As I journey through a week busy with funerals, I learn that Fr. Leo Clifford died this morning. I hesitate to post on him, as I hardly knew him, but since I've been grateful to God for him at certain, particular moments in my own vocation, I thought I would.
Fr. Leo was assigned to St. Stephen of Hungary on East 82nd St. in Manhattan when I was sent to work there in my first postulancy. I was twenty-two years old, hardly two years a Catholic, and much more innocent than I knew. It wasn't an easy assignment. In all of my stress and the clash between what I had expected in religious life and what I found, I became grateful for Fr. Leo, who always had a kind word of gentle encouragement for me.
Ten years later, having been out of religious life and then back in again, I found myself as a student for priesthood here in Boston. Fr. Leo was one of the regular confessors at St. Anthony Shrine, where I would often go for confession. It was common among the brothers to remark on Fr. Leo's particular way with penitents in the confessional, and we all appreciated him.
In between these times, I was often reminded of Fr. Leo when his "Reflections" would be shown on EWTN.
One of his lines to penitents was something like, 'Your only sin is forgetting how madly in love Jesus is with you.'
May that same Jesus welcome you to the heavenly liturgy, Father, where you may celebrate his love for eternity. Amen.
Requiescat in pace.
UPDATE: The OFM has posted funeral information here.