We have only one regret - that we were not able to talk to him and say goodbye. But we remember him in our prayers and at Holy Mass.

God bless you all.

Kevin O’Mahoney, all the Missionaries of Africa in Ethiopia, Abba Tesfaselassie (Bishop of Adigrat), Abba Teum (Diocese of Adigrat), Abune Abraham Desta (Bishop of Meki), and all those who had the privilege of knowing Brother Paddy.
Dear Fr. Gerry,

I have just heard the sad news of Bro. Paddy's death through an email message from Abune Tesfaselassie. I still have happy memories of Bro. Paddy from my study days in Tempelogue. Paddy was a dedicated very generous hearted man who always worked very hard for the missions. You have lost a great confrere but I am sure he will join the saints in heaven and pray for all of us.

Now I send my condolences to you and his family. May God rest him in peace.

With kindest regards,

+ Abba Abraham Desta

Br. Paddy prized his piece of bog oak. He didn't realise that he was exactly that plus a loving heart and a total respect for his fellow man and his God.
Michael Creechan
Dear Gerry,

I am just back from wandering around Zambia. Thanks for the news about Br. Paddy's death, sad as it is. He was an 'institution' in his own right and will be missed.
(Fr.) Sean O’Leary
Dear Gerry,

Yes is it already a few days ago that Brother Paddy left us. He dedicated his whole life for the peoples of Africa. He neither counted his time nor the years but just gave his life to the missions in Africa. He never really worked in Africa but knew Africa better than most of us. He lived his vocation as a calling to serve where ever he was able to or needed. He was a faithful servant of the Lord. My sympathies to you and to his family.
(Fr.) Albert Thevenot
General Council
Dear Eugene,

Thanks for letting us know of Paddy's death.

Even though it was expected, it still came as something of a shock. I had known him since I was 12 years old, and never imagined him as old or ill. He was always the Bro Paddy I knew as a boy. A devoted brother of the Society, a holy man, a courteous man, and a model for us all. Surely, if anyone is destined for Heaven it is him.

I haven't written to Gerry Murphy, as he will probably be inundated with letters of sympathy from around the world. Perhaps in the fullness of time you could send him a note on behalf of us all saying how much the individual Pelicans have reacted to the loss of Paddy, and how we are all praying for him. He must have a huge family of WFs, former students, and benefactors
offering up prayers for him at this very moment. Oh, that we should all be so fortunate !
Peter Finn
It is with deep sadness that I have learned, through The Pelican’s, of Br. Paddy’s passing...

As a young student in Blacklion he was an inspiration, an individual who met the needs of the day with what ever resources he had. He was a noble example to all who crossed paths with him... He was a man of humility (Well!!!), dedication, and spirituality who was indeed an inspiration to those of us who encountered him. Although I have chosen a path in life other than the White Fathers, I have to say that my life has been fashioned by some of the great people that I have met on that path. Br Paddy was one of them. Don’t get me wrong - I hated potato picking. Br. Paddy was an extraordinary individual who did ordinary things to support extraordinary accomplishments.
Anthony Tucker (Vancouver)

I was sorry to hear about Brother Paddy. Like anyone who met him, I have a multitude of memories. One of them was coming across him one day behind the cowshed. He was digging into the earth at various spots with a pitchfork, so I asked him what he was doing. He replied that he was looking for a piece of machinery he had buried. "Never throw anything away. You never know when you might need it. First you leave it lying around for five years and, if you don't need it during that time, you bury it. Then when you need it you can dig it up. The trick is remembering where you buried it."

Tom Mackle
Bro Paddy's death is very sad, made especially so that he had such expectations of being discharged. Like many others, I have some very strong memories involving him, at the Priory and at St. Augustine's – he, and Hannibal, and a shotgun for shooting down the local rat population. Every time I get a 'ringing' in my ears, I bless him for the time he took a pot-shot on the 'farm' at
Blacklion, while I was within arms length!

He has been well and truly discharged from here, but no doubt starting another kind of Novitiate elsewhere - or telling St P. the gates need some 3 in 1 - and not the Trinity!
Tommy Kelly
Dear Eugene and Pelicans,

From around the world people I am sure people are reacting to the news of Brother Paddy's death. Here in Singapore, it has come neither as a surprise nor as a shock but as a great sadness that a kind, gentle and inspirational man such as he has left us. My earliest memories of him are as a boy cycling to the Priory (5 miles away) to spend time with Brother Paddy on the farm. He certainly inspired me to join the Society and engendered a love of farming. (Sold my last cow a few months before the foot and mouth epidemic).

