February 16, 2012

RIP: Fr. Leo Clifford, OFM

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.

34 comments:

noreen said...

Hi Brother Charles,

I didn't know that Fr. Leo Clifford had died this morning. I just saw a taped Reflections segment on EWTN about an hour ago. I do so loved his words of wisdom. He had a unique way to talking to his audience that made me want to listen and learn. Thank you for letting us know.

dylan said...

I remember Fr Leo from Arch Street -- he was there as recently as three years ago! Fr Leo was a sage and gentle confessor, whose exhortations invariably gave one courage and hope. When I would end a confession with the formula "I am sorry for these sins and for all the sins of my past life," he would say "Now let me take them all away from you!" On one occasion -- without revealing too much here! -- he told his penitent (me), "You're not wicked! You're weak and foolish." I inwardly smiled at the indubitable truth of this diagnosis!

But no, a wonderful confessor, and by all the testimonies I've seen online in the past few hours, a noble and holy soul.

A Random Friar said...

May his gentle soul rest with the Master he so faithfully served!

Brother Charles said...

@dylan One of the friars here was mentioning 'let me take it all away' as well.

Barb, ofs said...

My mom says I should know him from his years of service in Paterson, NJ. She described him as a wonderful and inspiring speaker. May he rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

the little flower and fr. solanus are waiting for you.

GirlCanChant said...

He sounds like a wonderful and holy priest. May he rest in peace.

Jim said...

Dear Brother Charles-

I learned of Father Clifford's death today at the 9 a.m. Mass at Saint Anthony's Shrine.

I would like to extend my sympathy to you as a brother friar who was personally touched by him -

I only knew him as a penitent and was always touched by his kind reassurance that Jesus was always in our lives every moment.

I know that in his later years life was difficult for him with health issues, but it never got in the way of his service to others.

So, I am grateful to have known him during his time at the Shrine and know that he is now enjoying his eternal reward , praying for those of us left here on earth.

May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed , through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Amen.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Clifford had a grand voice like rushing water, perfectly fitted for the outdoor settings, in the grandeur of nature, for his litttle
"Reflections" talks.

Not a word led me to expect his sudden death while in but his sixties. The announcement of his death on EWTN has been rather in passing. I find myself presuming it must have been a heart problem? Others indicate he had health issues? Certainly, I never suspected and wonder what happened to him. Such a peaceful soul will be missed in my home.

Lorraine said...

God rest his soul! I just found out about his death today (the 20th).

Lorraine

Pat Parker said...

Hi Brother Charles, I was so sorry to hear of the Death of Father Leo Clifford, and I want to express my Sympathy to You and the Order of Franciscans to which Father Leo belonged. I met Father Leo almost eleven years ago through ordering a Copy of His Reflection on VCR Tape, and asking him to remember my Husband Jim, and my three Sons, Brian, Tim and Sean in His Prayers. Father wrote me a Wonderful Letter, and was glad how pleased I was with the Reflection Tape, and promise of His Prayers for my Family. I lost my two young Sons, Brian 27 and Tim 25 in an Auto Accident, and I called Father Leo to tell him and ask his Prayers. Father said he was so sorry for our Family and would remember Jim, me and our remaining Son Sean in His Masses and Prayers. Father wrote to me after that, and I wrote back. I know his Prayers, Remembrance in Fathers Masses and his letters to me, helped me to go on after the Loss of my two young Sons. Praise the Lord for such a Holy, Fatherly, Wonderful Priest of the Lord. You could tell how in Love with His Lord, Who he served so Faithfully throughout his Life Father was. I know now Father is with the Lord He Loved so much, and interceding for All of Us, who was so fortunate and blest to have known him. Father Leo, Please pray for All of Us who you knew here on Earth, that we too may get to Heaven, and see Our Lord, Blessed Mother Mary, and also You once again. Sincerely In Christ, Pat Parker ----who has been so blest to have known Father Leo Clifford.

Anonymous said...

I am very sad that Fr. Leo has passed away. His 'reflections' were always the bright spot of my day. So true and inspirational. He had a way of making our time here seem so easy to live and deal with. I wish I had the chance to meet him in person to tell him how positive he made me feel since the passings of my Father and Husband. I was in a slump for awhile but I always remember Fr. Leo saying "the present is a gift so live for today." Thank You and God Bless You Father Leo! Your friend in Christ...Denise

Kathleen said...

