Kelly, Patrick, 1920-2012, Jesuit priest

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Kelly, Patrick, 1920-2012, Jesuit priest

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  • Paddy Kelly

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Dates of existence

21 February 1920-04 May 2012


Born: 21 February 1920, Limerick City
Entered: 07 September 1937, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1950, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 15 August 1953
Died 04 May 2012, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death.

by 1953 at Chikuni, Chisekesi, N Rhodesia (POL Mi) working - fifth wave of Zambian Missioners
by 1986 at Chicago (CHG) studying
by 1987 at Roosevelt NY, USA (NEB) working
by 1989 at Sunland-Tujunga CA, USA (CAL) working

◆ Interfuse

Interfuse No 148 : Summer 2012


Fr Patrick (Paddy) Kelly (1920-2012)

21 February 1920: Born in Limerick
Early education at Salesian Convent and CBS, Limerick
7 September 1937: Entered Society at Emo
8 September 1939: First Vows at Emo
1939 - 1942: Rathfarnham - Studied Arts at UCD
1942 - 1945: Studied philosophy in Tullabeg
1945 - 1947: Belvedere College - Teacher
1947 - 1951: Studied theology in Milltown Park
31 July 1950: Ordained priest in Milltown Park
1951 - 1952: Tertianship in Rathfarnham Castle
1952 - 1953: Chikuni College, Zambia - Language school
2 February 1953: Final vows at Chikuni College
1953 - 1955: Kasiya Mission
1955 - 1959: Chikuni - Teacher in Secondary School and Teachers' Training College
1959 - 1960: Charles Lwanga - Teacher training
1960 - 1962: Chikuni - Manager of Schools
1962 - 1969: Mungret College - Teacher
1969 - 1985: Crescent College - Teacher
1985 - 1988: New York - Prison Chaplain
1988 - 1992: California - Church of Our Lady of Lourdes
1992 - 1994: SFX, Gardiner Street - Assisted in the Church
1994 - 2002: Sacred Heart Church, Limerick - Assisted in the Church, Librarian
2002 - 2012: Milltown Park - Assisted in the Community
4 May 2012: Died Cherryfield

Fr. Patrick Kelly was admitted to Cherryfield Lodge on 27th January 2012. He had got unsteady and it was feared he would have a fall. He settled in very well. It was only in the last few weeks that he looked gaunt and passed away quietly on 4 May 2012. May he rest in the Peace of Christ

Obituary Liam O'Connell and Michael J. Kelly
Paddy Kelly was born in Limerick in 1920 where his family lived in Patrick Street. He remained steeped in the history and lore and the sporting traditions of his native city. His father manufactured boots and shoes, and also wooden clogs for the large numbers working in the bacon factories in the city, and when Limerick expertise was needed to set up bacon factories in Russia, he exported these clogs as far as Russia, Paddy lived during eventful times.

When he was very young, both the mayor of Limerick and the former mayor were murdered near Patrick Street by Black and Tans, and theIrish civil war deeply divided his native city.

Paddy had two brothers and three sisters, and every year they spent the summer months in a lodge in Kilkee. There is a photograph from one of these outings of Paddy as a four year old, complete with a large sand shovel, surrounded by his parents and family and ready to make his mark on the world. Throughout his life as a Jesuit Paddy returned to spend time at Kilkee with his mother, and his sisters and brothers, and they have happy memories of the life and fun he brought to these holidays.

In his final years in Sexton Street CBC in Limerick Paddy did a retreat with Fr. Mackey SJ, who was famous for encouraging Jesuit vocations. Afterwards they remained in correspondence and four days after the declaration of World War II, on 7th September 1939, Paddy left home at the age of 17 to go to the Novitiate at Emo. The 19 young novices who entered then were to live through a time of emergency and rationing that was to last for several years after the war ended. One of the other novices was Brendan Barry who had been educated with Paddy in Sexton Street CBC. The writer, Benedict Kiely, also belonged to their year, and he recorded his impressions of Emo in his novel There was an Ancient House.