Please add my sincere condolences to those of others who knew him better than I in his later life.
WJ Nimmo-Scott OBE
350 Orchard Road
Singapore 0065 6725 9852
Dear Eugene,

Just to say that I did get to Paddy's funeral and that the sun shone and the great man was laid to rest with proper honours and almost palpable affection from the people who were there (and who, I know, were only a tiny fraction of those who still remember him kindly). I somehow missed speaking to or even catching sight of Robbie Dempsey, but at least there were two Pelicans there to represent the rest of the brood.
Kindest regards,
Bill (or Billy, whichever) Hart
Jun 6th 2003 at 06:43:40 AM
NAME :  Jim Connelly
Dear Colleagues

Sad to read about Bro Paddy's demise.
It was Autumn 1959, I had just completed my studies at Osterley and he was the first White Father to greet me on arrival at Blacklion gently whispering to me that his title was "Brother" not "Father".

We joined him in celebrating his Silver Jubilee in 1961 the highlight of which was a celebration dinner with all the turkey trimmings but, unbeknown to Bro Paddy (at the time)we appeared to have mistakenly slaughtered his prize male turkey (can't use the proper gender term as guestbook considers it profane). For a short while afterwards the subject of "egg yield " was kept at low key.

May he rest in peace.
May 29th 2003 at 08:27:58 PM
NAME :  Mike Mearns
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Well he's gone! But who can forget that strong, nasal voice calling the Priory milk herd with " Giiiiiiiip, gip, gip, gip, gip, giip". God rest your soul, Brother Paddy.

I have two memories. One is being dragooned by Paddy along with Dave Airlie to go to Galleydown just before Christmas 1957 to get the tree. " C'mon Boys" he said and off we went, Paddy driving the Ferguson and the two of us perched on the mudguards. After a bit of searching we found "the one", yanked it out of the soil and returned triumphant to the Priory with Dave and I holding the branches off Paddy so he could steer a true course.

Another tractor story! Working on the farm, one of the hydraulic hoses split and the fluid jetted out. Undeterred, Paddy grabbed a can, charged through the oily shower, saved most of it and gave us a toothy, white grin, lighting up his blackened face in triumph.
Jun 3rd 2003 at 01:25:02 PM
NAME :  Bernard Melling
Just to express my sorrow at the passing of Bro. Paddy: a giant of a man in more ways than one! I was with him both at The Priory and Blacklion and frequently worked beside him on the farm, with Hannibal, the donkey with deformed hooves! May he rest in peace. Amen.
Dear Eugene,

Thanks for the news. One can hardly call it sad news since Paddy lived such a wonderful life. I have many fond memories of him at The Priory, Blacklion and finally Bishops' Waltham in 1998.
May he rest in peace

Dr Andrew Coyle CMG
King's College
University of London
75 York Road
London SE1 7AW
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7401 2559
Fax: +44 (0)20 7401 2577

Dear Gerry

Thank you for the sad news about Paddy. I got it from Tommy (Price) earlier and sent it out to as many Pelicans as I have in the address book. It's like the death of a parent. It's a chunk out of your life.

Dessie Fitzmaurice tells the story from June 1950 of Paddy digging Brother Aubert's grave at the Priory. Fitzmaurice was a tough little geezer. "Can I help you, Brother?" Paddy turned to face him and the tears were streaming down his cheeks.
Once at the Priory I asked him: "Brother, what is a libertine?" Paddy (most solemn voice): "A very evil man."

He was back to the Priory for Whitsun 1998 and was one of the dignitaries on the sanctuary. He told me that day: "I am blessed with a robust constitution."

Do you remember he fell off his stool and cut his head at Templeogue in 1992? John Morton had just finished a story "...and that was when I was told the White Fathers didn't want me." Tom Bradley: "Cripes, I wish somebody had told me---". Paddy nearly choked and went over backwards on his stool.

