19 April 2011

Columban Fr Anthony Kelly RIP

Fr Anthony (Tony) W. Kelly (1935 - 2011)

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr Tony Kelly who died on 12 April. I didn't know him too well as he was already in the Philippines when I entered the seminary in 1961. We worked in different parts of the Philippines and would usually meet only at occasional meetings. The words used in the obituary below sent by Fr Cyril Lovett, editor of Far East, the Columban magazine in Ireland, 'a kind and genial companion', are exactly the words I used myself the other day in an email to another Columban. This is captured, I think, in the photo above. I'm told too that he spoke the two main languages in the area where he worked, Pangasinense and Ilokano, fluently.

For us Irish, county allegiances - there are 32 counties, ironically, created by the English - are very important, especially with regard to our two main national sports, Gaelic Football and Hurling. I didn't know until now that Father Tony had been born in County Kerry, a Gaelic Football stronghold. But he grew up in County Tipperary, a Hurling stronghold, and I'm told that he was a very good hurler in his day. Tipperary is the place to which it's a long way in the famous English music-hall song from the Great War.

The restored Holy Cross Abbey, Holycross, Co Tipperary, where Father Tony spent some of his earlier years.

Fr Tony Kelly was born in Ballyduff, Tralee, Co Kerry, Ireland on 11 April 1935. He was educated at Holycross Primary School, Thurles Primary School, and Christian Brothers' School, Thurles, Co Tipperary.

He came to St Columban's College, Dalgan Park, in 1953 and was ordained priest on 21 December 1959.

Appointed to the Philippines in 1960, after language studies he was sent to work in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, in northern Luzon. He spent the next forty years working in various parishes of that archdiocese and later in the newly-created Diocese of Alaminos.

He returned to Dalgan in 2002 and, in his typical quiet, unobtrusive fashion, provided many small but essential services for his fellow-Columbans in the Retirement Home.

Though a very private person, FatherTony was a kind and genial companion, easy to live and work with. He was a man of deep integrity and honesty. He was selfless in all that he did, and served the people of Pangasinan with total dedication. His whole life revolved around visting the people in their homes and barrios.

Father Tony was very interested in sport and loved to talk about Tipperary hurling. He was a keen and shrewd bridge player, and was always very willing to share his bridge skills with others. A man of deep prayer and an exemplary missionary, he will be sadly missed by his family, and his many friends in the Philippines and in Dalgan.

Father Tony celebrated his Golden Jubilee in 2009. He had not been feeling well in recent months, and, once diagnosed with cancer, his illness progressed rapidly. He accepted the diagnosis with the same quiet, calm
determination that had characterised his life and ministry. He died in St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, on 12 April 2011.

May he rest in peace.

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