Assignment Record Bishop Leonard Philip Cowley

Summary of Case: Leonard P. Cowley was ordained for the St. Paul archdiocese in 1938. He was longtime assistant at a St. Paul parish before being assigned in 1949 as pastor of another, in Minneapolis. Cowley held numerous chancery positions. He was elevated to Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul in January 1958. From 1963 until his death in August 1973, Cowley was pastor of St. Mary's Co-Cathedral in Minneapolis.

Cowley's name was among 17 made public February 11, 2015 of clergy with accusations against them of sexual abuse or misconduct with a minor in the archdiocese. A man is reported to have filed a claim that Cowley sexually abused him during a trip to northern Minnesota in 1968, when the man was a 15-year-old boy.

Ordained: June 4, 1938
Ordained Bishop: January 29, 1958
Died: August 18, 1973



Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


St. Paul archbishop was John Gregory Murray (1931-1956).

1949 St. Andrew's

St. Paul

MN 2/2

St. Andrew's had a school with 471-392 students.

The 1946-1949 Directories index Cowley as at St. Andrew's, but he is not listed as there in the St. Paul diocesan pages.


1957 Archdiocesan Commission on Church Music St. Paul MN    


Murray was succeeded by William Otterwell Brady (1956-1961), followed by Leo Binz (1961-1975).

The archdiocese's name was changed to St. Paul and Minneapolis July 11, 1966.

1963 St. Olaf's Minneapolis MN 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 Cowley was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul January 29, 1958.
1959 1973 Diocesan Consultors St. Paul MN    
1959 1964 Commission for Sacred Music, Art and Liturgy St. Paul MN Vice-Chairman  
1959 1964 Council of Catholic Men St. Paul MN Director  
1961 1973 Administrative Council St. Paul MN    
1959 1973 Council of Catholic Women St. Paul MN Director  
1963 1973 St. Mary's Co-Cathedral


Cowley was publicly named in February 2015 as having been accused of the sexual abuse of a minor. A man reportedly filed a claim that Cowley sexually abused him during a trip to northern Minnesota in 1968, when the man was a 15-year-old boy.

MN   Cowley died August 18, 1973.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1939-1974)

17 Names of Clergy Accused of Sexual Abuse or Misconduct with Minors Publicly Released For the First Time Today, Jeff Anderson & Associates, February 11, 2015
Identities of Priest Abusers in Twin Cities Archdiocese Increasingly are Going Public, By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune, February 27, 2015



Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Cowley's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on AUgust 12, 2015.