Remembering the life of Fr. Christopher Kelly CP
Christopher Kelly, Passionist priest, born Belfast, 2 April 1919; died London, 23 March 2020.
Fr. Chris went to his eternal reward, just one week short of his 101st birthday. He passed away peacefully at Nazareth House Nursing Home in North London. Christened Francis Joseph Kelly, he was born in Belfast on 2 April 1919, one of seven children to parents Michael and Margaret Kelly. His older brother James worked, with distinction, for the Irish Independent.
Francis/Fr Christopher was educated by the Christian Brothers in Belfast and attempted to join the Passionist Order in Ireland but was unable to as there were no vacancies. On 3 January 1939, he got on a boat from Belfast to Heysham to join the Passionists at Broadway in Worcestershire.
He recalls that ‘it took a long time to adjust to life in a monastery. The whole day was spelt out by what was called the religious observance’. Eventually, he was ordained on 28 April 1945 and sent to be the priest in a little parish in Addingham where, he says, ‘I was my own boss there’.
He was moved around a few times, he was sent to Sutton St. Helen’s in 1950, then St. David’s in Wales where his only source of transport was his BSA Bantam motorbike (See photo). Then he first arrived in Highgate between January and July in 1955.
After that he spent the rest of his ministry in Ilkley, West Yorkshire until 1978 when he returned to Highgate St. Joseph’s church, twenty-three years after his first posting there, and where he has stayed until the present day.
He stopped saying Mass about three years ago because of physical frailty and spent the remainder of his days living in sheltered accommodation in neighbouring Finchley. He was a regular visitor to St Joseph’s Social Club until his life on earth came to an end.
His nephew, Patrick Kelly, has written an obituary for Fr. Chris which you can read in the Tablet, here.
You can also see a short video of Fr. Christopher’s burial here.
Eternal rest grant unto Fr.Chris, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace, Amen.
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