70-year-old widower and grandfather ordained to priesthood

Posted: Friday, March 26, 2004

MASSILLON, Ohio (AP) A 70-year-old widower with 10 children and nearly two dozen grandchildren has started a new career as a Roman Catholic priest.

Samuel Leonard was ordained last week in the Diocese of Youngstown. He will work in New Bedford, Mass., where his religious order, the Institute of the Incarnate Word, runs St. Kilian Church.

''I've always wanted to be a priest,'' Leonard said as he accepted hugs and handshakes from friends and family members after his ordination.

He had considered entering the priesthood as a young man, but he fell in love and got married. His wife died in 1998.

''My wife and I were always active in the church,'' Leonard said. ''I even quit my job in 1979 to devote myself to full-time lay ministry, and watched God do some miraculous things.''

When his wife died, he once again thought about becoming a priest, but thought the church would consider him too old to be a candidate.

A friend told him about the religious order, which works out of Cheverly, Md., and they welcomed him despite his age.

The 20-year-old Institute of the Incarnate Word was founded in Argentina has 200 priests in parishes and seminaries around the world.

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