home News | Diocese of Leeds

Site Search

Find a Church

Find a School

Find People

Rev Daniel (Donal) O'Leary RIP

30th January 2019

Rev Daniel (Donal) O'Leary RIP

Canon John Nunan has received requests for a copy of the Homily he preached at Fr Donal O'Leary's funeral.  Please find the entire text attached here:  /assets/files/Homily-FrDonalO-Leary.pdf


We remember in our prayers, Fr Donal's brother, Fr Michael O'Leary, and the rest of his family and friends.  The funeral arrangements were as follows:  Reception of the Body on Tuesday, 29th January, at 8.00pm St Helen’s Catholic Church, 112, Alexandra Road, Crosby, Liverpool L23 7TQ.  Requiem Mass on Wednesday, 30th January, at 12.30pm St Helen’s Catholic Church, 112, Alexandra Road, Crosby, Liverpool L23 7TQ followed by cremation at Thornton Garden of Rest, Lydiate Lane, Thornton, Liverpool L23 1TP (Fr Donal’s ashes will be taken back to Ireland).  Refreshments served at St George’s Parish Hall, Station Road, Maghull, Liverpool, L31 3DF. 


Fr O’Leary was born on 5th January 1937 at Rathmore in County Kerry, Ireland. He studied for the priesthood at All Hallows’ College, Dublin and was ordained there for the Leeds Diocese on 19th June 1960. From 1960-64 he served as Assistant Priest at St Walburga’s, Shipley, and then at St Joseph’s, Pudsey from 1964-67, during which time he was Chaplain to St Bernadette’s School in Leeds.


In 1967 Fr O’Leary went to London for further studies and the following year he began to combine these studies with an appointment at St Marie’s Church in Sheffield. In 1972 he returned to full-time studies at St Mary’s College, Strawberry Hill in London and shortly afterwards he joined the college’s academic staff. For the next twenty years almost he taught theology and religious studies at the college, becoming chair of the Religious Studies Department. He was awarded Masters Degrees in theology, spirituality and religious education.


Fr O’Leary returned to the Diocese in 1991 and became Parish Priest of St Benedict’s, Garforth. From 1993 until 1999 he was Episcopal Vicar for Christian Formation. In 2000 he was appointed to St Wilfrid’s, Ripon where he served as Parish Priest until 2005. For a short while afterwards he resided at St Patrick’s, Huddersfield until retiring to Kinsley near Pontefract. In recent years he had lived at Blundellsands near Liverpool.


Fr O’Leary died on Monday 21st January 2019 aged eighty-two. He was not only well-known within the Leeds Diocese but much further afield. He was the author of twelve books and in the past a regular contributor to The Tablet and the Irish Furrow. He was renowned as a retreat giver to clergy, parishes and educationalists both in this country and abroad. Over many years his theology and spirituality were an inspiration to countless people who encountered him in person or through his writings and he will be greatly missed.


May he Rest in Peace.