After Emo, Paddy completed an Arts degree in UCD in 1942, and after Philosophy at Tullabeg, Tullamore, he spent two years in Belvedere as a teacher and sports coach and while there he obtained the Higher Diploma in Education. He was ordained in Milltown Park in 1950.

While in Tertianship in 1951-52, Paddy was assigned to the Chikuni Mission, the mission territory in present-day Zambia that Father General had committed to the Irish Province in 1949. When he arrived with others on 31st August 1952, Paddy was a member of the third large contingent from the Irish Province who took up work in the Chikuni Mission and among the first to travel there by air. At that time, the work of the Mission across an area about the size of Ireland was still in its infancy and faced the enormous challenge of a shortage of human resources, not just for strictly evangelical work, but for all those other aspects that constitute life in virtually virgin mission territory. It's no surprise, then, that the records show that on 6th August, less than a week after his arrival, Paddy spent the whole of his first Saturday in Africa loading a lorry with bundles of thatching grass, or that a few weeks later he and Norman MacDonald spent some days building a teacher's house in one of the out-stations. This kind of active involvement with what had to be done on the ground was characteristic of Paddy, who seemed happiest when doing things, developing things, getting his hands dirty, and talking all about it afterwards. Again and again, the records speak of things that Paddy did - shooting a hawk, getting a reluctant grinding mill to work again, celebrating the day of his final vows by being a member of the community football team that scored a 2-1 victory over the boys at Canisius College.

As with other newcomers, Paddy spent a large part of his first months learning the local language, ciTonga, under the able guidance of Bob Kelly. While necessary for all who were working at Chikuni Mission, this was especially important for Paddy who was appointed in August 1953 as Assistant Parish Priest at Kasiya, a mission sub station which had been established about two years earlier some 40 kilometres from the central Chikuni Mission. Here he was to work alongside Fr. Maurice Dowling, one of the earliest Irish Jesuits to go to the Chikuni Mission. The fact that Kasiya is now a well-established parish, with about 15,000 Catholics and ten outstations, is a tribute to .. what Paddy and his successors were able to accomplish there.

On completion of two years of fruitful parochial work, Paddy was transferred to the Mission's central education apostolate - Canisius College which at that time comprised both the full range of secondary schooling and a two-year teacher training programme. Paddy's work was principally in the latter, in the areas of religious education, English and mathematics. That he was moved in this way from a successful and - to him congenial – directly evangelical ministry to that of education bespeaks the tensions that existed in the Chikuni Mission (and indeed throughout the Society in its long history) between educational and other apostolates, with the human resource demands of school provision frequently taking precedence over what many perceived as the more Kingdom-oriented work of direct evangelisation and parochial ministry. But as a true and loyal Jesuit, Paddy threw himself into his new sphere of activities and was to remain in these for the following five years. Being a teacher educator, he was one of those who accompanied John Counihan, John Fitzgerald, Charlie O'Connor and others who moved from Canisius College to the newly established Charles Lwanga Teachers College in 1959.

But just a year later, apostolic needs and the shortage of personnel saw Paddy being moved to another responsibility, this time as Manager of Schools for all the Catholic primary schools that fell under Chikuni Mission. The maintenance and development of these schools, ensuring school supplies, the posting of teachers and their accommodation, and fostering the development of new schools all became part of Paddy's job. And given his nature it was a job in which he revelled. He showed a child-like delight in facing the challenges of long journeys over difficult terrain, of getting building and other supplies to locations where there were no roads or bridges, of being firm but courteous with local headmen about the importance of having their own school, of mobilising community support in making bricks, drawing sand, and maintaining buildings, and of making sure that the appointed teachers actually turned up for duty and did teach.

Throughout the decade in which he so generously served the people within the area of the Chikuni Mission, Paddy remained very true to himself – always good-humoured and good-natured, generous in responding to requests, forthright in manner, sometimes very blunt in approach and expression, and yet always very private about himself as a person and what motivated him. He is well remembered as a loyal and faithful Jesuit, a deeply spiritual man who downplayed what he felt might be extreme expressions of his spirituality, always anxious to do more (though seemingly never concerned about being more) and always a good companion. He served Zambia's people well and they were the losers when circumstances brought about his return to Ireland in 1962 and the commencement there of almost a quarter century of teaching ministry.

