George Leo Leech was born May 21, 1890, at Ashley, Pennsylvania, the son of William Dillon and Helen Mary (Fitzsimons) Leech. He was educated at the Seminary of Saint Charles Borromeo, Overbrook, Philadelphia.
Most Reverend George L. Leech
“Non Nobis Domine” (Not to Us, O Lord) – Psalm 113
Most Reverend George L. Leech
Fifth Bishop of Harrisburg
After his ordination by Denis Cardinal Dougherty of Philadelphia on May 29, 1920, he pursued postgraduate studies at the Catholic University of America and was awarded a doctorate in Canon Law.
As a young priest, Father Leech served as Secretary at the Apostolic Delegation in Washington and later became pastor of Saint Patrick’s Church, Pottsville. Following appointment as Titular Bishop of Mela and Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg, he was consecrated in Philadelphia on October 17, 1935. Bishop Leech was appointed to the See of Harrisburg on December 19, 1935 upon the death of Bishop McDevitt. He was named assistant at the papal throne on May 12, 1957.
Bishop Leech retired in 1971 and received the appointment of Titular Bishop of Allegheny. He continued to reside at the Bishops’ residence until his death in March 1985. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Harrisburg.
Following the death of Bishop McDevitt in November 1935, his auxiliary, Bishop George L. Leech, was appointed as the fifth Ordinary. His administration was a period of dramatic increase in the Catholic population: 183,000 souls served by 259 priests and more than 1,000 religious sisters.
The growth of diocesan administration under Bishop Leech resulted in the appointment of Monsignor Lawrence F. Schott as Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg in 1956. He served until his death in 1963.
To meet the increasing needs of the diocesan Church, several apostolates, and commissions were formed, such as Apostolate for Migrant Workers in 1955 and the diocesan Liturgical Commission in 1964. Bishop Leech attended all sessions of Vatican Council II.
Following the close of the Council, he moved swiftly to implement the conciliar decrees. He established a Liturgical Commission, an Ecumenical Commission, a Priests’ Advisory Council and a diocesan School Board. Many diocesan lay societies were organized. Several diocesan administrative offices opened or expanded, including Catholic Charities, Tribunal, Religious, Vocations and the Catholic Witness newspaper.
Delone, York, Lourdes and Trinity High Schools opened, as well as Holy Spirit Hospital. Both Conewago and Saint Mary’s, Lancaster, celebrated their 200th anniversaries. Following a quiet observance of the 75th anniversary of the diocese in 1943 during World War II, the diocese observed its 100th anniversary with a large celebration in Hershey and publication of a diocesan history book in 1968.
In 1971, Bishop Leech submitted his resignation as Ordinary of the diocese to Pope Paul VI. He was then named Titular Bishop of Allegheny, an historic See in Western Pennsylvania. In retirement, Bishop Leech resided in the Bishops’ Residence with Bishop Daley and Bishop Keeler, his successors.
Following a brief illness, Bishop Leech died March 12, 1985, at the age of 94. John Cardinal Krol was celebrant and Bishop Keeler was homilist for the funeral Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral on March 16. Burial followed at Holy Cross Cemetery, Harrisburg.
Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg, 1956-1963
“Diligite Alterutrum” (Love One Another)
Most Reverend Lawrence F Schott
Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg
Lawrence Francis Schott was born in Philadelphia on July 26, 1907, the son of Thomas and Emma (Hofer) Schott.
Following the death of his father, his mother married Adam Mayan of Danville. The family resided in Danville and belonged to the German parish of Saint Hubert’s.Lawrence Schott was educated at Saint Vincent Preparatory School, College and Seminary, Latrobe, PA. He was ordained to the priesthood in Harrisburg by Bishop McDevitt on June 15, 1935.
Father Schott served as assistant at Holy Trinity, Columbia, and Saint Patrick, Carlisle. He was principal of Harrisburg Catholic High School and pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mount Carmel. Father Schott was made a Domestic Prelate (Monsignor) on November 18, 1952.
Following his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg on March 1, 1956, Bishop Schott was consecrated by Bishop Leech at Saint Patrick Cathedral. Bishop Schott attended the first session of the Second Vatican Council. Following a rapidly progressing illness, Bishop Schott died March 11, 1963, and was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Harrisburg.
Auxiliary Bishop and Coadjutor Bishop of Harrisburg
Father Daley was appointed Titular Bishop of Barca and Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg on November 27, 1963. The Holy See announced the appointment of Bishop Daley as Coadjutor Bishop of Harrisburg with right of succession on July 31, 1967. (cf. canon 403 §3).