Kelly, Rev James


December 9, 2008

Personal Info

  • Date of Birth:  20 May 1910
  • Place of Birth in Ireland: Dublin
  • County: Dublin
  • Education: Oscott Diocesan Seminary in England
  • Date of Ordination: 10 September 1944 for the Order of St Camillus
  • Place of Ordination: Mulligar, Ireland
  • Ordained by: Bishop (later Cardinal) John Dalton of the Diocese of Meath

Prior to immigrating to the United States, Father Kelly founded the Camillian House in London in 1945 and served as Superior there from 1946 to 1949. He also served as chaplain of the Hillside Institute and LaSainte Union convent during the same time period while living in London. Father Kelly transferred to the Diocese of Dodge City in 1953.

The power of one –  “As a chaplain at the Hillside Institution for the aged, Fr Kelly fought the opposition of the London County Council and succeeded in forcing them to erect a Catholic Chapel in the institution for Catholic inmates where Mass was then offered every Sunday and holy day after a lapse of more than 100 years.”

Father Kelly, during his reign as pastor of St. Theresa Parish in Dighton, was named by Bishop Marion Forst to be the first Spiritual Director of the Legion of Mary Comitium erected in the Dodge City Diocese. Father Kelly organized the first Legion of Mary Praesidium in the diocese in 1953 and was a member of the Order of St Caprillus, which specializes in hospital work.

Diocesan Appointments:

  • Assistant Pastor – St Mary’s Parish, Marienthal, with St. Anthony’s, St. Theresa’s and St Joseph’s, Tribune as missions – 19 March 1953
  • Pastor – St Joseph, Tribune (1st resident pastor as the St Joseph mission was erected into a parish by the Most Rev John B. Frantz, effective 15 September 1953) and continued to serve the mission St. Anthony in St. Theresa – 1953 to 1959
  • Pastor – St Theresa, Dighton – 1960 to 1963
  • 1st Spiritual Director – Legion of Mary Comitium – 31 March 1963
  • Pastor – St Joseph, Scott City – 1963 to 1968
  • Pastor – St Joseph, Ellinwood – 1968 to 1979
  • Diocesan Director – Catholic Hospitals – 12 September 1968
  • Chaplain – Central Kansas Medical Center, Great Bend – 1979 to 1987
  • Pastor – St Joseph, Liebenthal – 1987 to 1989

The Legion of Mary Curia held their annual reunion in Garden City where Rev. James Kelly, pastor of St Joseph’s Church, Tribune read a paper entitled “The Legion of Mary from the Early Men.” Father Kelly had been an active member of the Legion’s since its founding in Dublin. Active members of the Legion are fully engaged in hospital and home visitations, teaching catechism, citation of daily prayers as prescribed by the Legion and other apostolic works under the direction of the clergy.

Father Kelly retired to Ireland in 1989 but returned to Kansas in 1991 and took up residence at the Priests’ Retirement Center on the campus of the Spiritual Life Center until his death.

  • Date of Death: 9 December 2008
  • Place of Death: Catholic Care Center
  • Age of Death: 98
  • Funeral Celebrant: Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore
  • Burial: Ascension Cemetery, Wichita

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