May he rest in peace


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Br. John Leonard RIP
A tribute from Fr Gerry Murphy MAfr, The Irish Provincial

On Wednesday 28th May 2003 Br. John Leonard, better known as Br. Paddy, let slip the last ties binding him to this world. As he had lived his life, so he left this life – quietly, unobtrusively, not wishing to be a bother to anyone, grateful for each and every small deed done for him.

Br. Paddy was born in Newbridge, Co. Kildare, on 27th January 1915 but his family later settled in Tallanstown, Co. Louth. He was one of 7 children born to Patrick and Deborah Leonard. Br. Paddy received his primary education at Mullaharlin National School in Co. Louth and his secondary school education at the junior seminary of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) at the Priory in Bishops Waltham, England.

Accepted into the formation programme of the Missionaries of Africa in 1932, Br. Paddy made his Spiritual Year in Algiers and then, in 1934 returned to Bishops Waltham as a young brother and a member of staff. For many years he worked on the farm that was attached to the seminary with the well known Br. Aubert. A strong rapport developed between the young Br. Paddy and the seasoned Br. Aubert, so much so that when Br. Aubert died a seminarian at Bishops Waltham remembers seeing tears in Br. Paddy’s eyes as he dug Br. Aubert’s grave.

Br. Paddy spent many happy years at the Priory. During his tenure there, as the farm manager, the farm grew in size and many technical changes took place. Thanks to the generosity and support of neighbours, the acreage of the farm increased in size and, in the course of time, the seminary’s faithful Clydesdale horse was replaced by a Fordson tractor. Br. Paddy was always at the forefront of change and thanks to him and his skills as a mechanic many modern means of farming were introduced at The Priory.

Every dream comes to an end. In 1956 Br. Paddy learned that he was appointed to Ireland to take charge of the farm that was attached to our new house of philosophy in Blacklion, Co. Cavan. It was a tough wrench for Br. Paddy to leave The Priory; he had spent 22 years of his life there. But he accepted the change and soon became a well known member of the farming community in the Blacklion area. A farmer at heart, he subscribed to the age old tradition that farmers, regardless of background, always stood by one-another especially in times of need. This stance evoked a backlash from some members of the local Catholic community who felt that he was becoming too ‘friendly’ with his Protestant neighbours. Br. Paddy was hurt by this reaction but stuck to his guns – when it's time to take in the hay, it's all hands on board!

One of the great regrets of Br. Paddy’s life was that he never received an appointment to Africa. The closure of Blacklion in 1972, however, gave him the opportunity of making an extended tour of East Africa. Br. Paddy enjoyed his visit to Africa tremendously and years later he could still regale you with stories of the places he had visited and the people he had met.

On his return to Ireland Br. Paddy spent a short time on promotion work in Longford and was then appointed bursar of our house in Templeogue. He brought his many talents to bear on his work and succeeded in running and maintaining the house on a shoe-string budget. A frugal person by upbringing, he abhorred waste.

In 1992 Br. Paddy handed over responsibility for the running of Templeogue and took to the road. Travelling the length and breadth of the country he collected mite boxes and met benefactors. He enjoyed this work tremendously and was always touched by peoples’ generosity.

Towards the end of 2001 it was clear that Br. Paddy was not well. He had no energy and was losing weight. He was admitted to St. James’ Hospital for tests and then underwent an operation for the removal of a malignant tumour in the colon. Despite his advanced years he made a slow but good recovery from the operation and within the space of a few months he was back on the road collecting mite boxes. All efforts at trying to persuade him to slow down – whether it was work or driving - fell on deaf ears. He once admitted, with a twinkle in his eyes, that he had been caught speeding twice in the same year!

Br. Paddy’s remission from cancer lasted just one year. He began to lose the power in his left side and tests revealed that the cancer had travelled to his brain. He was admitted to Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross and was extremely grateful for the kindness and care of the staff. Towards the end of May his health declined and early on the morning of the 28th, just as the sun was rising, Br. Paddy rose to new life.

Br. Paddy touched many peoples’ lives and each one holds, as a treasure, their memory of him. He was a gentle giant with a kind and generous heart. He was missionary to the end. He often said that God had brought him into this world to work and there would be plenty of time to rest when he was dead. He now rests in peace in the Missionaries of Africa grave in Bohernabreena at the foot of the Dublin hills.

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