In 1962 Paddy returned to Ireland to minister in Mungret College, where he taught History and Geography and was in charge of the Study Hall. Paddy was by nature an optimist, and visiting parents who met Paddy regularly received glowing accounts of how their son was doing. Unfortunately these assessments often had to be revised downwards when the same parents met with other less optimistic teachers. Paddy's nick name in Mungret was Gazebo - a gazebo being an exotic outdoor garden house, a place for resting and shelter, and Paddy lived up to this description, as he was a breath of fresh air in the lives of many of the students.

In 1973 when the closure of Mungret College was announced, Paddy and other teachers from Mungret transferred to the new Jesuit Comprehensive School at Dooradoyle. To this day the Crescent students remember Paddy with a mixture of amazement and affection. In Crescent he was nicknamed 'Ned' after the Australian outlaw, Ned Kelly, who did things his own way, and I think that this was a tribute to Paddy's originality and independence.

At Crescent Paddy became one of the founder members of the new Geography department. At this time when the syllabus was expanded to include more Geology and Human Geography, and Paddy's colleagues at Crescent never ceased to be amazed at the breadth and depth of his knowledge. He pioneered Geography Field

Trips and he became an expert on the Burren region in Co. Clare. He was also a great collector of valuable Geography books and of rocks, and he guarded them well. One day a group of teachers thought that they would build a Sun Dial, and began to wonder how. Paddy left the discussion briefly and returned with a book on 'How to make Sun Dials'. And his name - Paddy Kelly SJ – was written across the front of the book, in big black marker lettering, in case somebody dared not to return it to him.

Everybody he taught remembers Paddy's wonderful turn of phrase. Latecomers were warned not to 'shilly shally. In congested corridors between class periods, to the amusement of all, Paddy encouraged good order by booming out “file fast past fat fools”, or “hurry up you meandering tortoises”,

I have plenty of other pictures of Paddy: setting out on a Saturday morning from Dooradoyle on foot on a 20-mile-round walking trip to the Clare Hills; constructing unusual-looking but very comfortable garden seats; painting everything in sight; planting trees and daffodils, and cutting grass; fixing anything that was broken with carefully guarded tools; nodding during a conversation and saying "you're perfectly right and being positive and encouraging; sitting outside the back door in the evening, smoking his pipe, and looking the picture of contentment.

In 1985, at 65 years of age Paddy retired from teaching at Crescent, and left Limerick to work for a few years in the Prison Service in New York as a Chaplain, and then in a parish in Los Angeles, before returning to Gardiner Street and the Sacred Heart Church in Limerick, and finally to the Community in Milltown Park where he lived happily for ten years. In Gardiner Street some people did not care much for the added prayers and commentary he added to the liturgy, but many people loved the outgoing way in which he celebrated Mass. His Jesuit colleagues remember his optimism. There is a story that one morning in Gardiner Street, at breakfast Paddy was just too optimistic and charitable about everything, and an exasperated brother Jesuit remarked “Paddy you are so positive that you would speak well of the devil”, to which Paddy replied. “Indeed I would - he's a very hard worker”.

Paddy was often great fun, but he was serious too, and serious about things that he did not easily talk about, serious about his faith and his commitment to the Eucharist, nourishment from God for our journey, and especially as we prepare for the journey into the unknown. Two months before he died, Paddy moved to Cherryfield Lodge, and he knew that this part of his joumey was coming close. This was a time of special grace and acceptance for him. He was most thankful to the staff at Cherryfield, to the Rector and Milltown community, and to family and to old friends who stayed in touch. He died peacefully in Cherryfield on 4 May 2012.


Salesian Convent, Shannabooly, Limerick

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-


Kelly, Patrick, 1920-2012, Jesuit priest

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IE IJA J/779

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