Rev. Leonard N. Banas, C.S.C.

Rev. Leonard N. Banas, C.S.C.
Nov. 6, 1926 – Aug. 22, 2018

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Rev. Leonard Norbert Banas, C.S.C., 91, died at Notre Dame, Ind. on August 22.

Watch Fr. Leonard’s Memorial Mass via YouTube

He was born on Nov. 6, 1926, to Stanley and Julia (Purchla) Banas in Chicago, Ill. After graduating from Holy Trinity High School in 1944, he entered Holy Cross Seminary. The next year he made his novitiate in Rolling Prairie and professed First Vows Aug. 16, 1946. After three years at Moreau Seminary, he graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in philosophy in 1949 and professed Final Vows on Aug. 16, 1949. Fr. Banas went to Rome, where he studied theology at the Gregorian and received a licentiate in 1953.

Fr. Banas was ordained on Dec. 20, 1952, in the church of San Marcello in Rome, Italy. After an additional year of studies at the University of Rome, when he was also Chaplain at Notre Dame High School, Fr. Banas was assigned to teach at Holy Cross Seminary (1954-1956) and Moreau Seminary (1956-1957).

Fr. Banas studied at Princeton from 1957 to 1960. He earned a master’s degree in classics from Princeton in 1961. He was assigned to St. Joseph’s Hall at Notre Dame, while continuing to teach at Moreau and Holy Cross Seminary from 1961 to 1962. He was Assistant Superior at St. Joseph Hall from 1962 to 1967; and Superior from 1967 to 1973. Fr. Banas taught at Notre Dame from 1973 to 1980 and was Rector at Pangborn Hall. He was chair of the classical languages department as well. He served as the Superior at Corby Hall from 1980 to 1985 and Assisted at Notre Dame starting in 1986. He was Assistant Superior at Corby Hall from 1997 to 2012 and served as an Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Letters.

Fr. Banas also assisted for more than 25 years at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Elkhart, Ind.

Preceding him in death are his parents, Stanley and Julia, and his brothers Edward, Chester, Valerian, and Rev. James T. Banas, C.S.C. He is survived by his sisters, Ann (Alfred) Parme and Elizabeth Cella.

Visitation will be from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 26, 2018 at Moreau Seminary, Notre Dame, Ind., where there will be a Wake Service at 7:30 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus on Monday, August 27, 2018 at 3:30 p.m. Burial will be in the community cemetery at Notre Dame. Kaniewski Funeral Home, South Bend, is in charge of the arrangements.

Memorial contributions in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross can be made to: United States Province of Priests and Brothers, Office of Development, P.O. Box 765, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0765 or online at

Wake Eulogyby Rev. Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C.
Aug. 26, 2018

He rarely missed morning prayer in Corby Chapel, and if he did we worried about where he was. His absence might be for a doctor’s appointment, but then he was getting older, even though he was in better physical condition than many of us who were considerably younger. Whenever he walked into chapel I thought he did not really walk, he fell forward with determination and zeal for the people whom God created that he was in position to help out. Len served well the University of Notre Dame as a teacher of Classic Languages for many years, as an assistant dean after he had retired from teaching, and as religious superior of Corby Hall for the customary six-year term of office. He was a pillar of the Holy Cross Community, and he could have taken his well-deserved rest. However, falling forward with zeal, Len went out to the parish in Buchanan and then to St. Thomas in Elkhart for weekend masses and preaching for innumerable years. I think his heart was more devoted to the priestly ministry with the ordinary folks of the parish than it was academics. When he had gone to Princeton University for some graduate study, he came to recognize that he was not going to be at the top of his class in the intellectual life. However, he was at the top of his class in the pastoral life of a priest with extraordinary sensitivity for the predicaments of others who were vulnerable. Len had big working-man hands, and they were filled with the people he befriended and protected with a big heart. I think he had a special kindness for women whom he came to know were in a tough situation.

My favorite story of Len’s relates to his experience after one Sunday Mass at St. Thomas Parish in Elkhart. A lady asked to speak to him. She said his homilies were too long, and the parishioners were not used to that. And, moreover, his homilies were over their heads and too difficult. Len paused and asked: “Other than that, they are okay?” But, he took her words to heart.

Len was a pioneer in contemporary spirituality. He went on retreats wherever the action was. He tried out “transcendental meditation” and “sensitivity training.” He wanted to enhance his ministry by whatever effort and prayer initiative he could devote himself to doing.

The following quoted texts I wish to read as tribute to Len. I think you will agree that the lines recall Len to mind.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
And remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
Be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly,
And listen to others,

Even the dull and the ignorant;
They too have their story.
Excerpted from Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”

“To laugh often and much. To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children. To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of friends. To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others. To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
From the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Holy Cross Community regularly elected Len to represent us at Provincial Chapters, including the one in June of this year. We admired him for so many reasons. In particular, his care for his younger brother in his last days at Holy Cross House spoke of Len and the bigheartedness we knew in so many other ways. We have lost a good man, a good priest, a good brother in Holy Cross. We thank God for lending him to us for so many years, and we pray this evening that God be good to him just as Len was good to us, so very good to us.

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