Father Leo Tibesar, social justice activist, dead at 74

Fr. Leo Tibesar. Photo courtesy of the Star-Tribune

Father Leo J. Tibesar, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and longtime pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Minneapolis died on Aug. 31. He was 74.

According to The Catholic Spirit, the archdiocesan newspaper, Fr. Leo was pastor at St. Frances Cabrini from 1994 until his retirement in 2011. He also served as Chaplain at Fairview Riverside and University of Minnesota Hospitals from 1987 to 2012.

Fr. Leo was ordained in a ordination class of 18 seminarians in 1968. His classmate, Fr. Stephen Adrian, who gave the homily at Fr. Leo’s funeral on Sept. 11, said, “Leo was the kind of guy who would take a public stand on things.”

Father Adrian remembered his friend as a pro-life advocate and early supporter of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, an advocate for farm workers and activist against the Vietnam War, and for his ministry to LGBT Catholics.

During the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s Fr. Leo was involved with Services to Persons with AIDS (SPA) and the direct services component of the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP). He also helped organize the interdenominational response to the epidemic.

He also took on a leadership role with the National Catholic AIDS Network until it ceased operation in 2007.

During the 2006 NFPC Annual Convention in Minneapolis, Fr. Leo acted as Parliamentarian as the organization discussed by-law changes that were eventually enacted in 2008.

May Fr. Leo’s soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, Rest in Peace!

For The Catholic Spirit (Sept. 14, 2017) report, click here.

For the Star-Tribune obituary, click here.