The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

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The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

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Leo Daly, S.J., Former Campus Ministry Director and Alumni Chaplain, Dies at 93

Beloved by those whose lives he touched while serving the Fordham Community, Daly is remembered for his illuminating spirit and compassion to the Church
Daly was a former director of Campus Ministry, alumni chaplain and a guiding light throughout Fordham’s religious community.
COURTESY OF FORDHAM NEWS
Daly was a former director of Campus Ministry, alumni chaplain and a guiding light throughout Fordham’s religious community.

Leo Daly, S.J., Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) ’56, passed away on Jan. 14 at the age of 93 at Murray-Weigel Hall, a Jesuit Resident Community at Fordham University. Daly was a former director of Campus Ministry, alumni chaplain and a guiding light throughout Fordham’s religious community.

According to Fordham News, Daly battled salivary gland cancer and a bout of pneumonia before his passing.

Susan Mallie, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’87, shared that she first met Daly at the Fordham University Church on a Sunday at 10 p.m. Mass in 1983, where he asked her to fill in for a lector that evening. From then on, she regularly attended his service as an undergraduate student, and added that she was inspired to continue pursuing her faith.

“A few weeks ago, I followed Leo’s coffin down that same aisle as I left the church after his funeral Mass and I thought to myself ‘We met in this exact spot and now we’ve come full circle to say goodbye,’” she said.

Born on July 29, 1930, in Brooklyn, New York, Daly was raised by his father, Joseph Daly, and mother, Margaret McGowan Daly. Daly completed his early education at Brooklyn Preparatory High School, a Jesuit school in Williamsburg, and entered the Society of Jesus in 1948 at the age of 18.

Following his high school graduation, Daly attended Columbia University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in counseling psychology, before coming to Fordham GSAS to pursue a Masters of Arts. He was later ordained as a priest at the Fordham University Church in 1961.

Daly spread Jesuit beliefs and values throughout the New York metropolitan area. He became an assistant principal at St. Peter’s Prep and rector at St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, New Jersey from 1963-1966 and 2002-2007, he then served as an administrator at Loyola Seminary in Shrub Oak, New York 3 years later.. 

Outside of his administrative roles, Daly was also a counselor at Regis High School on the Upper East Side and Xavier High School in Union Square — both in Manhattan, New York, a staff member and director of the St. Ignatius Retreat House in Long Island from 1988-1999; a campus minister at the University of Guam from 2000-2002 and a chaplain at a U.S. Army missile range from 2007-2009 in the Marshall Islands.

“Every time Father Daly came into our Campus Ministry office, he was simply a ray of sunshine,”Beth Tarpey Evans, FCRH ’84

Daly returned to Fordham to serve as the director of Campus Ministry at Rose Hill from 1980-87, after completing a well-earned sabbatical from 1979-1980. After serving as the director of Campus Ministry, Daly devoted his time both as an assistant alumni chaplain from 2015-19 — during which he connected with the Fordham University alumni community — as well as the chaplain to the women’s basketball team from 2017-19.

“Every time Father Daly came into our Campus Ministry office, he was simply a ray of sunshine,” Beth Tarpey Evans, FCRH ’84, said about her time working with the Father in Campus Ministry. He (Daly) lifted the mood of the room wherever he went and people were drawn to him.” 

Evans worked alongside Daly in Campus Ministry during her undergraduate studies at Fordham, and recalled the positivity and joy he brought to the office. It was well known that Daly was understanding of his students involved in the Jesuit tradition at Fordham University as he made every effort to connect and understand his students.

“I think when you are a young person, there is a lot of disconnect and times with grown-ups not knowing what our lives are like and if they were my age, they still would not understand me,” she said. “Daly made it apparent that he did not know what we were going through, but he knew who we were and made us feel seen in living our faith.”

“Leo had an innate empathy – be it to share a laugh or patiently listen to a heartbreak,”Susan Mallie, FCRH ’87

Catherine McGovern, FCRH ’81, was a frequent attendee at Daly’s church and prayer services upon her start at Fordham in 1977. She befriended Evans and the pair remain in touch to this day. 

McGovern remembered Daly as “being a friend first and priest second”. She also shared the gratitude she felt toward Daly as he continued to be an influence in her life — Daly officiated the marriage between McGovern and her husband, as well as their children’s marriages to their spouses. Daly was known to stay in touch with those he met through Rose Hill’s Campus Ministry.

Mallie echoed McGovern’s sentiment and held onto the same gratitude toward Daly as he continued to support and comfort her throughout life, especially in the aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. At the time, Mallie was based in New York City, and Daly was in Guam, when he emailed her to inquire about her well-being. 

“Daly made it apparent that he did not know what we were going through, but he knew who we were and made us feel seen in living our faith.”Beth Tarpey Evans, FCRH ’84

“Leo had an innate empathy – be it to share a laugh or patiently listen to a heartbreak,” Mallie said. “That gentle touch was his greatest gift.”

According to Mallie, she had received an envelope from Daly weeks after the attacks that contained a collection of religious materials distributed in the days following the attacks from priests, rabbis and imams. 

“It was an astounding study which in typical broad-minded Leo fashion, went far beyond the boundaries of his own faith,” she said. “I still have that package. It’s one of my most treasured possessions.” 

McGovern, who is a practicing OB-GYN at White Plains Hospital in New York, also shared moments when she relied on Daly’s words to help her through personal challenges, such as the apprehension she felt when her medical oral boards were approaching. 

She added that Daly helped her “recenter” herself and added that following her graduation from Albany Medical College, Daly took her out for a lobster dinner on City Island in the Bronx. 

Daly’s wake was held at Murray-Weigel Hall on Jan. 19, with a Mass taking place the following morning and a burial in the Jesuit Cemetery in Auriesville, New York soon after. 

Gifts in his name may be made to the Leo Daly, S.J., Scholarship Fund, a fund processed by Fordham University.

Alexa Villatoro contributed additional reporting to this story.



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GABRIELLA GUTIERREZ, Assistant News Editor
Gabriella Gutierrez (she/her), FCLC ’26, is an assistant news editor at The Observer. She is majoring in political science on the pre-law track with an interest in journalism. She enjoys being on the Jersey Shore, losing her voice at Yankees games and blasting ABBA.

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