Eulogy given by
Br. Anthony Flynn, FSC

De La Salle Hall,
October 12, 2010

leoMichelsBrother Leo was born in Detroit, Michigan, on January 24, 1928, to Mr. and Mrs. Andre Michiels. He was their only child and was christened in the local parish with the name Paul. He attended the parish school located in downtown Detroit where he developed a fondness for the Detroit Tigers.

Upon graduation, he enrolled at St. Joseph’s High School located on Jay Street which was run by the Christian Brothers. While attending high school, he worked part time at the soda fountain in Hudson’s department store. His access to free ice cream may explain his love of ice cream in his adult years! He greatly enjoyed the school and the Brothers who taught there. At the end of his freshman year, he felt that he had a vocation to the Brothers and entered the Juniorate at Barrytown. One of his favorite stories was of his trip from Detroit to New York City, accompanied by one of the Brothers from St. Joe’s, and then on to Barrytown. He often referred to this trip as his introduction to the Big Apple.

At Barrytown he joined a group of young men, all interested in becoming Brothers. Most of the students there were from New York City and thought anyone coming from Michigan and rooting for the Tigers must be from a farm, so he was nicknamed “Zeke,” a name he enjoyed among some of the Brothers.

Leo enjoyed school work, the prayer life, and the sports activities of the Juniorate, particularly baseball, where his mighty left swing was well known.

After graduation from the Juniorate in June of 1946, he entered the Novitiate along with his classmates and several other young men, including several World War Two veterans. On September 7th, he received the habit of the Christian Brothers and a new name, Brother Cyril Leo. The novitiate year was probably the only year he wasn’t able to follow the Detroit Tigers. After finishing the year of the novitiate, he took his first vows and moved on to the scholasticate in Washington, DC. There Leo spent three years and majored in chemistry, but like many of his contemporaries, he did not finish his degree work.

Leo’s first assignment was to St. Raymond’s grade school under the Directorship and Principalship of Brother Alban Aloysius. Leo enjoyed his stay there and, in later years, regaled his confreres with stories about his days on Benson Street. While teaching grade school, he completed his academic work for his BA at Manhattan, and began work on a Master’s Degree in mathematics.

Leo’s next assignment was at CBA in Syracuse. Here he had a chance to teach chemistry and work with the JV baseball team. Leo completed his work for an MA in Mathematics during the summer months at Manhattan. He also took up golf and had many great stories about the golfing exploits of himself and his CBA confreres. His impact on the students there was clearly seen in the invitations back to Syracuse for the 25th year graduation celebrations from his former students.

Leo’s next move was back to his old high school, St. Joe’s on Jay Street in downtown Detroit and close to Tiger Stadium. Here Leo enjoyed teaching chemistry, coaching JV baseball and using the passes the Brothers had to the Tigers’ baseball games. He also was close to family and friends. Due to the decline of downtown Detroit, St. Joe’s was closed, and Leo was changed to De La Salle Collegiate, a school farther uptown. While teaching there, he enrolled at the University of Detroit for a Masters Degree in Chemistry. Upon completion of his MA, he was encouraged by the chemistry faculty to enroll in the PhD program. While teaching full time, taking care of his aging mother, and serving as Director of the community, he completed his doctoral work. Despite all of these cares, he still found time for golf with the Brothers and for Tiger games with some members of the community.

Leo’s next move was to Manhattan College where he joined the chemistry department and the Lloyd Hall community at West Hill. At the college, he became an active member of his department and a talented and much loved teacher by his students. While living in the Lloyd Hall community, he accepted the job of shopping for the community and keeping both the cook and the Brothers happy. He continued this job joyfully until the community was closed. During the last few years, age had slowed him down, but he continued to be of service to his Brothers.

Besides chemistry, Leo had a great love for music and enjoyed listening to his collection of classical music. He joined the college glee club, the Manhattan Singers, and enjoyed the concert they gave on the campus and those that they performed on their trips to Europe. One of his treasured mementos was a picture of the Singers with Pope John Paul II in Rome. As another Brother, who was also a member of the Singers, recalled that every afternoon on the European tours, Leo would always suggest a stop to sample a good European beer. This Brother also mentioned that Leo was much loved by the students in the Singers, especially in his later years when it was difficult for him to get around. I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Europe with Leo in 1979. Our plane landed in Paris, but we were soon on our way to Brussels and a Brothers’ community there. Having known Leo Michiels for many years, I was surprised to hear him introduce himself to the community as Leo “Mickeels.” At this, he was greeted with open arms by his Belgian confreres.

As a chemistry professor, he was dedicated to the department, the students, and his work as a teacher. His patience in working with students in the lab was part of his charm. He would also work out every problem in the textbook so that he could help his students.

He was a joyful person. Whether it was at a movie or watching English comedies on TV, his hearty laugh could be heard. On the golf course, his left handed game was always one of fun. Just being in his company was a pleasure. Leo Michiels was a great Brother. He was a man of prayer, a dedicated teacher, one who found happiness in helping others, and one who was always willing to lend a hand to help others. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Please pray for the happy repose of the soul of
Br. Leo Michiels, FSC

Born Paul Andre Michiels in Detroit, MI on January 24, 1928

Entered the Barrytown, NY Juniorate on September 2, 1943, and Novitiate in June, 1946

Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Cyril Leo on September 7, 1946

Pronounced Perpetual Vows in in Oakdale, Long Island, NY in 1954.

Brother Leo died at De La Salle Hall on October 9, 2010


Monday, October 11, 2010

Viewing from 2:00 – 4:00 pm and 6:00 – 8:00 pm
De La Salle Hall
810 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft, NJ 07738-1608

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 am
De La Salle Hall
810 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft, NJ 07738-1608

Burial at St. Gabriel’s Cemetery, Marlboro, NJ


District: 100 masses
Christian Brothers Academy community: 30 masses
Each community in the District: 1 mass

Brother Leo passed away peacefully in his room at De La Salle Hall after a lengthy illness. May he rest in peace.

Tour of Duty

Bronx, NY
St. Raymond’s H S

Syracuse, NY
Christian Brothers Academy

Detroit, MI
St. Joseph H S

Detroit, MI
De La Salle Collegiate H S

Professor of Chemistry
Bronx, NY
Manhattan College

Lincroft, NJ
De La Salle Hall

May the soul of Brother Leo, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.