Reverend Albert R. Leary, 87, passed away on February 9, 2014, at St. Gabriel Community in Bismarck. Mass of Christian burial will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, February 13, with the Most Rev. David D. Kagan, Bishop of Bismarck, officiating. Bishop Emeritus Paul A. Zipfel and the priests of the Diocese of Bismarck will concelebrate. Burial will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Visitation will be held at the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Strasburg, ND on Tuesday, February 11 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. with a vigil at 7:00 p.m. A Mass for the Dead will be held at Sts. Peter and Paul on Wednesday, February 12 at 10:00 a.m. Visitation will then continue at the Church of Christ the King in Mandan from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m., with a Knights of Columbus rosary at 6:30 p.m. followed by a vigil at 7:00 p.m. Visitation will also be held one hour prior to Mass at Christ the King.
Father Albert R. Leary was born in Watertown, Massachusetts on Sunday, December 12, 1926, the sixth child of James Edmund Leary and Margaret Agnes Mahoney. He decided, at an early age, to respond to God’s call to become a priest. He attended St. John’s Archdiocesan Seminary as he began his training for the priesthood. Bishop Vincent J. Ryan, the second Bishop of Bismarck, made frequent visits to Boston and sought volunteers to work in his diocese. Father Leary agreed to become a candidate for the priesthood of the Bismarck Diocese, and Bishop Ryan transferred him to Christ the King Seminary, the theology division of St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York.
He was ordained for the Diocese of Bismarck on May 1, 1954 by Bishop Eric McKenzie, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston. He received a Master’s Degree in Theology from St. Bonaventure University. In preparation for his future work in education, he received a Master’s Degree in Education from Boston College in 1957 and a Doctoral Degree from the University of North Dakota in 1975.
Father Leary’s first assignment was as an assistant at St. Leo, Minot, until 1960. He then served as pastor at St. Boniface, Grenora, and Our Lady of Good Counsel, Hanks, until 1965. From 1965 to 1969, he served as pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle, Tioga. He served one year as pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle, Gladstone, during which time he also served as assistant administrator at Trinity High School, Dickinson. From 1971 to 1976 he served as the administrator of Trinity High School. His next appointment was as pastor of St. Wenceslaus, Dickinson, until 1980. He then became pastor at St. Joseph, Williston, and St. John the Baptist, Trenton, and served there until 1986. Father Leary was then appointed pastor at Christ the King, Mandan, St. Anthony, St. Anthony, and St. Martin, Huff, until 2006 when he retired.
Over the years he was involved in diocesan service posts including the following: Appointed to the College of Consultors by Bishop Hilary B. Hacker, D.D., 1968-1982; Elected to the Presbyteral Council and College of Consultors, September 1987- September 1997, Chairman 1990-1991, Dean of the Mandan Deanery; Elected to the Priests’ Personnel Board, September 1993-September 2002; State Chaplain- ND State Council, Knights of Columbus, 1989-2000; Diocesan Catholic Schools Commission, 1995 for several years including a term as President; Ecumenical Commission- Diocese of Bismarck; Vicar for Religious, 10 years; Member of the Due Process Board- Diocese of Bismarck; Member of the God’s Share Appeals Committee; President of the Priests’ Benefit Association - Diocese of Bismarck; Appointed Associate Judge of the Interdiocesan Tribunal of Second Instance for the Ecclesiastical Province of St. Paul and Minneapolis by Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, D.D.; Appointed Judge of the Tribunal for the Diocese of Fargo for Court of Second Instances cases by The Most Rev. James. S. Sullivan, D.D., Bishop of Fargo on February 28, 2001; Built the Church of St. Boniface, Grenora, ND – dedicated by Bishop Hilary B. Hacker, D.D., on Tuesday April 7, 1964; Built the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, Tioga, ND – dedicated by Bishop Hilary B. Hacker, D.D., on Monday August 5, 1968; Remodeled the Church of St. Wenceslaus, Dickinson, ND – 1975-1976; Built the Church of St. Joseph, Williston, ND - dedicated by Bishop Hilary B. Hacker, D.D., on Sunday October 11, 1981; Remodeled the Church of Christ the King, Mandan, ND. Since the diocese was without a bishop, the church was rededicated by The Right Rev. Patrick Moore, O.S.B., Abbot of Assumption Abbey, on Sunday November 26, 1995 on the Feast of Christ the King; Remodeled Christ the King School which was blessed and rededicated by Bishop Paul A. Zipfel on August 24, 2000; Built the Agnes Larkin Family Parish Life Center which was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Paul A. Zipfel – October 2001.
Upon his retirement in 2006, he became a resident of Strasburg, ND. He enjoyed celebrating Mass regularly when he was not on a cruise! On May 1, 2013, he gave up his residency there and moved permanently into an apartment at Emmaus Place, a retirement center for priests in Bismarck, ND.
Father Leary is survived by his sisters Marie B. McCarthy and Jean E. (Philip) O’Connell, many nephews and nieces, along with his extended family, Albert and Linda Kuntz family, Sister Jovann Irrgang, SSND, Rita Landsberger, and Marlys Martwick. He was preceded in death by his parents James and Margaret Leary, his brothers Jim, Paul, Joe, Leo, Bob and his sister Peggy, as well as several nephews and nieces.
Memorials may be given to the Diocese of Bismarck Seminarian Fund or Emmaus Place.
>> Read "
The LIFE of a dying priest" DCA article on Fr. Leary here