Thomas J. Kelly, O.S.A.

1906 – 1987 (May 20)

Thomas Joseph Kelly was born on November 15, 1906 in Philadelphia, PA, one of three sons and one daughter of John Kelly and Margaret McElliott. He was baptized at Our Mother of Sorrows Church, Philadelphia, where he attended the parochial grammar school and West Catholic High School. Upon graduating in 1924, he worked for three years for the Ford Agency in Ardmore, PA. In September 1927, at the age of 20, he applied to and was admitted to the Novitiate of Our Mother of Good Counsel, New Hamburg, NY, where he professed simple vows on September 9, 1928. Three years later at the collegiate seminary at Saint Mary’s Hall, Villanova, PA, he professed solemn vows. He graduated from Villanova University with an A.B. degree in philosophy in 1932, and began his theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, DC. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 11, 1935 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Washington by Bishop James Ryan.

Father Kelly’s first assignment was to Saint Rita’s High School in Chicago, IL, where for six years he taught religion, history, and various business courses. In 1943, Father Kelly was assigned to Saint Augustine’s Church in Troy, NY, as parochial assistant and instructor in the C.C.D. program. In 1954 he was assigned as an assistant at Sacred Heart Chapel in Lewisburg, PA, which the Province had agreed to staff. As assistant his duties included serving as chaplain at the Federal Prison located in Lewisburg as well as working with the Newman Club at Bucknell University. In 1952 Father Kelly was assigned to Our Mother of Consolation, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA, as parochial assistant. It was at Chestnut Hill that he began to work with the sick and aged in the hospitals and nursing homes of the parish, a work that he later stated was his primary apostolate and greatest joy. From 1957 to 1964 he continued his work in our parishes of Saint Paul, Mechanicville, N.Y., Our Mother of Good Counsel, Bryn Mawr, PA, Assumption, Lawrence, MA, and Saint Genevieve in Flourtown, PA.

In 1965 Father Kelly returned to Our Mother of Consolation in Chestnut Hill. In 1968 he was transferred to Saint Joseph Church in Greenwich, NY, and from there he often helped out at our parishes of the Immaculate Conception, Hoosick Falls and Saint James the Minor in Carthage, N.Y. In 1969 he requested to return to Chestnut Hill where he stated the happiest years of his priestly life had been spent caring for the dying and the aged. His request was granted and he remained at Chestnut Hill until his retirement to Saint Thomas of Villanova Monastery, Villanova, in 1971. Even in retirement, Father Tim, as he was affectionately called, never hesitated to accept temporary assignments to replace priests who were ill or on vacation. His cheerful optimism was contagious. In 1985 he celebrated fifty years as a priest. Two years later, at the age of 80 he died quite suddenly on May 20, 1987. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by Father Joseph A. Duffey, O.S.A., prior provincial, on May 22 at the Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova on the university campus. Father John Hennessey, O.S.A., preached the homily. Father Kelly is buried in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, PA.