Father Leonard Byrnes, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1876-1940)

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Born William Byrnes on December 14, 1876, he grew up on the lower west side of New York City. He was educated at LaSalle Academy conducted by the Christian Brothers. He then entered the Passionists and professed his vows on February 20, 1898. His religious name was Leonard. He conducted his studies at Normandy, Missouri and Cincinnati, Ohio and then was ordained on January 18, 1903 by Archbishop Moeller in Cincinnati. For his first seven years he was a preacher of parish missions. In 1911 he was assigned to St. Michael’s Parish, West Hoboken, New Jersey as the senior curate. Three years later he was appointed as pastor. He then was assigned as a preacher once again for up to ten years. During World War I he was a military chaplain in the U.S. Army but the armistice prevented him from serving overseas. During his last sixteen years he confronted illness of a rare bone disease. He resided in Riverdale, New York where he was also chaplain to the Convent of the Visitation Nuns which was directly behind the Riverdale house. In later years he also assisted as a confessor at the Westchester Protectory which was operated by the Christian Brothers. He died at Shelter Island. This was the first death since the foundation had begun there. He had gone there for an opportunity to rest but died of a heart seizure after celebrating Mass.

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