January 18, 2024 – Fr. Leo J. Daly, S.J., was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on July 28, 1930, the son of Leo J. Daly and Margaret McGowan. His baptism in Brooklyn’s St. Franics Xavier Church was perhaps a signal that the Society of Jesus would be a significant part of his life. This came to fruition when he went to and graduated from the Jesuit high school, Brooklyn Prep (1944-48), and then entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on August 14, 1948. After four years at St. Andrew’s for novitiate and juniorate (1948-52), he moved on to three years of philosophy study at Bellarmine College, Plattsburgh. N.Y. (1952-55). As a regent, Fr. Daly spent three years at Loyola School in Manhattan where he taught Latin and English (1955-58). Regency was followed by four years of theological Studies at Woodstock College in Maryland (1958-62) where he earned both a bachelor’s degree and a licentiate in theology. After three years at Woodstock, Fr. Daly was ordained to the priesthood at the Fordham University Church on June 17, 1961. From Woodstock he headed across the Atlantic for tertianship at the famous St. Bueno’s in Wales (1962-63).
After tertianship Fr. Daly began a long career of being available and ready to go wherever the Provincial needed him. His first assignment after tertianship was as Assistant Principal at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City. In those days he would have been called the Prefect of Discipline (1963-66). It was at St. Peter’s where he took his final vows. Three years later he was assigned to be the Minister at Loyola Seminary, Shrub Oak, N.Y. In 1969, while living at Xavier High School in New York, he studied guidance counseling at Columbia University (1969-71), which led to a degree and to his becoming student counselor for four years at Regis High School in New York (1971-75). Subsequently, he took his counseling skills back to the Xavier High School where he had appointed Local Superior in the Jesuit Community (1975-79). After all this, he got a well-deserved sabbatical (1979-80).
In 1980, Fr. Daly began his happy affiliation with Fordham University where he became Director of Campus ministry for the next eight years (1980-88). Then came a move to St. Ignatius Retreat House in Long Island (Inisfada), where he worked initially as a member of the staff (1988-93) and then became Local Superior of the Jesuit Community and Director of the Retreat House (1993-99). After another sabbatical (1999-2000), Fr. Daly flew across the Pacific for his first stint in Micronesia to be Director of Campus ministries at the University of Guam (2000-02). After two years of island life, Fr. Daly headed back to the mainland for a five year stay as Assistant to the Rector at St. Peter’s College in Jersey City (2002-2007). But island life called him back and he went off to Micronesia again for a two-year term as Catholic Chaplain at the U.S. Army Missile Range on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands (2007-09). The Jesuit Martyrs’ Shrine in Auriesville, N.Y., was the next to receive Fr. Daly’s services (2009-15). There he was an assistant to the Director and helped in local parishes. From Auriesville Fr. Daly came back to Fordham University in 2015 where he worked in the Office of Alumni Relations (2015-20). It was during this time that Fr. Daly began to have some serious health issues which eventually led to his move across campus to the Murray-Weigel Hall Jesuit Health care facility in August of 2020.
During these years at Murray-Weigel, Fr. Daly was able to maintain a good deal of independence. Despite dealing with serious illness—surgeries, radiation, immunotherapy, and partial loss of vision and hearing—he remained cheerful and engaged with family and friends. He especially enjoyed the surprise celebration for his 90th birthday; and was happy to get to an occasional game of the Fordham women’s basketball team for whom he had been chaplain for several years. But his sickness became more and more debilitating and eventually got the best of him. He died quite peacefully in the early evening of January 14, 2024. We trust that he now rests in peace with the Lord whom he served so faithfully as a Jesuit and priest for more than 75 years.