BROTHER LEONARD KIREJEWSKI, O.F.M
Holy Family Friary
1998 FAA Christian Life Award Recipient
Brother Leonard (AKA "Friend") was born Charles Kirejewski in Morris Run (near Scranton) Pennsylvania in 1907. For several years he worked for Lycoming Motor Corporation in Williamsport, PA and also did a lot of church work before seeing a "St. Anthony Messenger" ad about joining the Franciscans. He was interested in going to the missions, especially China. In 1936 at the age of 29, he came to St. Francis Seraph to look over the friars. He obviously liked what he saw because he never did go back home.
After being invested as a Tertiary brother at Oldenburg in 1936, he was stationed in Lukachukai, Arizona in 1937. One of his many jobs there was undertaker; first he had to check for heartbeat, pulse, breathing or dilated pupils. He made the casket, dug the grave and never failed to pray for the people he buried. When the provincial came for visitation in 1938, Leonard said that he loved it in Lukachukai and promptly found himself moved to St. Michael's, Arizona and then to Our Lady of Sorrows in Kansas City, Missouri. Invested in the First Order in 1939, he made his solemn profession in 1943 and for the next 12 years was stationed at Mt. Airy. After spending 1955 and 1956 in Oldenburg, he returned to Mt. Airy until 1967 when he and the novices were transferred to Oldenburg, where he has lived ever since. In addition to portering, cooking and other duties there, Brother Leonard became very involved in woodworking, specializing in grandfather clocks.
For years Brother Leonard has been known for his colorful bow ties. He resolved long ago not to imitate the friars who had yesterday's soup, etc. on their cowls. His outlook on life is always positive: "St. Francis was a friend to everyone...My purpose in life is to make the whole world friendly... We've never had it so good.... We're headed for heaven; the best is yet to come."