Daniel O’Leary R.I.P.



‘I have arrived:
I’m here.
The destination is in every step.’ Thich Nath Hanh


It is with great sadness we announce the death of Fr Daniel O’Leary who passed away peacefully in the early hours of Monday 21st January.

Since June 2018, he has approached his journey with cancer with deep faith and immense courage. The end came more suddenly than we expected, leaving us shocked and saddened.

He was a very gracious and gifted person and we will all have special memories of him – treasure them.  We are the better for his kindness, his humour, his wisdom  and his undying belief in an incarnate God whose name is Love.

We give thanks for the many ways he has touched our lives. Please remember him and his family in your prayers.


The Journey Man

Chris McDonnell


“I have arrived
 I’m here
 The destination is every step”       Thich Nath Hanh


journey-man, road-travelling companion

whose written word, crafted with care

woke so many mornings with a smile

whose faith was voiced with courage

lived from the humour of an Irish soul,

your destination firm-folded

within each stuttering step.

Walk on.


Your dancing eyes and joy-filled laughter

remain beyond the pain of immediate loss.

We gather the gifts you gave us

wrapped in language, lived through example

touched with tenderness and the compassion

of an open heart.


Gifts now ours to carry and to share,

each on our own Emmaus road,

this way we say goodbye to friends

lost in the drift of countless stars.

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  1. Chris McDonnell says:

    It was through the posting of Seamus Ahearne on ACP that I heard of the passing to the Lord of Daniel O’Leary. During my early years of teaching in Leeds, Daniel was Chaplain to our school. At that time we knew him as Donal.

    Our ways parted and for many years contact was lost until more recently when we picked up the threads again.

    Through our regular exchange of emails Daniel encouraged my own writing and our friendship grew. His writing, both in books and articles-Daniel was a frequent contributor the TABLET-has been an inspiration to many. He had the courage to be adventurous and in fact one of his seminal articles in recent years took as its title ‘Courageous Conversations’

    I will miss his words, his good-hearted banter and his example of vibrant faith. He was a fine man

    May he now rest in the peace of the Lord he served for so many years.

  2. Maire ni Seoige says:

    I feel so blessed to have met Father Donal in this life.
    He was one of God’s guiding Lights!
    May the Good God have mercy on his soul and may Father Donal rest in Peace.


    I met Daniel here in New Zealand in 2005 but it was after visiting him in England in 2010 that we became good friends. I am an artist and he was always very encouraging of my art as I was of his writing. I spent a wonderful day with him at his apartment in Liverpool in 2014.
    I will miss our regular emails. I have saved a lot of them. I was last in touch on 3 January.
    He was a very loving, caring man with a passion for life. I remember saying goodbye to him at the railway station in Liverpool in 2014 and afterwards feeling quite bereft.
    Rest in peace dear Daniel and thank you.

  4. Margaret Oldroyd [Revd] says:

    Like many others, I am saddened at the news of Fr Daniel’s death and yet grateful that this wonderful priest shared his insights, his compassion and his humour with so many. His gentle yet challenging wisdom reached far beyond denominational limits; may he rest in the peace of the love of God. We are the better for knowing him, thanks be to God for him.

  5. Louise Wilson says:

    I can still see the chuckle behind those eyes in the above picture. I will miss this man and his love of life. Thank you Daniel for your inspiration and energy.

  6. anne o'donnell says:

    I will always be grateful for Fr Donal…. and his gentleness, kindness and genuine love of god….what a blessing he was in my life….rest in peace dear friend.

  7. Mary Patricia Mulhall says:

    Daniel O Leary has been such an inspiration to me and many others through his writings, lecture, articles for his wisdom and insight into the wonderful mystery of Incarnation and Grace, bestowed lavishly on us from a bountiful loving God. His latest book, ‘Astonishing Secret’ will be one of the great legacies, not only for now, but for generations after us. May he enjoy the loving presence of that ‘Astonishing Secret of God’s unconditional love’ he so richly deserves. We will miss his reflections. Only yesterday, I listened to his Video clips, not realising he was already gone to his Eternal home. God bless him for all he has left to us.

  8. Róisín O' Reilly says:

    I will miss my dear friend Daniel. I cherished our friendship, his wisdom, insight, inspiration, and encouragement to be courageous…..always. He was a gifted immense presence.

    Show me the stars of love
    Let me gaze upon their infinity….

    To the bright star I offer my heart
    Show me the stars of love
    Show me their possibility

  9. Valerie Lock says:

    Father Daniel O Leary was so special, kind and understanding, overflowing with the love of the Lord he so faithfully served. I am so grateful and blessed to have known him. Rest in Peace.

  10. Cliodhna O Callaghan says:

    My main aim in writing this piece is to request that someone out there who knew this amazing individual and wordsmith could write an obituary to be sent to the Irish Times eg opinion@irishtimes.com
    So many people need to read about his vision . Personally he was the catalyst for me to see the bigger picture and I can never ever thank him enough.

  11. Jeannette Dale says:

    Fr Daniel was a lovely, warm, holy man who radiated God’s love to all who knew him. I am so grateful and feel very privileged to have attended retreats that he led. For me he wonderfully reflected the love of God, filling me with joy and hope. Thank you, Fr Daniel. May you rest in peace.

  12. Ann Fowler says:

    Daniel was gracious enough to come many times to our diocese to work with our teachers. He became a friend whose passion for his work inspired us all. He was gentle and compassionate and his words gave everyone hope. He will be missed by all who had contact with him and personally I will miss his optimistic belief and his ability to bring faith alive.

  13. Brigid Murphy says:

    Thank you Daniel for many years of sharing wisdom. I first met Daniel 25 years ago but came to know him more personally when I worked in Leeds. His ability to harvest wisdom from so many sources and share it in such a way that it spoke to us where we were was always so refreshing for the soul. I am amazed at how he kept in touch through email with so many friends. You were one in a million Daniel and I will miss you but I treasure lovely memories and your books on my bedside table will continue to inspire.

    Rest In Peace Daniel and know that your heart prints have travelled far and herein Melbourne many people are touched by your writings.

    Fondly remembered, Brigid

  14. amanda clancy says:

    Weren’t we so lucky to have known him?

  15. Patricia St George OP says:

    I would like to pay tribute to Daniel, by repeating, what Deirdre,
    ( a past pupil ) said when I told her that Daniel had died : ” He is a modern day prophet. “

  16. Eileen Clear says:

    I met Fr Donal at a retreat some years ago. His words and example transformed my understanding of the Incarnation. May he rest in peace and may he be richly rewarded for his compassion and wisdom which he so generously shared. ( Some of my posts to this site in the past were influenced by his teaching).

  17. Dermot Layden says:

    It is with great sadness that I have learned of Fr. Daniel’s passing. May he rest in peace. I met him in person quite a number of years ago, when he addressed the Elphin Diocesan (Ireland) annual pastoral gathering. I had the privilege of having many communications with him since then (mainly by email). He wrote beautifully and had a wonderful turn of phrase. He was very kind to me in his complimentary and supportive comments on my book writings. He told me last year in an email of his cancer diagnosis, and that the road ahead would not be easy. May the Good Lord take care of this kind and gentle soul!
    And our deepest sympathy to all his bereaved family, relatives and friends. With Fr. Daniel, let us remember them all in our prayers.
    With kind regards, Dermot Layden, Sligo, Ireland

  18. Phil Smith says:

    I was fortunate enough for my path to cross twice with Father Daniel O’Leary: he was the chaplain of St Mary’s Strawberry Hill when I was a student there. His good humour and pastoral care were excellent. His sermons really hit the mark.
    When I was a headteacher of a Catholic school I came across his work Begin With the Heart: this had a profound impact and I was fortunate to attend a weekend at Swanick Hall, Derbyshire, when he led an exploration of sacramental imagination – this opened up so many new vistas of an inclusive Catholicism that felt so much more Christian than some things I’d heard from the church. I always thoroughly enjoyed his writing in The Tablet. Indeed, the one he wrote on 28 June 2008, “Home before dark”, I used at my own father’s funeral – “And if, one of these summer evenings, you faintly hear again your mother’s voice calling you in because the night is coming, your eyes will start to shine because, as the house of heaven draws ever closer, you will recognise it, with astonishment, as the home you never left”.
    Father Daniel will, I am sure, be revelling in the home he never left. I thank God for people such as he in our church and will continue to be inspired by his writing. May he rest in peace … but with his characteristic mirth.

  19. bernard Howell says:

    Fr Daniel, who I met and listened to during his Advent retreats at Hawkestone Pastoral Centre, had a prfound impact on my grow in faith with comments like,”when you get it (the theology of nature and grace) everything changes”. God Bless.

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