EWTN Mourns Death of Father Elias Leyds, "heart" of Low Countries Apostolate

Father Elias Leyds, CSJ. | Credit: EWTN News

The Eternal Word Television Network this week mourned the unexpected death of Father Elias Leyds, CSJ, the founder of EWTN Low Countries who was described as “a brilliant man, faithful priest, and encouraging witness of faith.”

Leyds, who converted to Catholicism in the 1980s, joined the French Community of St. John in 1987. He launched EWTN Low Countries in 2019. The affiliate said he passed away “suddenly” this week. No cause of death was given. 

EWTN Chairman of the Board and CEO Michael Warsaw said that Leyds was “an amazing man and fully dedicated to bringing the mission of EWTN to the Low Countries, and especially his home country of Holland.”  

“For all who knew him, this news is very sad, but especially so to our co-workers at EWTN Low Countries,” Warsaw said. “Father Elias was the heart of that apostolate. He will be greatly missed.” 

“Please join me in praying for the repose of his soul and for our co-workers who so deeply are mourning his passing,” Warsaw added.


Martin Rothweiler, the managing director at EWTN Germany, said Leyds “cut an incredibly impressive figure for me, highly educated, witty, courageous, authentic, modest, and endowed with a wonderful sense of humor.” He described Leyds as “a brilliant man, faithful priest, and encouraging witness of faith.”

“It was always enriching to talk to him,” Rothweiler said. “At the same time, he had something incredibly down-to-earth and tangible. He practiced boxing and worked for a while as a prison chaplain. He knew the most diverse realities of life of people in different regions of the world.”

“Father tackled contemporary culture and searched passionately for ways to proclaim the Gospel in our secularized world,” Rothweiler added. “That’s why he co-founded EWTN in the Netherlands. He was also willing to make programs for EWTN Germany.”

In a video posted to YouTube by EWTN Low Countries days before his death, Leyds offered commentary on Pope Francis’ November motu proprio Ad Theologiam Promovendam as well as the Vatican’s controversial same-sex blessing declaration Fiducia Supplicans.

Leyds in the video affirmed that as a Catholic priest he was “connected with [Pope Francis] by obligation, by obedience” and that it was his “duty to question until [clarity] was given.” 

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If the Holy Father “creates more confusion,” it is “only a charitable act to ask him for clarification,” the priest said. 

Leyds was 65 years old at the time of his death.

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Daniel Payne is a senior editor at Catholic News Agency. He previously worked at the College Fix and Just the News. He lives in Virginia with his family.