By Eileen Jevis/ SUN staff writer
Deacon Bernard Heizman Remembers his Brother at Mass of Christian Burial
Family, friends, fellow priests and religious gathered on Friday, Sept. 24 at a Mass of Christian burial for Father Leo J. Heizman who died on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2004 at the age of 61. Bishop Thomas J. Costello presided at the Mass along with dozens of priest concelebrants and deacons, including Father Heizman’s brother, Deacon Bernard Heizman. Sister Nadine Heizman, OSF, Father Heizman’s sister, proclaimed the New Testament reading while Deacon Heizman proclaimed the Gospel and gave the homily.
Father Heizman was born May 30, 1943, the son of the late Bernard and Rose Heizman. He graduated from Onondaga Central High School and entered Christ the King Seminary in Olean, N.Y. He was ordained on May 17, 1969. Father Heizman’s first assignment was at St. Lucy’s in Syracuse, where he was associate pastor and principal. He then served as associate pastor at Immaculate Conception in Fayetteville. In 1977, Father Heizman joined the faculty of Bishop Grimes School and then served at Bishop Cunningham High School in Oswego. He was Pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea in Mexico and then returned to Bishop Grimes in 1990 to serve as principal of the school.
After serving a year at Our Lady of Pompei Parish in 1994, Father Heizman moved to St. Matthew’s Parish in East Syracuse as associate pastor. Special assignments included serving as chaplain at Crouse Hospital and for the Dewitt Police Department as well as the Newman Center at Central City Business Institute. During his homily, Deacon Heizman talked about how many lives Father Heizman had affected with his kindness. “My sisters and I have found out over the last few days just how many lives Leo has touched over the last 35 years,” said Deacon Heizman. The New Testament reading 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8 speaks of love. “That reading was one of Leo’s favorites,” said Deacon Heizman. “An example of that love is the story of a young boy named Billy. Billy wandered the streets near St. Lucy’s at the age of three or four. One day, my brother was leaving the rectory and Billy was standing outside the rectory. My brother said to him, ‘What are you doing?’ Billy started to talk and my brother sat down on the step to listen –– and there began a friendship.”
Deacon Heizman shared with the congregation the special bond between that young boy and his brother. “Leo had such a gift of love and we know he got back so much in return,” said Deacon Heizman. He read a letter, found among the boxes of his brother’s belongings, from a parishioner expressing her admiration and love for Father Heizman. “You are our friend, our peer, our brother,” Deacon Heizman read. “You brought a spark of life that will shine on in our hearts.” “Leo, mom and dad must be so excited to have you in heaven,” said Deacon Heizman. “Be good to us in what you tell them about us. And Leo, after 35 years of priestly service, you see not distinctly in a mirror, but face to face, your boss. He must be saying to you, ‘My good and faithful loving servant, welcome home.’”
Father Heizman is survived by his brother, Deacon Bernard Heizman; five sisters, Sister Nadine Heizman OSF, Catherine (Timothy) Fahey, Bernadette (Keith) Mayotte, Jean Marie Heizman, Therese (Curt) Brown; his foster son, John Ott and several nieces and nephews. Memorial contributions may be made in Father Leo Heizman’s name to Francis House or Sisters of St. Francis retirement fund. Those wishing to leave the family a note of condolence may do so at www.newcomerfamily.com.