Looie & Brother Leo

At this time of the year the Insiders Report has always remembered those who have helped us along during the difficult times.

Brother Leo Richard spent most of 65-plus years on this earth inside a darkened room called "The Cave" at Archbishop Molloy in Briarwood, N.Y., listening to men and women, young and old, black and white, the hopeful or depressed, especially around this time of the year.

This can be an especially tough time of the year for those who aren't as fortunate. But Leo would never accept the word "no." He would reach out to the needy and involve other good people in his life to help those he had encountered.

He did so one holiday season after discovering a young man had no money to pay his rent after getting laid off. Leo took the young man on a walk as he usually did. The young man talked and talked. Leo listened and listened.

It's what made Brother Leo so special. And when Leo talked, only positive words would echo from his big chamber. They sometimes sounded like they were coming from above. "Walk with me," Leo shouted. "Keep walking."

Leo loved to walk. And he also loved to talk. He could move rather quickly from subject to subject -- from the Red Sox to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame -- to Molloy's chances of winning a City title.

Leo would talk about the Sox's chances for the following year. He would explode with joy when talking about such great Molloy players like Kenny Smith and Kenny Anderson.

Leo never really got any sympathy regarding the plight of the Red Sox, but usually received some support for Notre Dame and much more for Molloy since many Stanners were among Leo's walking partners.

Leo always kept the walks vibrant and positive. But as Leo moved along Union Turnpike with the distraught youngster, he could see the fear in the man's eyes. The young man had fear for a reason. It was only five years earlier, after suffering a layoff, he had spent three weeks, moving on and off the "E" train to grab some sleep and shelter.

"I don't want to go back on the train," the youngster said to Leo. "I don't know what to do."

"Keep walking with me," Leo shouted in his friendly voice. They continued. In their sights was the campus of St. John's University, a place with which Leo was very familiar. It sits only a few miles away from Molloy High School.

Leo led the young man inside the athletic office at Alumni Hall. He stopped outside the basketball office. "Stay here," Leo said. The young man, puzzled, stood still while Leo walked into then St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca's office.

The young man waited outside for about 20 minutes. Leo's voice, normally booming and audible from about 100 yards away, was silent and could not be heard out in the hall by the young man. Then Leo came outside and in his hands were several dollars. He quickly gave it to the young man. "Take this," Leo said. "This should help out."

"Where did you get this?" the young man asked. "I can't say," Leo said. "Maybe another time I will tell you. But he didn't want you to know. Just take it and take care of yourself."

It was several years later when Leo told the young man who helped him. So at this time of the year, it's important to remember those little gestures that are bigger than life and so very symbolic during the holiday.

So as I look skyward today, I thank Brother Leo. And a shout out to Coach Lou Carnesecca. Thanks!

Happy Holidays. Have a safe and peaceful New Year.

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