Msgr. Thomas Leonard, a former vice chancellor and regional vicar of the archdiocese who served at Holy Trinity parish in Manhattan for 24 years, died Oct. 18 at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan. He was 90.
He was at Holy Trinity as pastor, 1990-2003, and senior priest administrator, 2003-2014. He came out of retirement in 2014 to serve as temporary administrator of St. Stephen of Hungary parish, Manhattan.
A Funeral Mass was to be celebrated Oct. 24 at Immaculate Conception Church, Tuckahoe, with Cardinal Dolan as principal celebrant and Father Gary Mead as homilist. A Memorial Mass is being offered Friday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church with Auxiliary Bishop John O’Hara as celebrant.
He was administrator of Immaculate Conception, Woodbourne, 1990; and temporary administrator of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Highland Falls, 1989-1990, and St. Brigid, Manhattan, 1971-1973. He was at Incarnation parish, Manhattan, as pastor, 1977-1989, and parochial vicar, 1967-1969, and was parochial vicar of Immaculate Conception, Irvington, 1956-1961.
He served as regional vicar of West Manhattan, 1990-1993, and chairman of the Priest Personnel Board and vice chancellor, 1973-1977.
“Everyone recalls his humor, insight, patience with people and ability to plan and anticipate things. I can’t express how important the people and the environment they worshiped in were to him,” said Msgr. Thomas Sandi, pastor of Holy Trinity since Msgr. Leonard retired from there in 2014 at age 86.
“He was both tough and tender. For better or worse, he always told the truth.”
Colleen Glazer was an actress and singer when she became a parishioner at Holy Trinity 35 years ago. She’s served the last 18 years as the director of religious education.
“I loved him because he gave me something I never knew I wanted,” she said of working in the parish.
He was appointed a member of the archdiocese’s Advisory Board and Priests’ Retirement Board and served on the faculty at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie.
“I knew him very well because of his work in the seminary when I was there in the early 1970s. He was in charge of field ministries and would check on the deacons,” Msgr. Sandi said.
“When I was ordained a priest in 1973 and wanted to go into the military to serve as a chaplain, I had to reach him because he was in charge of priest personnel.”
Born in New York City, he graduated from Regis High School in Manhattan and served two years in the U.S. Navy before completing his bachelor’s degree in English at Fordham University, the Bronx, and entering St. Joseph’s Seminary in 1951. He was ordained by Cardinal Francis Spellman in 1956 and was named a monsignor in 1974.
His brother, John, survives him.
Burial was at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne.