Funeral Homily for Fr. Leo Long, RIP
Church of the Sacred Heart, Scarriff
Saturday 22nd of October, 2022
In 1931, just two years after Michael Leo Long was born in this parish Church of the Sacred Heart here in Scarriff – Harry Clarke Studio Windows were installed in here by a man called Richard King. These famous windows have drawn many people here to pray, to reflect and admire the kaleidoscope of colour. Castlebar native, King was a master at his trade, an outstanding specialist in stain glass. King went to meet his maker in 1974 and on his memorial card there is a simple quotation from Psalm 26 “I have loved the beauty of your house, O Lord.”
The colourful stain glass masterpieces that King installed here draw us into the devotion and faith and ecclesiastical heritage of the area surrounding Inis Cealtra, the hinterland of Holy Island.
Windows depicting saints with strong connections with the area:
- Colman MacDuagh and Flannan
- Augustine and Anthony,
- Brigid and Claire,
- Donatus and Caimin
Was it any wonder that 4 young men who grew up in this devotional and faith filled atmosphere would be ordained from the parish on the same day in St. Flannan’s College on the eve of the feast of St. Columcille, the 8th of June in 1953.
What a remarkable occasion for such a small town with two brothers on the double ordained on the same day. John and Leo Long along with Manus and Gerald Rodgers, ordained by the coadjutor bishop of the time, Joseph Rodgers.
On Friday week last I was at a function in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Youghalarra and the two Mass servers on that ordination occasion were present, Donie Nealon and Fr. Seamus Gardiner. Both hale and hearty just short of 70 years later, thank God.
We pray for the happy repose of the soul of Fr. Leo during this Mass. May the Lord forgive whatever human failings he may have had and we pray for the consolation of all his family and many friends. We remember especially Sr. Concilio, Loughrea, Mary McInerney, Ennis, Neilis, here in Scariff, sister-in-law Kitty and all the family. We also recall the memory of Fr. Jackie and Eamonn, may the Lord increase their glory in heaven.
Fr. Leo had a great capacity for friendship and had many loyal friends. Being such an entertaining and witty character he made friends easily and as someone said he had the capacity of being able to growl at his friends just as quickly as he would entertain and cajole.
I used to enjoy so much visiting the presbytery in Nenagh with Fr. Leo present. He held court at the head of the table. I was invariably put in the corner back position. I always felt Leo was uneasy being marked by a bishop and felt he was slightly subdued and toned down on the banter and outspokenness on such occasions. Like so many of that generation interaction with bishops was generally on the basis of the less said the better!
Fr. Leo was, I’m told ‘certainly his own man’, perhaps the most outgoing and extravert of the family. He displayed an independence of spirit, freedom and willingness to give things a go. Bearing that in mind it is little wonder that he lived an adventurous life, ministering in Australia for many years, being ordained for Melbourne Archdiocese.
This evening being the vigil of Mission Sunday, the theme this year chosen by Pope Francis, being “Your Shall be my Witness” – we mark the witness and missionary spirit shown by an energetic young native of Scarriff who left his beloved home land to share the strong faith of this Inis Cealtra Pastoral Area.
Returning in later life to his native diocese Fr. Leo continued to serve for several more years, even well beyond retirement age, in a number of locations, namely Killaloe, Kilmurry-McMahon, Silvermines, Templderry and in recent times fully retired in Nenagh, Ennis and Carrigoran. Despite his adventurous spirit his heart was always in county Clare and being close to family was so important to Leo. He was good to family and that was very much reciprocated in spades!
In his latter years, it was good to see that Leo had time to harvest some quality time of faith and devotion with time to reflect and pray. I recall calling to him during the pandemic in his residence in Cuan an Chláir. Obviously obligation and duty was so important to him, despite his advanced years. His eyesight was not good enough to read his breviary, but he took great solace in being able to pray the Divine Office in unison with what was being broadcast on EWTN that he tuned into regularly on his then recently installed flat screen TV.
We thank the Lord today for 69 years of generous service in the priesthood of Fr. Leo, just one short of platinum jubilee…
He will be sadly missed by many. Sympathies and condolences to many who mourn his departure.
We pray that he will be rewarded by being united with his Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Good shepherd of the Gospel today.
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus along with the saints of this area in the array of colour that brightens this sacred space in the beauty of God’s house transport the soul of Fr. Leo to the reward of his priestly service in the paradise of heaven.
Solas na bhfaitheas dá anam uasal dílis.
