The Funeral Mass for the late Fr Paddy (PJ) Kelly took place at St Dympna’s Church, Kilnadeema, Loughrea, Co Galway on 20 January, following his unexpected death on 14 January in the Parochial House, Kilnadeema.
The Principal Celebrant was Bishop Michael Duignan of Clonfert, assisted by Bishop-emeritus John Kirby, Fr Malachy Flanagan (SMA Provincial Leader) and Fr Seamus Nohilly (SMA Community Leader, Claregalway). More than 60 other priests – from Clonfert, Tuam and the SMA, also concelebrated the Mass. St Dympna’s Church was full to overflowing with the children from the local National School and other parishioners forming a wonderful choir, singing hymns familiar to all – including Fr Paddy’s favourite, Hail, Queen of Heaven.
Monsignor Cathal Geraghty, Vicar General of Clonfert, was MC, ensuring that the Mass was a prayerful celebration.
The hymn, Our Lady of Knock, reminded us of his great devotion to Our Lady. The hymns – Here I am, Lord and How Lovely on the Mountains are the feet of him… – reminded us of his 32 years of missionary work in Nigeria and Tanzania. The Offertory hymn – All that I am, all that I do – echoed the words of many people who said that one of Fr Paddy’s trait was his total availability to others, never rushing away from anyone but giving them his undivided attention. We were reminded of his closeness to God with the hymns Christ be beside me and the Recessional hymn, Nearer My God to Thee. As his body was laid in the hearse for his transfer to St Joseph’s SMA Church in Wilton, Cork, the assembled clergy sang that beautiful Marian hymn, Salve Regina (Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy…).
Among the concelebrating clergy were diocesan classmates from the 1980 Maynooth Ordination class, Fathers Gerry Burns and Pat Donnellan as well as SMA classmates, Fathers Colman Nilan and Martin Kavanagh.
Before the Mass commenced four symbols – Fr Paddy’s Breviary (Prayer book), a photo of the Kelly family, a Yoruba carving of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus and a picture of St Dympna – were brought to the Altar. Their significance was explained by a nephew of Fr Paddy, Greg Healy.
Part of the Morning Prayer for the Dead took the place of the Penitential Rite of the Mass.
The Readings for the Mass were taken from Wisdom 4:7-15; 2 Timothy 4:1-2, 6-8 and Matthew 25:31-40. After the Gospel, Fr Martin Kavanagh gave the homily.
The Prayers of the Faithful were read by Fr Paddy’s sisters, Catherine and Eileen, three of his nieces Amanda, Laura and Niamh and a cousin’s daughter, Anne-Marie, and one of the St Dympna’s parishioners. During these Prayers, we remembered Fr Paddy’s deceased parents, Denis Snr and Eileen [née Lyons], his late sister Veronica and his nephew, Donal. The Light of heaven to them all. Fr Paddy’s only brother, Denis, was unable to attend due to serious illness and he too was prayed for as well as Olive, a friend of the family.
Two other sisters, Mary and Dympna, brought the bread and wine to the Altar for the Mass.
Before the Prayers of Commendation and Farewell, Pat McLoughlin [representing the Parish Council] reminded everyone of the shock felt at Fr Paddy’s untimely death. He spoke of Fr Paddy’s great concern and care for the elderly, the sick and the youth of the parish of Kilnadeema and Aile. He always had time for people and was never in a rush. Fr Malachy Flanagan, SMA Provincial Leader, in his remarks said that “Fr Paddy, or PJ as he was known to us in the SMA, was a respected and valued member of the SMA”. He thanked Bishop Kirby for accepting Fr Paddy to minister in the diocese and also thanked Ms Irene Leahy for her assistance to Fr Paddy as well as the sacristans and other parishioners.
Along with Bishop Duignan, he expressed his sympathy to Fr Paddy’s sisters, Mary, Catherine, Patricia, Eileen and Dympna and his brother, Denis and the wider Kelly family. Fr Paddy’s last surviving uncle, John Lyons, joined his nieces for the Mass.
Bishop Duignan expressed his thanks to the SMA for permitting Fr Paddy to serve in the diocese of Clonfert.
At the end of the Mass, Fr Paddy’s five sisters and cousin, Mary, wheeled his body out of the Church to the waiting hearse.
The family, Bishop Duignan and Fr Flanagan SMA are grateful to Monsignor Cathal Geraghty and to Mr Sean Cleary and the staff of Kilboys Funeral Undertakers, Loughrea, for all their assistance following the death of Fr Paddy.
Ki Oluwa te e si afefe rere (Yoruba, Nigeria)
May the Lord carry him on a gentle breeze.