By Fr Pat Baker
Fr Timothy Leonard was ordained in 1918 for the Diocese of Limerick, Ireland, and joined the newly-established Society of St Columban that year. He was in the first group of Columbans to be assigned to China in 1920. He worked with Columban Co-founder Fr Edward Galvin for four years in Hanyang where Fr Galvin became the first bishop in 1927. Then he was assigned to Ireland in 1924 for two years of mission appeal work. He became a well-known figure, riding his bicycle from parish to parish in all kinds of weather.
Father Tim returned to Hanyang in 1926 and in 1928 was a member of the first group of Columbans to go to Nancheng where Columban Fr Patrick Cleary became the first bishop in 1938. While saying Mass there on the morning of 17 July 1929 a group of Communist bandits stormed into the church and attacked Fr Leonard. His vestments were torn off him, the ciborium with consecrated hosts was snatched from his hands and the hosts scattered on the floor and trampled on.