Société des Missions Africaines – Province d’Irlande

KELLY Thomas né le 13 avril 1886
dans le diocèse de Meath, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 22 avril 1924
décédé le 6 août 1932

chargé de l’administration de "African Missionary"

décédé à Dromantine, Irlande, le 9 août 1932,
à l’âge de 46 ans


Le frère Thomas KELLY (1886 - 1932)

A Dromantine (Irlande), le 9 août 1932, retour à Dieu du cher frère Thomas Kelly, à l'âge de 46 ans.

Thomas Kelly naquit à Duleek, dans le diocèse de Meath (Irlande), en 1886. Il fit de solides études. Homme d'affaires, il dirigea une manufacture avec son frère.

En 1922, M. Thomas Kelly demandait à entrer aux Missions Africaines. Il se révéla de suite un homme "supérieur", au caractère énergique, doué d'une grande intelligence; aussi les supérieurs de la province lui proposèrent-ils, au cours du noviciat, de devenir prêtre. Il préféra rester simple frère et cela par humilité; "il ne se croyait pas digne".

Il fit le serment le 22 avril 1924. A cet homme "doué pour l'administration" et "la tenue des livres" et qui d'ailleurs "pouvait faire tout", on confia l'administration et la comptabilité de la revue "African Missionary". Il se donna à sa tâche avec générosité et le plus grand dévouement. Il a toujours satisfait la confiance de ses supérieurs par sa piété et son travail.

Il devint poitrinaire par trop de dévouement et d'inattention à lui-même. Il mourut à la suite d'une hémorragie, lors d'un passage au grand séminaire de Dromantine. Il eut une très belle mort, empreinte d'un grand calme, d'une grande possession de lui-même et d'une force héroïque.

La mort du cher frère Thomas Kelly fut une perte incomparable pour la Société et la maison de Cork.

Le père Slattery a fait de lui ce bel éloge: "C'est l'homme le plus parfait que j'ai jamais connu, un héros et un saint."

Brother Thomas KELLY (1886 - 1932)

Thomas Kelly was born in Duleek, Co Meath, in the diocese of Meath, on 13 April 1886. He died in the Society's major seminary at Dromantine, Co Down, on 9 August 1932.

Thomas came from a well known Co Meath business family. He received his early education in the local school and afterwards attended the Christian Brothers secondary college in Dundalk where he won a scholarship. Eager to prepare himself for a business career, he attended a special course in the Manchester municipal school of technology and then went on to manage a successful manufacturing firm in Duleek with his brother Seamus (who later became a member of Dail Eireann).

When he was 36 years old, Thomas decided to abandon his business career and to join the S.M.A. as a brother. The superiors of the Province suggested that he should enter the novitiate at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, with a view to becoming a priest, but Thomas was convinced that his vocation lay in the brotherhood. Thomas entered the brothers novitiate at Kineurry, Killavala, near Westport, Co Mayo, in January 1922. This property, which consisted of a house and 180 acres had been given to the Province in 1913 as a free gift by Miss Sophia Crotty. From 1915 Kineurry was used as a 'postulate' for the brotherhood. After the Assembly of 1918 it became the novitiate (The decision to close Kineurry was taken in 1926 when the Land Commission detached 160 of the 180 acres. The property was eventually returned to Miss Crotty in 1932). Tom Hurst was superior of the novitiate and director of novices. Thomas took his first oath of membership on 22 April 1924. He was to spend the remainder of his life in the mother house of the Irish Province, at Blackrock Road, Cork, taking his permanent oath of membership there on 22 April 1930.

Blackrock road, when Thomas first came there, was the seat of the Provincial administration. It was also the location of the major seminary, where some 40 students were preparing for priesthood. A year after Thomas' arrival (at the Provincial Assembly of 1925), Maurice Slattery was elected Provincial. William Butler was superior of the seminary. Thomas' business experience made him admirably suited for the position of manager of the African Missionary. The A.M. was the first missionary magazine in Ireland, its first issue dating from January 1914. Published six times a year and later as a monthly, the A.M. represented the Society and its work to the Irish public. Thomas proved an excellent manager of the magazine, at a time when twelve issues annually had to be prepared, printed and distributed.

Thomas' death, at the early age of 46 years, came as a result of a haemorrhage during a journey from Cork to the Society's major seminary, at Dromantine, Co Down. His going was a great loss to the Province and especially to the Blackrock Road community. His obituary in the African Missionary recorded the following tribute: 'His work with the magazine called for ability and tact, and how admirably Thomas justified the confidence of his superiors only those who knew him intimately in his daily round of duties could tell. He threw himself heart and soul into his work. He laboured with unobtrusive industry, yet with a zest and geniality that made it a pleasure to work with him. He was ever unremitting in his services, his generous nature could never be satisfied with whatever duty as allotted him. Every spare moment even that time set apart for rest and recreation, he employed with some useful and profitable hobby, never a moment idle until failing health and superiors' orders compelled him unwillingly to desist.

He had apparently a strong dislike for speaking of himself, a dislike which came from a spirit of Christian mortification, and it was the jocose manner in which he would lightly turn aside all enquiries with regard to his health that deceived everybody into thinking that his illness last Christmas was but a passing indisposition. Later on, the fact that he seemed to recuperate during the Spring and left Cork in July in his usual high spirits for a holiday in his native district, led us all to believe that he would return in renewed health and vigour. We were quickly undeceived, however. It was at Dromantine college which he visited during his holiday that dangerous symptoms revealed the malady which had already undermined his health, and a subsequent brief illness ended his earthly pilgrimage'.

He is buried in Wilton cemetery.