Michael Leo Long was a native of Scariff parish born on 10th April 1929. He studied in St. Flannan’s College from 1941 to 1946. He undertook studies for the priesthood in St. Patrick’s College, Carlow from 1946 to 1952. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Joseph Rodgers in St. Flannan’s College, Ennis on the 8th of June 1952 along with his brother Fr. Jackie (John) Long. Fr Leo was ordained for the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia.
From 1952 until 1967 he served as assistant priest in the parishes of Newport, Gordon, North Dandenong and South Melbourne.
In 1967 he was appointed parish priest of the parish of St. Peter Julian Eymard, Mooroolbark. In 1972 he became parish priest of the parish of St. Fidelis, Moreland. In 1982 he was appointed parish priest of St. Kevin’s Ormond.
He returned to the Diocese of Killaloe in 1991. He served in Killaloe parish from 1991 to 1992. In Kilmurry McMahon parish from 1992 to 2000. In the Silvermines and Templederry parishes from 2000 to 2004. In 2004 he was appointed administrator of Templederry parish. In 2006 he became assistant priest in Templederry. He retired to Nenagh in 2017. He spent his final months in Carrigoran nursing home, Newmarket on Fergus.
He died on the 19th October 2022. May He Rest in Peace.
Reposing in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Scariff on Friday Oct 21st from 6-8pm with prayers at 8pm. Funeral Mass on Saturday October 22nd at 3pm followed by burial in the church grounds.
Nenagh Guardian Article
On June 8th 1952, two pairs of brothers from the east Clare village of Scariff were ordained to the priesthood at St Flannan’s College, Ennis by the then Co-adjutor Bishop Joseph Rodgers.
Fifty years later, two of them are ministering in Silvermines parish and last Wednesday night the people of that parish assembled to honour what the brochure for the occasion described as “fifty years of golden service”.
Fr Manus Rodgers P.P. and Fr Leo Long C.C. were special guests of the Silvermines community, joining several priests in celebration at a Thanksgiving Mass in Our Lady of Lourdes Church before adjourning to the nearby community hall where suitable presentations were made to them.
Present too was Fr Manus’ brother Fr Gerald, who ministers in England and who was also the recipient of a gift. Fr Leo’s brother, Fr John is deceased.
With the honoured trio as Mass concelebrants were Archdeacon John Hogan, Frs Liam Murray, James Minogue. Edmund Kennedy, Seamus Gardiner, Rory McInerney, Enda Burke, Oliver O’Doherty, Harry Bohan. Michael O’Meara. Brendan Kyne and Brendan Moloney.
Two of the Mass servers on the occasion of the ordination ceremony were Fr Gardiner and Donie Nealon who was also present on Wednesday night.
The homily was preached by Fr Bohan.
Co-incidentally, all four 1952 ordinands, not alone hailed from Scariff, they all attended the same local national school. While three of them pursued their second level education in St Flannan’s College, Ennis, Fr Gerald went to St Brendan’s College in Killarney.
All of them studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Carlow, Fr Manus and the late Fr John being ordained to minister in Killaloe diocese, Fr Leo in far off Melbourne and Fr Gerald in the diocese of Clifton.
It is indeed co-incidental that two of them, Frs Manus and Leo find themselves ministering in Silvermines, both having arrived there by circuitous routes,
Following his ordination, Fr Manus spent four years in Brentwood in England, returning in 1956 to his first appointment within the diocese, C.C. in Kilmaley. Periods in Killaloe, Newmarket-on-Fergus and Tulla followed between then and 1986, when he became PP in Flagmount, a position he held there until 1989, which saw him move to Silvermines.
Meanwhile, Fr Leo set off for Australia following ordination, ministering in several parishes in the Melbourne diocese both as C.C. and P.P. In 1991 he returned to Ireland and to Killaloe diocese serving in Killaloe parish for six months. In March 1992 he moved to Kilmurry McMahon-Labasheeda before coming to Silvermines in July 2000, where he found himself back with his old school friend and classmate, Fr Manus.
But not alone that, the shortage of priests in the diocese has caused a joint ministry with Templederry for the curate, and Fr Leo has Fr Manus in Silvermines and Fr J.J. (a cousin of Fr Manus’) as his parish priests.
Suitable gifts were presented to the two extremely popularand well-liked priests at last week’s celebration, Maurice Daffy doing the honours on behalf of the parish. Because of his association with the
Silvermines GAA club (he is honorary President), Fr Manus was the recipient of a presentation on behalf of the club, made by its chairman, John Kennedy