News Articles

​The Many Welcoming Faces of the Leo House

the great window of the leo house

By Jim Sliney Jr.

Chelsea, Manhattan

You enter under a maroon awning into a gray stone building-front, the kind of elegant Manhattan buildings you see in movies. Inside, you see a long wooden front desk, reminiscent of a church pew. This is where you check in to a rare and wonderful lodging – The Leo House.

The Leo House is a Christian “hotel”, which is to say, you can pay to lodge there much like a hotel. But different from hotels you’ve stayed at before, there is a Chapel where Catholic Mass is held daily with Father Ed Conway. Rooms are simple, clean and elegant but unlike most hotels in New York City, there’s a relatively secluded outdoor patio and garden, plus quiet nooks for reading and contemplation. There is a business center, board rooms, and a banquet hall and amenities the likes of which you might expect to see in a modern business hotel. Though few hotels have a Saint Raphael-themed stained-glass window and lending library. You get free WIFI, and (six days a week) a complimentary continental breakfast, as well as the loving welcome of the Christian spirit.

WHO RUNS THE HOUSE?

The staff are different too. While laypersons undertake daily operations, the Leo House also has nuns from the Congregation of Saint Agnes. Those nuns have been running the Leo House since its foundation back in 1889! Well, not those nuns, but nuns of their order. One of the sisters there currently is Sister Marilyn Ellickson, C.S.A, who is the development manager. She told The Tablet, “The mission of the Leo House is hospitality, and it is carried out because everyone is invited to stay here. We’ve had guests from all over the world, every religion, and people go away happy. They’re glad and they plan to come back.”

The Chairman and President of the Leo House, Michael Coneys, says, “People of all faiths are welcome and we host a variety of guests including clergy and religious, persons visiting the sick, students, and travelers from the United States and abroad. Many of our guests come from foreign countries.”

WHY THE LEO HOUSE IS SO SPECIAL

In a recent story from Catholic New York, the guesthouse is described as “an eight-story building with 81 units, including two family suites. It’s been at its present location since 1926. Established Dec. 7, 1889, by the papal certification of Pope Leo XIII, it was originally located on State Street in the Battery Park section of lower Manhattan.

Ashley Bryant, the assistant executive director told Catholic New York, “We have guests who have been coming here for 20 and 30 years; they consider this to be their home away from home. Sixty percent of our guests are foreign. They keep coming here because it’s affordable, it’s clean, it’s safe, and it’s one of the best deals in Manhattan. It’s a great location—we’re centrally located.”

The Leo House is one of many agencies that make up Catholic Charities of New York. In keeping with the mission of Catholic Charities, the Leo House is dedicated to offering affordable temporary accommodations for clergy, religious, people visiting the sick, students and travelers from the US and abroad regardless of religious affiliation.

Like any nonprofit serving the needs of many, the Leo House relies on funding from generous supporters. The cost of staying at the Leo House is minimal and untaxed, and not enough to keep it running. So, the Leo House will hold its Third Annual Pope Leo XIII Fundraising Gala on the evening of Monday, December 9th, 2019 at The Yale Club in Manhattan. Mark your calendars!

Congratulations to the Leo House for keeping your doors open for 130-years. May you remain open 130 more.