Columban Kelly, OFM
1883 – 1958
Fr. Columban Kelly, OFM, was born Jan. 9, 1883 in Hudson, Mass. He entered the novitiate in 1906, professing temporary vows one year later. Fr. Columban made his solemn profession and was ordained in 1910.
His first assignment was to St. Bonaventure’s College, Allegany, N.Y., where he was known as a thorough classicist with a disdain for textbooks. In class, he would quote pages from Homer, Cicero, Virgil and Shakespeare entirely from memory. During World War I, Fr. Columban served as an army chaplain with the rank of first lieutenant. He served at a base hospital in Allerey, France, until 1919.
After the war, Fr. Columban taught at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., and served in Winsted, Conn., and Buffalo, N.Y. For the last 20 years of his life, he ministered as chaplain of St. Anthony’s Hospital in Warwick, N.Y. Colorful legends and stories about his life abound, including his wearing a high top hat and swallow coat-tail coat in the classroom and in the chapel. For Fr. Columban, the “law of compassion” was his code of life, and his love and care for the sick at Warwick were outstanding.
He died on March 31, 1958 at St. Anthony’s Hospital. Fr. Columban was 75 years old, a professed friar for 50 years and a priest for 47 years.