Rev. John E. "Jack" Kelley

Rev. John E. 'Jack' Kelley, 78

FITCHBURG-SHREWSBURY -- Rev. John E. 'Jack' Kelley, 78, a Worcester Diocese Priest for the past 53 years, died Monday, Feb. 10, at Life Care Center of Auburn, after a long, courageous struggle with Multiple Myeloma and Colon Cancer.

His survivors include his beloved sister, Mary A. (Kelley) Lilley and her husband, James F. Lilley, of Wakefield, MA; his niece, Karen K. (Lilley) Haughey and her husband, Norman J. Haughey, their son, Nicholas J. Haughey, and their daughter, Mary E. Haughey, all of Baltimore, MD; his nephew, John E. Lilley, his wife, Tricia M. (Umile) Lilley, and their daughters, Brooke E., Caroline K. and Courtney G. Lilley, all of Wakefield, MA, as well as cousins, close friends, brother priests, classmates and former parishioners.

He was born on February 17, 1935 in Fitchburg, MA, the son of the late John E., and Florence M. (O'Neil) Kelley. Father Kelley graduated from St. Bernard's Grammar School in 1949 and from St. Bernard's High School in Fitchburg in 1953 where he was Valedictorian of his class. He was a 1957 graduate of College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French. He received a Master of Arts Degree in Religious Education from St. Thomas Seminary and School of Theology in Denver, CO in 1961, as well as a Degree of Bachelor of Sacred Theology in Religious Education from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Father Kelley was ordained a Priest by the Most Reverend Bernard J. Flanagan on May 27, 1961 in St. Paul's Cathedral, Worcester.

Father Jack began his long priestly career by serving on loan for a year to the Archdiocese of Denver. Upon his return to the Diocese of Worcester, he served as Associate Pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Leicester, St. Brigid Parish in Millbury, St. Mary Parish in Uxbridge, and St Mary Parish in Jefferson/Holden. He also served as a full-time Teacher of Religion at the former St. Peter's Central Catholic High School, Worcester. As a Pastor, Father Jack served at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, West Brookfield, St. Bernard's Parish, Worcester, and St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Baldwinville. During his semi-retirement, he returned to St. Mary Parish, Uxbridge, where he served as Senior Priest. In May, 2008, he retired from active ministry and moved into the Southgate Retirement Community in Shrewsbury, but continued to minister in a limited capacity at St. Mary Parish, Uxbridge, St. Anne Parish, Southborough, and other places when needed.

Father Jack pursued several courses at Assumption College in Worcester. During sabbaticals he studied at the School of Applied Theology in Berkeley, CA and at the Vatican II Institute for Priests in Menlo Park, CA.

Father Jack also served on various diocesan committees, including the former Senate of Priest and the Diocesan Vocations Board. He served as Supervisor for thirteen seminarian interns during their formation periods. For many years, he was confessor for communities of religious women. He was also elected Dean of two Deaneries of the Diocese of Worcester. He participated in several ecumenical and interfaith activities. For twelve years Father Jack served as Co-Chaplain at the Templeton Developmental Center in Baldwinville, formerly known as the Walter E. Fernald School. He was a 3rd degree member of the Knights of Columbus since 1964. He was Chaplain of the Uxbridge Council, and in 2008 was honored as a 'Life Member". In his retirement, he served on the diocesan Priests' Personnel Board and also as Dean of Retired Priests.

A lover of foreign languages, Father Jack studied Latin, Classical Greek, French, Spanish, Italian and a bit of Polish. He taught courses in Latin, French and Italian as well as English.

Father Jack enjoyed traveling throughout North America and Europe. He traveled to Ireland twelve times where he visited all thirty-two counties. He especially enjoyed visits with relatives in county Armagh, Northern Ireland. A highlight on his spiritual journey was his 2012 participation in the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.

Father Jack found his greatest fulfillment in serving God and God's people in whatever way he was called. He found great joy in celebrating the sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist, in preaching the 'good news' of Jesus Christ, and in ministering to people of all ages, religions and conditions of life, especially those struggling with issues of health. As a long-time cancer survivor himself, he was active in recent years in various support groups and did much networking among cancer patients.

Father Jack found much joy in spending quality time with his family and friends. He especially enjoyed time spent with his sister, Mary and her husband, Jim Lilley, whose home became his home, and with their children and grandchildren who affectionately called him 'Uncle Jack.'

KELLEY -- The Reception of Father Jack's body into St. Bernard's Parish at St. Camillus de lellis Church, 333 Mechanic St., Fitchburg, will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 12 where he will lie in state during calling hours from 4 to 8 p.m. with a Vigil Service to be conducted at 7 p.m.

A concelebrated Funeral Mass will take place in St. Bernard's Parish at St. Camillus de lellis Church, 333 Mechanic St., Fitchburg on Thursday, Feb. 13, at 11 a.m., with the Most Rev. Robert J. McManus as Principal Celebrant. Burial will follow in St. Bernard's Cemetery, Fitchburg, alongside his beloved parents.

Memorial contributions may made to the Clergy Benefit Plan, 194 Oxford St., Auburn, MA 01501 or to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, 383 Main St., Norwalk, CT. 06840 or to the Retirement Fund of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 99 Church St., Leominster, MA 01453.

The Smith-Mallahy-Masciarelli and Fitchburg Chapel of the Sawyer-Miller-Masciarelli Funeral Home, 243 Water Street, Fitchburg, has been entrusted with Fr. Jack's Funeral arrangements.

See for further information.

Funeral Home

Smith - Mallahy - Masciarelli FH - Fitchburg
243 Water Street  Fitchburg, MA 01420
(978) 345-4151

Published in Sentinel & Enterprise on Feb. 11, 2014