I write from England and heard on EWTN this morning of the death of Father Clifford. I loved listening to him but could never make out whther he had an American or an Irish accent, (perhaps a bit of both?). He had a lovely lilting, lulling, way of speaking; and his words always "Hit the Spot"!

May this wonderful priest Rest in God's Peace .... and PLEASE Dear God, send more priests like him - -for we are in dire straights here!

Also, God Bless EWTN!

Kathleen.

Anonymous said...

I admired Fr Leo Clifford so much and was saddened to hear of his passing. Not sad for him, as he has received his great reward.

Some are saying he was in his sixties, but he was born in 1922, making him nearly 90.

Rest in peace

Anonymous said...

Fr Leo Clifford, while at Arch Street, took some of his precious time to speak with me and bless me. He was a kind and gentle soul who lived by Faith. I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to meet with him and have him bless me.

God Bless you Fr. Leo and please intercede for us with our Father in Heaven.

Debbie said...

Earth lost a special, loving soul that heaven gained!

I will miss you, Fr. Clifford and look forward to the day I will see you in God’s kingdom.

Anonymous said...

Father Leo would always say," I hope this will find an echo in our hearts". Hearing all of these wonderful tributes to his life, confirms that his kindness was felt throughout the world.

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney said...

Many a night I would fall asleep to the words of wisdom of Father Clifford. I know that while in Heaven he will continue to watch and pray over his flock. Pray for me Father your power through Jesus Christ is now magnified.

Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
Elizabeth, N.J.

Anonymous said...

TodaY the 30th. of March. I have just listened to Father LEo Clifford..and was shocked to read at the end OF his talk.. his date of birth and his date of departure from us all! God rest his soul. I felt so shocked..HE WAS A SPECIAL SOUL, AND AT A BUSY TIME IN THE AFTERNOON ..WHEN THINGS BEGIN TO GET BUSY WITH CHILDREN COMING FROM SCHOOL , HUSBANDS COMING HOME FROM WORK, AND THINGS HAD TO BE DONE...HIS SHORT REFLECTIONS WERE JUST SOO PERFECT...NO WASTED WORDS..AND I COULD SIT AND LISTEN W/O GUILT KNOWING IT WAS JUST A SHORT REFLECTION..BUT..so very powerful. SO INSPIRING. I LOVED THIS PRIEST SO VERY VERY MUCH. Another son of Saint Patrick who has worked untiringly to bring salvation to us all. When I saw the words of his death ..the first STRONG impulse I within was"A PART OF ME HAS GONE". ON FURTHER REFLECTION ( STILL FEELING STUNNED)I THOUGHT OF THE WORDS " I DIE DAILY' WHEN SUCH GREAT WORKING SOULS FOR GOD PASS AWAY..PART OF US PASS AWAY WITH THEM..EVEN 'THO WE HAVE JUST SEEN THEM ON T.V. BRIEFLY VISITING OUR HOMES. FATHER LEO PRAY FOR ME I'll MISS YOUR BEAUTIFUL DAILY REFLECTIONS. MY HEART FEELS SORE FOR MY LOSS. vERY MUCH LOVE, but with great sadness:
'Slan lath' Marie. x

Anonymous said...

Like many others, I learned of Fr. Leo Clifford's death today at the end of his wonderful Reflections segment on EWTN. I was instantly stunned and saddened to the point of tears. His powerful messages were grace filled and guided me through many challenges in life. His face, voice, demeanor and loving energy flowed out of the television screen and felt surely as though he were speaking just to me. His reflections brought such peace and relevent instruction and I am quite certain that I am a better Catholic for having listened to him for years. I will pray for him and hope that he will pray for me too. What a gift he was to so many. May God bless his loving, giving, caring soul.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou EWTN for allowing us to be a part of Father Leo clifford`s life. I enjoyed his reflections and his beautiful words were very inspiring in the middle of this chaotic world.I am very sad to hear of his death.His soul no doubt is well on it`s way to heaven.Eternal rest grant unto him o Lord and let perpetual light shine on him May he rest in peace amen.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Father Leo and thank you to EWTN for continuing your Reflections and minor Friar for your reflection on how he touched your life.

