Father Leo J. Melancon, MM

Born: June 26, 1907
Ordained: December 8, 1932
Died: December 4, 2005

Father Leo J. Melancon died on December 4, 2005 at St. Teresa’s Residence, Maryknoll, New York. He was 98 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 72 years.

Leo Joseph Melancon was born on June 26, 1907, in Fall River, Massachusetts, the 10th child (of 13) of Leon and Lucia Bouffard Melancon. His early education was at St. Anne’s School, run by the Sisters of St. Anne Parish, followed by high school with the Christian Brothers. He took a commercial course before he entered Maryknoll Apostolic College (Venard) in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania on September 9, 1922. After five years at the Venard and one year at Maryknoll Seminary in New York, he was assigned to Collegio Maryknoll in Rome, Italy, on June 17, 1928, for special studies at the Angelicum University. During his years there, he secured his Licentiate Degrees in both Philosophy and Theology. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 8, 1932 in the chapel of the North American College in Rome.

In September 1934, he was appointed to the Venard faculty, where he taught philosophy and French until 1941 when he was assigned to the faculty of the Major Seminary at Maryknoll, New York. There he served as Dean of Philosophical Studies and Professor of Philosophy and advanced French.

On May 6, 1944, Father Melancon was assigned to the Maryknoll mission in Puno, Peru, where he served for three years as pastor of the Crucero and Sandia parishes at the very high altitude of 14,383 feet. He attended the Society’s Third General Chapter in 1946 as the Delegate of the Peru mission. On November 28, 1947, he was transferred to the Maryknoll mission in Bolivia, and he served as Director of the Center House in Cochabamba for one year. In December of 1948, he was recalled to the United States to teach at St. Gregory Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. Six months later Father Melancon was called upon to teach for a semester at Maryknoll Junior College, Lakewood, New Jersey. In 1950, he was assigned to teach Philosophy and French at Maryknoll College, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, for one year.

On May 4, 1951, Father Melancon was assigned to aid in the development of and teach at the new Mexican Foreign Mission Seminary in Tlalpan, Mexico. In 1955, he was transferred to the Maryknoll Mission in Yucatan, where he served for the next thirty-one years. During those years, he served as econome of the Center House, Procurator and bookkeeper of the Mission Region, and Professor of Philosophy at the Diocesan Seminary of San Ildelfonso in Merida.

On February 13, 1986, at age 79, Father Melancon was assigned to the Special Society Unit, with residence in the Maryknoll Development House in Metairie, Louisiana. In 1990, he moved to the Maryknoll Development House in Los Angeles, California. Father moved to St. Teresa’s Residence in July 1997 and was assigned to the Retirement Community, February 2001. Father Melancon was an accomplished, self-taught, classical pianist.

Wake services were held at 4:30 p.m. on December 6, 2005 at St. Teresa’s, with Father John Hudert officiating, and at 7:30 p.m. in Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll Center where Father Ernest Lukaschek officiated and Father Joseph McGahren read the biography. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated in Queen of Apostles Chapel on December 7, 2005 at 11:00 a.m. Father Kevin Hanlon was Principal Celebrant and homilist. Burial followed in Maryknoll Society Cemetery with Father John Sivalon conducting the graveside service.