Biographies

Father J. Leo Davis, MM

Born: October 1, 1901
Ordained: June 13, 1926
Died: March 25, 1979

Father Joseph Leo Davis died at Los Altos in the early morning of March 25th.

Father Leo was born October 1, 1901, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the son of William Davis and Margaret Magee. He attended St. John’s Parochial School and St. Thomas High School in Scranton before entering Maryknoll at Clark’s Summit in September of 1917. He received a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Catholic University in 1925 and was ordained June 13, 1926.

He departed for Fushun, Manchuria, on September 8, 1926, where he labored until an illness necessitated his return to the U. S. early in 1932. Shortly after, Father Leo wrote to Bishop James A. Walsh: “œI wish to thank you for your wonderful kindness to me and my family while I was sick.Your thoughtfulness and sympathy to my Mother and Father strengthened and comforted them immeasurably. It was during this great trial that I realized so fully what a loving Father you are to all us Maryknollers.”

Well known by virtually every member of the Society, and affectionately known as ‘Pop’, Father Leo was exemplary in his loyalty to the Society and in his fidelity to the priesthood.

The extent of his talent and zeal in this service is evident in the multiplicity of his assignments: as Spiritual Director, Vice-Rector, Professor of Moral Theology, Professor of Canon Law, librarian, Archivist, and Delegate to the Fourth General Chapter of the Society. In 1931, when Father Leo was recovering his health, Bishop James A. Walsh wrote to him: “We have always been edified by your spirit of zeal… I feel it is far better to wait a little longer (before returning to work) to insure a long life of usefulness to come — if it be God’s will.” Such was indeed God’s will and Father Leo’s vocation.

The funeral took place on March 27th at Los Altos with Father William Pheur as Principal Celebrant and Father Francis MacRae as homilist. The Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated at Maryknoll, New York, on March 28th at 12 noon, with Father John Cioppa as Principal Celebrant and Father Francis Winslow as homilist.