Vale Monsignor Leo Grant - 1917 to 2012

Sunday 12th August ~ Prayer Vigil in the Cathedral at 7.30pm
Monday 13th August ~ Requiem Mass in the Cathedral at 11.00am

Monsignor Leo Grant, the oldest of our Diocesan priests, was called to his eternal home on Sunday 5th August 2012 following a fall and a subsequent short illness. He was 95 years old and had been a priest of the Diocese of Bathurst for over 69 years.

Leo Grant was born on 25th January, 1917 in Canowindra to George James Grant Jnr. and Ruby Frances (nee Powderly), graziers of Brookside property about 8kms from Canowindra township. The eldest of five children, he attended St. Edward’s, Canowindra and then St. Stanislaus’ College, Bathurst.

His formation for the priesthood continued at St. Columba’s College, Springwood then St. Patrick’s College, Manly and he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Bathurst at St. Edward’s Church, Canowindra on 25th July, 1943, by Bishop John Norton.

During his 49 years of active service in the Diocese, Monsignor Grant’s appointments included: Assistant Priest of the Cathedral Parish, Administrator of the Cathedral and Administrator of St. Joseph’s Orange. He was also Chaplain at Bathurst Teachers’ College, Diocesan Chancellor and Chaplain for the Catholic Women’s Association.

One of his enduring achievements was the establishment of the St. Pats CYMS (Catholic Young Men’s Society) in Bathurst on 17th February 1944. Asked by Bishop Norton to “do something for the young people”, with no experience in this area, he set about doing just that. Monthly dances, picnics, a football team, special monthly Masses and a club paper called ‘Uncensored”, all encouraged ever increasing numbers to join the Club which expanded into other sporting activities. For many years he encouraged and inspired all with whom he came in contact. His concern for, and complete involvement in the problems of the youth of the time, earned him the respect and gratitude of the entire community.

In 1964, he was appointed Assistant Director of the Propagation of the Faith and spent three years based in Sydney, travelling extensively overseas to various mission countries - something that was to rekindle his long-time interest in missionary work. When Pope John XXIII called for volunteers for South America, Mons Grant asked Bishop Norton for permission to go; at first denied, permission was finally given for a period of three years - but eventually extended to almost 25 years! He was appointed Parish Priest in Sol de Oro, Los Olivos, Lima, where he remained until his retirement at the age of 75. On his arrival, the participation in their faith of the men of the area was almost non-existent. Father Grant soon set about to change that. Forming a parish council, he encouraged them to come to Mass and put them in charge of everything - and it paid off. They started coming to Mass each Sunday and others soon followed their example. Eventually, the humble Mass Centre developed into 11 churches - each with a priest and a school was established.

He returned to Australia in 1992 following a period of study at the Gregorian University in Rome and though retired, continued to work as Diocesan Director of both Caritas - until 2000 - and Catholic Mission - until 2001.

Coinciding with his retirement was the technology revolution, which Mons Grant grabbed with both hands. He purchased a computer and set about teaching himself how to use it with gusto, often instructing the staff at the Chancery office who were just getting used to the new technology themselves.

He developed an interest in researching his extensive and extremely interesting family tree, much to the delight of his many relatives and used his computer skills to document it all. He was a regular visitor to the Chancery office, providing valuable assistance with the Diocesan Archives - the Archivist often working hard to keep up providing him with assignments as he completed each allocated task so promptly! He was already well acquainted with the archives as in 1964, at the request of Bishop Thomas, he had set up and organised them.

On the occasion of his 60th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood, the late Bishop Patrick Dougherty referred to him as “….a lamp burning brightly, which has by shining example in word and action been a sure beacon, emitting hope and guidance”.

At the time of his death, Mons Grant was a resident of St. Catherine’s in Bathurst which had been his home for a number of years. May he rest in peace.

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