After a lengthy illness, Fr. Paul Kelly, SCJ, died early this morning, October 26, surrounded by members of his community at Sacred Heart at Monastery Lake in Franklin, WI. He was 68.
Originally from Carbondale, PA, Fr. Paul was 18 when he became a candidate with the community. He professed first vows in 1970 and was ordained in 1977. Fr. Paul earned his M.Div. from Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology and a Master’s in Theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.
Fr. Paul served in parish ministry at St. Matthew’s in Houston and Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (now St. Martin of Tours) in Franklin, WI, as well as on the Cheyenne River Pastoral Team in South Dakota. He was also spiritual director of the Province Development Office, the public face of the Priests of the Sacred Heart for many people win the United States.
However, one of his greatest passions has been spiritual formation. For many years he served as a spiritual director at SHSST, and as vice president for Spiritual and Human Formation.
“I have found that the ministry of spiritual direction has been a unique opportunity to help others (and myself) to experience God’s graciousness in the midst of struggles, decisions, triumphs and tragedies,” wrote Fr. Paul in the e-publication Dehonian Spirituality. “The inner journey isn’t an easy one. Having a trusted companion is a great gift and mutual blessing.”
He continued, noting that “spiritual direction is both a grace and an art! It touches both director and directee. The unfolding of one’s life in the light of the love and mercy of God is a grace. As an art, it demands of the director a deep knowledge of self and of God’s ways, a listening heart, and a desire to help set another free. The director must become aware of his/her own journey to inner freedom.”
Last week, Fr. Paul was honored by SHSST for his many years of ministry to the seminary.
Fr. Paul also had a great love for his religious community, though was quick to note that living in community is not necessarily an easy task.
“Community life has challenges in regard to mercy,” he said during a presentation at the 2016 US Province Assembly. “We come together for the mission, for the community. We are so very much alike and but also so very different. And that is the rub. How different we are! We unintentionally hurt with words, slights and misunderstandings…
“When it comes to being merciful in community sometimes I say, ‘I can’t.’ But if we allow God to work in us, we can be shown the way; the way to give mercy, to receive mercy. I hope that we will continue to find deep experiences of the mercy and compassion that God intends for us to experience in and through the lives of one another.”
One of the last written pieces that Fr. Paul did was for the Province Vocation Office’s 2017 Advent reflection booklet. His topic? Hope.
“Hope is so necessary for living life more fully,” he began. “It seems to me that these times of ours test our hope in so many significant ways. Natural disasters seem to be so frequent. Tensions between nations seem to be escalating. Climate change and diseases appear to be adding to the picture. How do we continue to hope?
“Hope may not change disastrous realities around us, but it does change us. People with hope bring light into the darkness. Small thoughtfulness and kindness should not be dismissed. It has been my experience that the living Lord and my hope in Him continually renews my strength!”
Friday, November 2, Sacred Heart Monastery/School of Theology:
Wake service: 9:00 a.m. followed by visitation until the time of the funeral.
Mass of Christian Burial: 10:30 a.m. followed by interment at the community mausoleum.