News

Father Joseph A. Kelly, S.J., of Saint Peter’s College and St. Malachy’s Church Passes Away

Father Joseph A. Kelly, S.J.
May 27, 1931 – December 5, 2008

Jersey City – Father Joseph A. Kelly, S.J., a member of the Jesuit order since 1949, passed away on Friday, December 5, 2008, at Christ Hospital in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Father Kelly, 77, had just returned to Jersey City to work at Saint Peter’s College, where he was going to assist with fundraising activities. Beginning in 1968, he served as a campus minister at the College for more than 20 years, counseling students and providing retreats, seminars, masses and workshops to enhance their personal growth.  One of his most memorable initiatives at the College was the Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty (CROP) walk, which continues to provide funds for international food pantries.

“Here was a man who was full of charm, intelligence and the great wit of the Irish,” commented Saint Peter’s College President Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D. “We were fortunate that he was completely devoted to the College and we looked forward to his return.”

After leaving Saint Peter’s in 1988, Father Kelly became the Parochial Vicar at St. Malachy’s Church, also known as The Actors’ Chapel, in Manhattan. He was a friend to the Broadway community, counseling new actors, as well as stagehands, and providing masses to them at times that were convenient. Father Kelly also had a great love for theater. In fact, he played the role of a Catholic priest in the 1996 film City Hall in a scene with Al Pacino.

While he worked at St. Malachy’s, Father Kelly continued to offer intellectual and spiritual support to the Saint Peter’s community. He often volunteered as a speaker and master of ceremony for College events. He was named an honorary alumnus of the College at its Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner in 2005.

Father Kelly, the youngest of seven children, was born in Tullamore County, Offaly, Ireland, and joined the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus in 1949. He earned his undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature in 1954 at University College in Dublin. He arrived in the United States in 1965 to do post-graduate studies at Cornell and at Loyola University in Chicago.

Father Kelly is survived by a sister, Oonagh; a brother, Father Michael Kelly, who is a Jesuit priest in Zambia, South Africa; and numerous nieces and nephews.  Condolences for family members can be recorded on the St. Malachy’s Web site.

The wake will be held on Wednesday, December 10 from 1:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the McLaughlin Funeral Home in Jersey City. The funeral will be held on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Saint Aedan’s Church, also in Jersey City. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Saint Peter’s College in Father Kelly’s memory at www.spc.edu/giving.

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Saint Peter’s College, founded in 1872, is a Jesuit, Catholic college in the liberal arts tradition located in the heart of Jersey City, N.J., with a branch campus in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and course offerings on the Jersey City Waterfront and at various corporate sites throughout New Jersey. Educating over 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students in more than 50 programs, Saint Peter’s College is committed to academic excellence and individual attention, preparing students for a lifetime of learning, leadership and service in a diverse and global society.