Peter Keelan, OFM
1917 – 1979
Fr. Peter Keelan, OFM, was born on June 13, 1917 in Newark, N.J. He attended St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., before entering the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1938. He professed temporary vows in 1939, made his solemn profession in 1942 and was ordained in 1944.
His first assignment took him to St. Stephen of Hungary Parish in New York City. From 1946 to 1948, he taught English and religion at St. Bonaventure College, Allegany, N.Y. After short terms at ministries in Paterson and Americus, Ga., Fr. Peter was assigned to St. Anthony Parish in Butler, N.J., for four years. He then went to St. Anthony’s Shrine in Boston, where he served for 12 years. He returned to Butler, but failing health began to impede his ministry. Fr. Peter was a superb preacher, often speaking about Nathaniel, the “true Israelite in whom there is no guile.” He himself was a friar without guile.
He died on Dec. 29, 1979 at St. Clare’s Hospital in Denville, N.J. Fr. Peter was 62 years old, a professed friar for 40 years and a priest for 35 years.