Obituary Fr Patrick Kelly - 15th April
Fr Patrick Kelly has died in the Easter season when we are celebrating
the Resurrection and meditating on the appearances of the risen
Lord. One appearance, dear to the heart of Fr Patrick was that
by the loch of Galilee, recounted by John in Chapter 21. It
was preached at the start of one of our seminary retreats at
Drygrange and it made a deep and lasting impression.
As well as showing us our final hope of a glorious resurrection
with Jesus, this Gospel illustrated the privileges of priesthood.
Seven, the number in the boat shows the perfection of discipleship.
153 is a symbol of the universality of the church for, as St
Jerome tells us, some Greek geographers believed that there
were 153 different types of fish. Thus all nations and all kinds
of people are drawn into the Church. Jesus giving bread and
fish is symbolic of the Eucharist. Thus this gospel incident
demonstrated the pastoral mission of the priest, drawing all
kinds of people into the unity of the Church, and offering for
them the sacrifice of the Mass. This Gospel inspired Fr Patrick
in his seminary days and in his priesthood.
Patrick Kelly was born in Kilsyth on the 3rd July 1935. He has
a younger brother Peter, who is with us today. Peter has happy
memories of the brothers going together with the catholic boys
guild to Buncrana Castle in Ireland where they enjoyed swimming
and other sports. Pat liked Tom & Jerry Cartoons, followed
Celtic and loved the cinema and horse racing at Ayr.
At the age of twelve, Pat went to Blairs to study for the priesthood.
Our desks in the study-hall were next to each other as places
were allocated by age and we were born in the same month. It
was soon apparent that pat was a great footballer and that he
had a great singing voice and a good sense of humour. Later
he showed great acting talent as he played the part of a gangster
in ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ in our top year.
After Blairs Patrick was one of the first twelve students in
the new seminary at Drygrange near Melrose. Every visitor to
the collage likened us to the twelve apostles, which led to
arguments amongst ourselves as to who was Judas. We had manual
work in the grounds three afternoons each week and Pat was expert
with the scythe and one of the few students who were allowed
to use it. Pat was an avid reader and the first to buy the Rheims-Douai
Bible and read it from cover to cover – a feat that was
soon emulated by other students.
Fr Patrick was ordained priest in the Cathedral, Edinburgh on
14th March 1959. His first appointment was to Restalrig. With
his good looks and football and signing skills, he was a great
image for the youth. One lady who was a youth in St Ninian’s
said recently, ‘My memory of Fr Pat is seeing him
on his scooter, racing up to the Cathedral Hall for a Legion
of Mary meeting, with his scarf blowing in the wind.’
Fr Pat had a great love of his Parish Priest, Fr Fusco, and
a great loyalty to him. His love of animals was soon apparent
as he played with Nino, the housekeeper’s dog. One Priest
said, ‘Pat is a true son of St Francis.’
After seven years in St Ninian’s, Fr Pat proceeded to
Camelon, but only for about a year, for he was soon transferred
to St Margaret’s Dunfermline. There he was Master of Ceremonies
at the great Dunfermline pilgrimages, and the ceremonies went
off without a hitch.
From Dunfermline on to Musselburgh where once again Fr Pat had
a great love for his Parish Priest, Fr John Ward and he shared
his enthusiasm for the Bidding Prayers in the Breviary which
they both used at Mass as well as in the Devine Office. He was
assiduous in visiting the hospitals and the sick at home. He
is still remembered as a spiritual director of the Legion of
Mary. One Lady from Musselburgh very recently wrote to Fr Patrick
saying ‘You were brilliant and you were so well liked.’
When Fr John Ward was in failing health, he was well attended
by and assisted by Fr Patrick. Little wonder that when Fr ward
retired, Fr Patrick succeeded him as Parish Priest.
Fr Patrick’s next parish was St John Vianney’s in
Gilmerton. Here he continues the practice which of his predecessor,
Fr John Ramsey, in having a Holy Hour each month with a copia
of preists for confessions, after which a meal was provided
for the confessors. This was a great service to the parishioners
and contributed to the fellowship of the priests. Despite the
work in a big parish, Fr Patrick still found time to make regular
visits to his old friend, Fr Fusco , who was in semi–retirement
Over and above his parish commitments, Fr Patrick has many friends
overseas whom he visited on holidays. He loved to go to the
Vatican and brought back fine presents for his mother and family.
His friends in Canada gave him great joy; they owned a fruit
farm and Pat recounted how one summer he sold fruit by the roadside.
Twice he went with these friends to Venezuela, both memorable
Sadly Fr Pat’s health began to deteriorate. Wracked with
constant pain from Spondylitis, he had to retire. From then
on, his apostolate was to offer up his illness for the good
of souls, saying with St Paul, ‘I make up in my own
flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.’
Fr Pat found a happy home in Newmills where he was well looked
after by Miss Ann Fern who had been housekeeper in his first
parish, St Ninian’s. In Newmills he made many friends
and was greatly respected. Immediately after his death, one
neighbour wrote, ‘He will be sadly missed; he was
a very caring man.’
Fr Patrick went to meet his Lord on Sunday 15th April at the
home of the Little Sisters of the poor who had tenderly cared
for him in his last illness. He had 53 years of priesthood.
He was a humble man who sought not honours or renown. For him,
his priesthood was sufficient. May he rest in peace!
By kind permission of the Scottish Catholic Directory,
2013 edition. Pgs 158 – 160.