Lawrence W. Kelly, O.S.A.

1814 – 1908 (June 7)

William Kelly, the son of Patrick Kelly and Margarent Brien, was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland, about the year 1814. As a young man he was very active in the Catholic emancipation movement in Ireland. After immigrating to the United States. he applied to the Order and was vested at Villanova, Pennsylvania, on April 16, 1849, with the name, Brother Lawrence. 

In 1849 he was assigned to Saint Augustine Parish, Philadelphia. Together with Brothers Kieran and Sylvester, he left the community to join the Trappists, but returned in 1853. He was solemnly professed on June 2, 1859.

Brother Lawrence was assigned to Saint Mary’s Parish in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on April 26, 1871, and served there for more than 37 years as sexton, cemetery caretaker, grave digger and carpenter. Standing 6 feet 2 inches tall, he was a striking figure and, perhaps precisely because of his bearing, was called upon to serve, informally, as the disciplinarian of the boys in the parochial school whom the sisters referred to him.

Brother Lawrence died on June 7, 1908 at the age of 94 after an illness of two weeks. He is buried in Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Lawrence.