Fr. Leo Clifford (1922-2012) was born March 21 in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland, and was baptized Diarmuid Brendan. He then studied for two years at St. John’s Seminary, Waterford, before entering the Order at the friary in his hometown in 1941, receiving the name Leo.
In 1954, Fr. Leo received permission to come to the United States. For the next 50 years, he devoted himself to preaching, chiefly retreats and days of recollection for priests and religious.
He maintained his extensive European connections. In 1962, he was asked to serve as English-language secretary to Cardinal Leo Suenens of Malines-Brussels at the Second Vatican Council. After a sabbatical year in 1993, Fr. Leo formally transferred from the Franciscan Province of Ireland to Holy Name Province. Although he began to slow down his traveling in the 1990s, videos of his talks continued to be broadcast daily on the EWTN television network. In 2003, he retired to St. Anthony Residence in Boston, but continued to serve as a confessor at St. Anthony Shrine, where he had a sizeable following. In 2010, he transferred first to St. Anthony Friary, Butler, N.J., and then to Holy Name Friary, Ringwood, N.J.
Fr. Leo died there on Feb. 16, 2012. at the age of 89 having served as a professed friar for 69 years and a priest for 65 years.