Father John Alexander Leies, SM, dies at age 95
Father John Alexander Leies, SM, died in the service of the Blessed Virgin on December 22 at the age of 95 and with 77 years of vowed life. He was born in Chicago on April 24, 1926, the son of Alexander and Thecla (Eggar) Leies.
He met the Marianists at St. Michael High School in Chicago. John made his first vows on Aug. 15, 1944, and pronounced his perpetual vows on July 15, 1948, both at Marynook in Galesville, Wisc. He was ordained on July 22, 1956 in Fribourg, Switzerland.
John graduated from St. Michael High School in 1943. He later received his bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Dayton, Ohio in 1947, a bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology (STB) in 1954, a licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL) in 1965 and a doctorate of Sacred Theology (STD) in 1958, all from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
Prior to going to the seminary, from 1952, John was a teacher at Don Bosco High School in Milwaukee from 1947 to 1952. After completing his seminary studies in 1958, he returned to Don Bosco High School as a chaplain and teacher until 1961, when he was asked to serve the former St. Louis Province as assistant for Religious Life until 1964. He then traveled to Lima, Peru to serve as administrator of Colegio Santa Maria for four years. In 1968 he returned to Chaminade High School in St. Louis to teach and serve as school chaplain for six years.
In 1974 he began a lifetime of service with St. Mary’s University as professor, chaplain, chair of the Theology Department, administrative vice-president and president of the university.
Father Leies served as a columnist for Today’s Catholic newspaper for many years, as well as a host on several programs on Catholic Television of San Antonio. “I was honored to work with Father Leies on the ‘Today’s Catholic on TV’ program on CTSA in the early 2000s,” said Jordan McMorrough, director of Communications for the archdiocese and editor of Today’s Catholic newspaper. “Father John and Deacon Pat Rodgers served as co-hosts of the weekly news program, and I remember thinking at the time – and still do today – that their professionalism and knowledge of the subject matter they were discussing exceeded what is shown on the major cable news networks. It was a first-class show.”
In 2007 Father Leies began his semi-retirement, always willing to help in any way possible.
Father John had two sisters, Marie (Perry) and Carol (Ferrari), both deceased and a brother who died at a very young age. He is survived by nieces and nephews: Suzanne, Mark, Janet, Steve, Dave and Jeff (Perry); and John, Beth, Nora, Claudia & Edward (Ferrari).
Viewing and rosary were held at Holy Rosary Parish on December 29, and viewing and Mass of Christian Burial was held there the following day on December 30. Burial was in Marianist Cemetery.
Both services can be viewed on Facebook.com/HolyRosarySA/ under (Facebook Live) and on St. Mary’s University webpage.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Marianist Mission, Mt. St. John, 4435 East Patterson Rd, Dayton, OH 45430-1033 or to the John A. Leies Scholarship Fund at St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, TX.