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Obituary: Father John P. Kelly, former Somerville pastor, passes at 95

Father John P. Kelly Pilot file photo

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Father John P. Kelly passed away Nov. 4 at the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Somerville. He was 95 years old.

Born March 8, 1917, he was one of 10 children of William F. and Catherine M. (Hickey) Kelly of the Mission Hill section of Roxbury. He was the brother of the late Francis, Leo, Thomas, Joseph, Mary, Marguerite, Eileen, Elizabeth and Father Vincent J. Kelly, CSsR of Mission Church.

He studied at St. John's Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Richard Cushing June 29, 1945 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Father Kelly's first assignment following ordination was as assistant pastor of St. Brigid Church in South Boston. In April 1951 he became chaplain of Cambridge City Hospital. Two years later, in March 1953, he was made assistant pastor of St. Thomas More Church in Braintree.

In September 1956 he began what was to become a decades-long ministry at St. Joseph Church in Somerville, being named associate pastor.

Between September 1970 and August 1971 he served as pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Church in South Boston and administrator of Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel and Stella Maris Oratory in Boston.

However, on Aug. 31, 1971, he returned to St. Joseph in Somerville as pastor and moderator of team ministry, which is regarded as the first team ministry in the archdiocese. He went on to minister at the parish for over 35 years, serving as pastor until he was granted senior priest / retirement status by Cardinal Bernard Law on Sept. 1, 1992 and remaining in residence at the parish until 2006. He spent the final years of his life at the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Somerville.

Father Kelly is also remembered as a faithful member of the Pere Marquette Council of the Knights of Columbus in South Boston for 50 years.

His funeral Mass was to be held at St. Joseph Church Nov. 9 with Bishop Robert F. Hennessey serving as principal celebrant and Father Henry J. Jennings as homilist. Designated concelebrants included Msgr. Leonard A. Coppenrath, Father J. Jeremiah Shea, Father Brian J. McHugh and Father Stephen J. Madden. Interment was to be at St. Joseph Cemetery in West Roxbury.

He is survived by his nephew and his wife, John F. Toomey and Elizabeth of Dedham, and his niece, Catherine Duncan and her husband Daniel of Three Rivers, Mass., as well as many other nieces and nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews.

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