Jerome Kelly, OFM
1910 – 1997
Fr. Jerome Kelly, OFM, was born in Providence, R.I., on Sept. 23, 1910. He was received into the Province’s novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., in 1930 and professed temporary vows the following year. In 1934, he made his profession of solemn and was ordained to the priesthood in 1937.
Fr. Jerome spent his early days of ministry as a lector at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., and as pastor of the Long Eddy mission. During this period, he established the basis of his reputation as a teacher, spiritual adviser and, for many, charismatic role model.
From Callicoon, he moved on to the Catholic University of America for an master’s degree in English literature. Then came 16 years as a professor of English at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y., until 1964, when he was appointed master of clerics at Holy Name College in Washington. He went back to St. Bonaventure to serve as academic vice president but soon returned to Callicoon, for three more years as a teacher and spiritual director until the seminary closed in 1972.
Fr. Jerome was then invited to join the novitiate team in Brookline, Mass., whence he retired in 1976 to St. Anthony Residence in Boston.
In 1991, St. Bonaventure University named Fr. Jerome a doctor of laws and letters Honoris Causa in recognition of his lifetime dedication to the development of religious vocations and to the teaching profession.
He died at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., Aug. 30, 1997. He was 86 years old, a professed Franciscan for 66 years and a priest for 60 years.