A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Fr Leo McAteer sm

Fr Leo McAteer sm

Born in Timaru, 8 September 1932

Professed 2 February 1952

Ordained 15 July 1956

Died in Timaru, 2 November 2016

Thanks to Fr Conrad Bryant sm, for this edited version of his eulogy, given at Sacred Heart Church, Timaru, on 7 November.

Leo Thomas McAteer was the eldest of a family of four children, one boy and three girls. He spent his early life in Timaru. The first three years of his secondary schooling were at St Patrick’s High School, Timaru,  and his last year of secondary schooling was at St Bede’s College, Christchurch. Along with eighteen other students, he entered Greenmeadows seminary in 1950.

Leo worked diligently at his studies and at all the tasks the seminary students were called upon to perform. His best efforts were made when he was in charge of particular projects.

Leo was ordained in Timaru by Bishop Edward Joyce, Bishop of Christchurch at that time. He started his apostolate in teaching at St. Bede’s College in 1957. Like most new teachers he worked very hard at his duties and had successes and failures as did everyone else. His next appointment was to St Patrick’s College, Wellington. While there, he gained a Bachelor’s degree in English and History. His dedication to teaching and coaching sport was absolute.

Leo’s first essay into missionary work began with his appointment to the newly established Catholic secondary boarding school, Chanel College, in Moamoa, Samoa, in 1965. I remember him well there, and that the students had great respect for him.

Leo returned to New Zealand in 1968 with a real desire to do more mission work. He ministered in Samoa and other parts of Oceania from July 1970 and worked diligently in many Pacific Island areas. He was chaplain to Samoan residents in and around San Francisco, and worked in parishes in Hawaii for some years.

In 1993 Leo returned to New Zealand and worked in various Parishes in the Christchurch diocese. He was very happy spending eight years as Parish Priest in North Canterbury at Cheviot. Finally, he concluded his apostolic work in Pleasant Point in 2011, when he began suffering from dementia.

In all his priestly work, Leo was at his best when he was in charge and was able to organise matters in ways that appealed to him, so as to get the best results out of the situations in which he was placed.

Leo took the gospel with him in his priesthood. He did what he could to share the gospel both in what he said and did, and in the way he lived his life. He didn’t do it perfectly – none of us does. He did it to honour his commitment as a Christian and a Marist and a priest.

We honour Leo and his commitment. We come to take him to his final place of rest, to thank God for Leo and to pray for him. We respect Leo as a hard worker, dedicated to the service of God, Mary the Mother of Jesus, and his parishioners.


1957 - 1960 St Bede's College, Christchurch

1961 - 1964 St Patrick's College, Wellington

1965 - 1967 Chanel College, Samoa

1968 to May St Augustine's College, Wanganui

1968 May - 1969 St Bede's College, Christchurch

Jan 1970 on loan to Oceania for 5 years

1970 - 1971 Lepua parish, Samoa

1971 - 1972 Falealupo parish, Samoa

1973 - 1974 Lotofaga parish, Samoa - transferred to Oceania Province

1975 - 1977 Lefaga parish, Samoa

1978 - 1979 EAPI, Manila

1979 - 1982 Niue Island, parish

1983 San Francisco, USA: ministry to
Samoans, resided at All Hallows

1988 - 1989 Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii, USA

1990 Transferred to San Francisco Province

1990 - 1993 Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii - Pastor & Superior

28 September 1993, transferred back to New Zealand Province

On loan to the Bishop of Christchurch

Assistant Priest, Greymouth parish

1994 - 1998 New Brighton, Christchurch as Parish Priest

1999 - 2007 St Anthony's, Cheviot
as Parish Priest

2008 - 2011 Pleasant Point parish

2012 - Wallingford Rest Home, Temuka



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