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Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

KELLY John né le 11 septembre 1934
dans le diocèse d’Elphin (Irlande)
membre de la SMA 26 juin 1954
prêtre le 21 décembre 1960
décédé le 24 avril 2005

1961-1964 missionnaire au Nigeria, Jos
1964-1965 Wilton, further studies
1965-1967 Blackrock Road, Cork, animation vocationnelle
1968-1976 missionnaire au Nigeria, Jos
1976-1983 Blackrock Road, Cork, promotion
1983-1984 Rome, année sabbatique
1984-1987 Blackrock Road, Cork, promotion
1987-2000 Wilton, économe et équipe de formation
2000-2005 diocèse d’Elphin, Irlande

décédé le 24 avril 2005 à Lecarrow, Roscommon (Irlande),
à l’âge de 70 ans


Father John Joseph (Seán) KELLY (1934 - 2005)

John Joseph Kelly was born at Corlis, Castlerea, Co Roscommon, in the diocese of Elphin, on 11th September 1934.
He died at the Presbytery, St. John’s, Lecarrow, Roscommon, on 24th April 2005.

John J. (Sean) Kelly was one of fourteen children born into a farming family in Co Roscommon. He was baptised in the parish of Tulsk and Kilmurry on 16th September 1934. His parents were Thomas and Mary Angela (nee Harte). Sean attended Caddlebrook National School for his primary education. He then entered the Society’s Sacred Heart College at Ballinafad, Co Mayo, where, five years later, in 1953, he completed his secondary education. Sean was promoted to the Society’s novitiate in September 1954. A year later he came to St. Joseph’s College, Wilton, which a year previously had changed from being a secondary school into a hostel for SMA students attending University College Cork. Sean studied for a B.A. degree, taking English, Latin and Philosophy for his subjects. Successfully completing his course, he was promoted to the major seminary at Dromantine, Newry, Co Down, in October 1957. Sean was first received as a member of the Society on 26th June 1954. He became a permanent member on 14th June 1960. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Eugene O’Doherty of Dromore diocese, in St. Colman’s cathedral, Newry, Co Down, on 21st December 1960. He was one of a group of twenty-two ordained on that day.

After ordination Sean returned to Dromantine for a further six months to complete his theological course. He was then appointed to the diocese of Jos, in Northern Nigeria. This jurisdiction had been erected in 1934 following a division of the Prefecture of Northern Nigeria. It was erected as a diocese under John Reddington in 1953. Sean was to work in Jos diocese from 1961 until 1976, with the exception of a year (1964/1965) when he obtained a higher diploma in education at U.C.C., a year as director of students in Wilton (1965) and two years as Vocation Director for the Province (1965-1967). Coming to Africa at a time when the development of second level education was a priority it was not surprising that he was to spend most of his missionary career in a teaching ministry. Much of his teaching took place in St. Joseph’s college, Vom. This secondary school, situated in Benue-Plateau State some 20 miles from Jos, was founded by Bishop Reddington in 1958 to cater for Catholics from the northern part of the diocese. Sean taught in Vom until 1975 when, after a short period assisting Joe Maguire in St. Theresa’s parish, Jos, he took up a teaching assignment in a government secondary school at Riyom.

In May 1976 Sean returned to Ireland for medical treatment. Later that year he was appointed to the Province’s promotion team in Ireland. An important part of his work was the promotion of the Society’s magazine, The African Missionary. He discharged his responsibilities in the dioceses of Cork and Ross (1977), Kerry and Clonfert (1978-1979), Dublin (1980-1981) and Waterford (1981). In September 1981 Sean transferred to the collection of Mission Boxes, replacing the veteran collector Brother Peter Houlihan. In September 1983 he took a well-earned sabbatical leave, spending a year in Rome where he received a Masters Degree (magna cum laude) in theology from the Angelicum University. On his return to Ireland he resumed the collection of Mission Boxes until August 1987. Sean’s next posting was to Wilton where he was appointed Bursar and Assistant to the Director of Formation. He relinquished this latter responsibility in 1992, but remained on as Bursar until April 2000. The last years of Sean’s priestly career were lived out as a curate in Lecarrow, in the diocese of Elphin.

His death came relatively unexpectedly, although a life-long habit of heavy tobacco smoking must have given cause for concern. It is also true that during his last year he had been hospitalised on three occasions. His sister, Teresa Tyrrell had spent the weekend with Sean. He celebrated two Masses on Sunday Morning (the day of his death) followed by a Baptism. After lunch he complained of a pain and told her it is from his colon. He lay down for an hour. Later, just after sharing a cup of tea with his sister prior to her departure, he died.

The homilist at Sean’s Requiem Mass captured something of Sean’s disposition and character when he told the congregation that: ‘Sean always related naturally to people and made lasting friendships easily. He always made a point of knowing the personal names of people; he never forgot them. He was loyal to his family, to the SMA and to his friends. He loved company, had a good sense of humour; was a great entertainer; he could tell stories with the best and his tales were tall but never tedious. These social gifts helped him in the different appointments he held during his life. They helped him in his dealings with young people whether in the classroom, in vocations groups or parish groups; they helped him in promoting the SMA mission; they helped him in parish work.’

He is buried in Wilton Cemetery.