History

St. Leo’s Parish was founded in 1887.  In 1887 the first Bishop of Scranton, the Most Rev. William O’Hara saw the need for a new parish in Wyoming Valley between the towns of Wilkes-Barre and Sugar Notch.  The new parish would be carved out of the Wilkes-Barre parish of St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception and would be centered in Ashley Borough an important railroad point and mining town.  On December 4, 1887 the first mass in St. Leo’s Parish was celebrated on an improvised altar in the hall of the Ashley Schoolhouse.  The new parish was small but vital and under the leadership of Father Hoban, it planned a purpose for its future.  Walter O’Malley was contracted for its building.  On June 1, 1890 the cornerstone for the new church was laid by Bishop O’Hara and several priests.  Within six months, the basement church was ready for service.  The new rectory on Manhattan Street was completed within two year and Father Hoban moved into it on July 16, 1893.  It is still in use today.  Construction of the main church began in 1896, and by March of 1897 the new church of St. Leo’s was completed.  On  June 6 the new church was dedicated and its altar consecrated.  A pontifical mass was offered by a papal delegate.

The current pastor of St. Leo’s is Rev. Thomas J. O’Malley of Scranton.  He was appointed pastor of St. Leo’s on September 5, 1989.  He pursued his studies of the priesthood at the University of Scranton and St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland.  Father O’Malley received a B.A. in Philosophy, Bachelor of Sacred Theology and M. Div. while attending St. Mary’s.  He also obtained an M.S. in Religious Education and an M.A. in counseling from Marywood College in Scranton.  He then pursued advanced studies in Educational Administration.