The music at the beginning and end has such a different sound to me in a sad way knowing you are not here but in my sadness I listened again to one of your Reflections at random called The Purpose of Life. In it you said
that we all are so in love with this world and life that we forget the Great Giver from whom everything has been given to us. We cling so tightly that we feel it to be a great sadness to die when it is truly our purpose for which we were created and saved by grace, to die and return back to our Creator to enjoy God's Love and Joy for all eternity.

Thank You Fr. Leo for helping me to
know [even afer your death],
that you are HAPPY and JOYFUL for all of eternity and for reflecting on that we all can have this too if we would have faith and remember that He is truly the Giver of all things.

Here is a link for anyone who might wish to Reflect with Fr. Leo anytime they feel the need.
copiosa.org/spirituality/franciscan_reflections.htm

God Bless and Peace to All.

Cheryl said...

I have been corresponding with Fr. Leo since 2001. I have a stack of his wonderful letters and prayer cards he would often send. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to meet him in person. Our devotion to Padre Pio was especially a comfort to me. I used an old Padre Pio holy card at my mom's recent funeral with a prayer she learned from the nuns when she was a little girl. Father Leo had sent the card to me in one of his sweet letters. He once sent a picture of himself, at my request, in which he was repairing a hole in his sandal. I will always treaure everything he has sent me. Rest in peace my friend. Cheryl, Milton, FL

Anonymous said...

I am sad to know fr clifford died, I am watching him on ewtn right now. I pray for all who love him. I am a new catholic and am learning more all the time, and hoping to be a member of our parish where I attend Mass when I am well enough.

Anonymous said...

hi brother charles im a carmelite nun from South Africa itoo love this soul so dearly for his reflection were simple and easy to understand i would still wish he was still there i am sadened but God knows what he has done is good for him ,may his soul rest in peace,i hope like Elijar half of his insight remain with the franssicants God bless africa.

maria lurdes said...

love you Father leo i thanks Good for a Great Priest you Father leo and for all people serve Good!

Anonymous said...

God is great. Thank you, God, for Father Leo. May he forever rest in peace.
Tom

Anonymous said...

Father Leo's REFLECTIONS on Mary were quite profound! There were times just his speaking presence gave new depth to Our Lady of Guadalupe pictured in his immediate background. The substance of some of his unique talks seems curiously related to the words at LadyofFatima.Wordpress.com

Dick Venezia said...

Fr. Clifford used to give missions at our little church in the Florida Keys. One day I asked him about his accent, noting that it sounded very British rather than Irish (his homeland). He admitted that it was an acquired British accent, but only after defending his Irish roots. May he rest in peace.

donnell said...

I tried to watch Father Leo Clifford every day on EWTN. I am protestant and I just loved his wisdom and spirituality. I am deeply saddened to learn of his death. I was always encouraged by him and his words

ANDREW J. Di LiDDO, JR. said...

As I write this on Ash Wednesday 2013 we approach the anniversary of Father Leo Clifford's passing. I will miss him even though I never met him in person. I have watched him on EWTN again and again and again and never tire of his Reflections which were instrumental in helping me return to the Church after years of being away. I will always be grateful to him. He had a remarkable journey on this vale of tears. Peace be with you Father Clifford.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Charles,
Thank you for your posting. Just today I have learned of Father Clifford passing when I was researching about him on the Internet and thankfully I found your post.
I am an struggling Colombian (South America) Catholic, who by God's grace was exposed to Father Clifford Reflections on EWTN. I want to testify how his love for God helped me in this process of trying to get closer to God myself and how his wisdom and tender reflections guide me.
He will surely be missed by me and everyone who was touched by his wisdom and tender spirituality. May Father Clifford rest in peace and be exposed first hand to the mercy and love of our Lord and the blessed Virgin Mary.

David Wendell said...

Thank you Father Leo. May you rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

I am only now (2 years 1 month and 24 days later) learning of the death of Fr. Leo Clifford. May he be granted eternal rest in the bosom of the Lord.