Leon Reymond Jr. to receive Pope John Paul II Award from Catholic Foundation
When Leon J. Reymond Jr. was a young attorney in 1970, he met Archbishop Philip Hannan and came away deeply impressed with “his Irish smile and his simplicity.”
But what really inspired him was Archbishop Hannan’s passion to serve
the poor, as manifested by his establishment four years earlier of the Social Apostolate, which was an outreach to the broader community by the Archdiocese of New Orleans through the Summer WITNESS program for children and a network of community centers in the neediest areas of the city.
Reymond’s job – if he decided to accept it, which, of course, he did – was to find a way to pay for Archbishop Hannan’s dreams.
Decades of service lauded
More than 40 years later, Reymond will be honored by the Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of New Orleans Nov. 18 with the Pope John Paul II Award for his leadership, among many other church and charitable activities, with the Archbishop’s Community Appeal (ACA).
“Archbishop Hannan was a non-institutional guy,” Reymond said. “He saw a need, and he got some people together and went out and solved the need. He didn’t ask Catholic Charities to solve the need – he went out and started the Social Apostolate. And then he started the ACA to fund the Social Apostolate.”
Served four archbishops
Reymond was drawn to Archbishop Hannan by his exuberance. The archbishop went across the country, especially to Boston, to recruit seminarians to come to New Orleans to work as teachers and mentors in the WITNESS program. One of those young seminarians was Roger Morin, who later became a priest and auxiliary bishop of New Orleans.
“Archbishop Hannan was great in the way he went out and talked to people about the need,” Reymond said. “He was effective because of his personality.”
Reymond has offered volunteer service and advice to four New Orleans archbishops, including Archbishop Hannan’s three successors – Archbishops Francis Schulte, Alfred Hughes and Gregory Aymond.
Reymond has served on the Archdiocesan Finance Council and been a member of the boards of Catholic Charities, the Catholic Foundation, Manresa House of Retreats, Our Lady of Holy Cross College, the Daughters of Charity, the Academy of the Sacred Heart, Covenant House, St. Mary’s Dominican College, the Serra Club, the St. Francis Xavier Capital Campaign and the Holy Name of Jesus Pastoral Council.
Helped with papal visit
In 1987, he served on the committee that planned the historic visit of Pope John Paul II to New Orleans. He also volunteered with the New Orleans Civil Service Commission, Hotel Dieu Hospital, the Notre Dame Club of New Orleans and the Paul M. Hebert Law Center of Louisiana State University.
The graduate of Catholic High in Baton Rouge, the University of Notre Dame and LSU Law School also is a member of the Notre Dame Senior Alumni Board, St. Francis Xavier Parish and a Knight of St. Gregory and a Knight of Malta.
Reymond said he was among the thousands who walked to Canal Street on Oct. 5 to view the horse-drawn procession with Archbishop Hannan’s body from Notre Dame Seminary to St. Louis Cathedral. His law office at Liskow & Lewis, where he practices corporate and real estate law, is about four blocks away.
“I thought that was wonderful,” Reymond said. “The outpouring of love during the procession was beautiful. It was very, very impressive. The response of the community was very, very warm.”
Reymond said he was surprised when he was informed he would be receiving the Pope John Paul II Award because “I didn’t think what I had done was any better than what a number of people in the archdiocese have done. There are any number of people who are equally or more deserving.”
Praises Catholic Charities
Reymond said the quick response of Catholic Charities after Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill was impressive, noting the efforts of Operation Helping Hands to gut and repair thousands of homes after Katrina and the work of case managers after the oil spill to help needy fishing families.
That perseverance also has been reflected in Reymond’s personal life. He and his wife Terry Failla, a New Orleans native, met when he was a student at Notre Dame and she was studying at St. Mary’s College in South Bend. They have been married for 45 years. He has worked at Liskow & Lewis for 42 years.
“I like to joke with people that I’m on my first job and my first wife,” Reymond said. “I’m truly blessed.”
Reymond said his volunteer service has enriched his life.
“I think by serving the archdiocese and serving the community I was brought into close association with a lot of good people,” Reymond said. “That includes the archbishops, the clergy and the religious, but also the lay employees of the archdiocese. Those people have been wonderful role models who have helped me in my faith.”
The Catholic Foundation dinner will be held Nov. 18 beginning with a social at 6 p.m. at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside. Noted author, TV commentator and recent Catholic convert Mary Matalin will be the keynote speaker. Tickets may be reserved by calling 596-3044.