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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Monthly Archives: September 2008
Friday

by Bob Pagliari, C.Ss.R.

Each year on September 29 the Church celebrates the feast of the archangels in heaven. Each year on September 29 the Kelly family celebrated their son’s birthday on earth. This year God called Father Vincent Kelly home on September 26 so he could celebrate his 95th earthly birthday with all the other angelic hosts in heaven.

In 1913 he was born, the second of 10 children, to William Kelly and Catherine Hickey in the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Mission Hill in Roxbury Massachusetts. His real name was James. But because his cousin, James, also lived under their roof, he decided to surrender his first name and be called by his middle name, Vincent. Thus the twin namesakes grew up in the shadow of the twin spires of the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Redemptorist Mission Church on Tremont Street. Vincent began serving his parish as a young altar boy and eventually spent 45 years, nearly half of his entire life, serving his parish as an ordained, Redemptorist priest.

In September 1919 Vincent entered OLPH grammar school and received his first Holy Communion on Ascension Thursday in May 1921. "I recall it was at a temporary wooden altar rail as they were remodeling the high altar that year," wrote Father Vin of the occasion. "The day was a most happy one and the one most vividly recalled of those early years." His youthful love for Christ matured on August 28, 1927 when he and eight other classmates packed their trunks and began the long journey to St. Mary’s College, the preparatory seminary in North East, PA. He completed the six-year program there and, after his novitiate year in Ilchester Maryland, professed his religious vows as a member of the Redemptorist Congregation on August 2, 1934.

Bishop Stephen J. Donahue ordained Frater Vincent at Mount St. Alphonsus Chapel in Esopus, NY on June 18, 1939. Then Father Kelly continued his academic studies at Catholic University in Washington DC where he received an STD degree in 1942.

He taught Latin at the Preparatory Seminary in North East PA from 1942 to 1950–an academic career that was suspended from 1944 to 1946 so he could serve as a chaplain in the armed forces during World War II.

From 1950 to 1956 Father Vincent served as a parish priest at Mission Church until he was transferred to Lima Ohio to become the pastor of St. Gerard Church until 1961. From there he was appointed pastor of OLPH parish in Manhattan, New York but that appointment only lasted one year because he was elevated to a two-year appointment as Provincial Consultor for his religious congregation in 1962.

Father Vincent returned to Mission Church as the pastor from 1964 to 1969 and then remained there as a parish priest for an additional 33 years. "He was very involved with my family and was always helpful to us," said his confrere, Father John Lavin. This sentiment could be repeated thousands of times by the many parishioners and non-parishioners who were helped by Father Vin spiritually, emotionally, and even financially if there was a dire need. This is not to say that he didn’t speak his mind. According to visiting nurse and long-time friend, Margaret Mahoney, "Father Kelly was a patient man…with everyone here at Mission and later on at Saratoga too. But he was also direct and gave you honest feedback, whether you liked it or not!"

When all is said and done, "he was one of the giants, and everyone wanted to be with him," said former pastor Father Richard Bennett. "You could call him the ’Mayor of Mission.’ And when he left to go to our nursing facility in Saratoga Springs in 2003, fully 2/3 of the busloads of people who went there to visit our senior priests told me they were going specifically to see Father Vincent."

As soon as he heard that his confrere had entered into his eternal reward, the present provincial, Father Pat Woods, said "Father Vin Kelly was one of the most beloved parish priests in the history of our province. At Mission Church he was sought out to be the celebrant at countless weddings and funerals. Although he suffered from a variety of physical limitations, he never lost his gentle good humor and his great love for the confreres and the Congregation. The province has lost one of its great heroes."

Father Kelly is survived by his sister, Marguerite DeJoie, of West Roxbury and his brother, Rev. John Kelly, a retired priest of Archdiocese of Boston in Somerville, as well as several devoted and loving nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

 

Rev. Vincent Kelly C.Ss.R.

  • Born: September 29, 1913
  • Professed: August 2, 1934
  • Ordained: June 18, 1939
  • Died: September 26, 2008

 

Services

St. John Neumann Residence
233 Lake Ave.
Saratoga Springs, NY

Wake Service
Monday, Sept. 29, 2008
7:00 pm

Funeral Mass
Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008
11:00 am
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
(Mission Church)

1545 Tremont St.
Boston, MA

Wake
Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008
7:00-9:00 pm
Prayer service: 7:30 pm

Funeral Mass
Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008
Viewing: 9:30 am – 10:45 am
Mass: 11:00 am

Thursday

Last weekend Redemptorist Associates from across the Baltimore Province gathered at San Alfonso Retreat House, Long Branch, NJ, for their annual retreat led by V. Rev. Father Patrick Woods, C.Ss.R., Provincial Superior, and Fr. John McGowan, C.Ss.R.