Funeral Mass, Fr Vincent Kelly, SAC. Monday 12th December 2022.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Ballinlough, Cork.
We gather to participate in the funeral Mass of Fr Vincent Kelly, or VJ, as he liked to be called, he said his Dad would call him that.
We gather to celebrate his funeral Mass, to pray for him and to commend him to the God from whom he came. We also gather to celebrate Eucharist, which in the Greek means ‘thanksgiving’, thanksgiving for Fr Vincent, for his life, his faith and his ministry of 63 years as a priest, in short, for all he was to us.
He loved this Church of Our Lady of Lourdes and he loved this parish community and so it was his express wish to have his funeral Mass celebrated here; but I can safely say that he loved ALL the places where he ministered and he loved all the parish communities where he exercised ministry: starting off from Argentina immediately after ordination, then within the Pallottine community, and in the Diocese of Cork and Ross as Chaplain to Bishopstown Community School, Blackpool, Dunmanway and here in Ballinlough, and indeed his chaplaincies and the years he visited Haven Bay in Kinsale as chaplain. He loved them all, because he loved people, he loved ministry, and his faith expressed itself in being available to people and in responding to them.
So today we gather and we give thanks. It is heartening to read the condolence messages posted on RIP.ie and to know of what he did, how he was present in people’s lives and how he was loved by so many who were touched by him in ministry.
We, his Pallottine Community, give thanks and honour him, remembering the early years of priesthood from 1959 to 1971 in Argentina; his years as Pallottine Vocations Director, and indeed Bro Steve Buckley and myself are products of that time along with Fr Eamonn Monson who should be here but is delayed in Stanstead airport, and others of our confreres – he referred to us always as ‘my boys’; and while he worked in Cork from 1979 onwards he remained an active member of our local community in Thurles and participated in all our events, celebrations and activities.
We, this faith community gathered here, share Fr Vincent’s faith and the readings of his funeral Mass express our common faith.
The first reading is from the Old Testament, from the Book of Job, read by Joan Kelly, his great and loyal friend over many years. Job was a man who experienced multiple human misfortunes and who struggled honestly with the question of suffering and of faith in a good God. Job argued about these questions with his three friends and yet, in this reading today, Job is able to make an expression of faith that is very clear and strong “I know that my Redeemer/Avenger lives…”, God lives, God is a living God for Job; then he continues and we hear of his trust in an afterlife “in my flesh I shall see God, I will behold him face to face and find him not aloof”. This we trust is Fr Vincent’s state now; he sought God all through his life and now sees him face to face.
The second reading is from the New Testament, from the First Letter of St John, read by Bro Stephen Buckely, and this reading is a favourite of mine, John the Evangelist wrote it when he was a very old man and was full of faith based on his life experience. St John outlines for us some truths:
‘think of, or reflect on, or consider, the great love God has lavished on us’, an invitation especially pertinent in this holy season of Advent, to think afresh on the great love God has bountifully showered on us; we are children of God, a simple and direct affirmation; what we are to be in the future is unknown, it is not very clear, but, what we know is that when it is revealed we shall be like him (God) for we shall see him as he is.
Fr Vincent sought God in faithful prayer and now is being transformed into God.
The Gospel reading is that of the Beatitudes, taken from chapter 5 of St Matthew’s Gospel. I was thinking over which Gospel reading to choose for Vincent’s Mass as I reflected on his life and this reading stood out. We know the Gospel as that of the Beatitudes, or the Blessed, or the Happy, and this Gospel expressed the heart of God in Jesus Christ, we hear the choicest virtues, attitudes and ways of living which Jesus himself incarnated and which we too can strive for.
Vincent, in his own way, strove to live the Beatitudes … in his attention to other and to their needs. Jesus proclaims ‘Blessed are; the poor in spirit, the meek and gentle, the merciful, those who mourn, the pure in heart, those who hunger and thirst for what is right …’ and all of these affirmations of Jesus are fitting and applicable for Fr Vincent to a degree. I am going to invite you now to think of Vincent, to go over in your mind again the Blesseds and then to choose which of these beatitudes strikes you most when you think of Fr Vincent. I did this on Saturday evening and I was surprised by what I came up with, it is “Blessed are the pure in heart”, and I think that this one struck me while thinking of Vincent because there was something childlike and ‘pure of heart’ about him and which he kept all through his life. And, I believe that his ‘purity of heart’ was his focus on ministry for others.
We, his Pallottine family, thank you all who are here today, Bishop Fintan Gavin, Fr Gearoid the Parish Priest, his friend Fr James McSweeney, the concelebrating priests and each of you here this afternoon. Thanks to his very wide circle of friends and very kind neighbours; a special word of thanks to Joan Kelly and her late husband Terry Kelly, your family Joan was Vincent’s family; sincere thanks to his next door neighbours Sheila and Will, you were exceptionally good to him and supportive of him. To one and all “Go raibh mile maith agaibh go leir” or in tribute to Fr Vincent’s early years in Argentina “Muchas gracias a cada uno de ustedes”.
Fr Derry Murphy SAC
Eulogy by Brendan Kelly
Good afternoon everybody. Father Vincent, or, ‘Vincey’ as dad affectionately referred to him as, was an integral member of our household for as long as I can remember. Although not a direct relative, Fr Vincent was one of us. His friendship with dad began in Farranferris as school buddies and their loyal friendship remained for the many years afterwards.
When Fr Vincent’s mother, Kitty, (a lady he took great care of) required fulltime care and he was at a loose end, the hand of support was extended and a simple invite to Sunday dinner at that time was the start of a long and valued friendship with the whole extended family. Sunday dinner was a norm but quickly led to Fr Vincent joining us each Christmas; Easter; any family occasions including what he liked to refer to as ‘Roundy Birthdays’. He was part of the family and was always figured into whatever event or occasion we planned to celebrate. He officiated at all our weddings and his homilies during these services were always inclusive of a very personal touch making the occasion all the more special.
It is ironic that Fr Vincent should pass away at this time of year as he loved Christmas time. He loved it so much you’d find Christmas decorations on display at all times of the year in his home. It was also this time of the year, the Planning Office in Cork City Council would need to be preparing for Fr Vincent’s Christmas crib which was progressively getting bigger and bigger as the years went on. The straw would meet you at the front door as you entered and he would then proudly show off his latest creation. The fact that you could hardly get in past it was not an issue for Fr Vincent who would already be future planning new additions to it.
Today is a celebration of Fr Vincent, and we remember our own individual relationship with him: whether that be, a priest, an advisor, a friend or even, a confidant. Fr Vincent was extremely kind, caring, enthusiastic and always showed a keen interest in you, and who you are. He would always have a kind word or provide sensible advice if needed, and he was an extremely effective listener. His personality shone through at every meeting. He had a type of young at heart outlook which endeared him to all and sundry. He was a man that knew what he wanted and he loved nothing more than the after dinner chat and banter around the dinner table where his clear sense of humour was always on display.
Now Fr Vincent loved his food. No doubt about that. His appetite for life matched that of his appetite for mum’s cooking, and the menu in his favourite Barn restaurant. His favourite course was always the ‘dessert’, where ice cream would always be chosen. Did he love ice cream!! I mentioned he was a man that knew what he wanted, and he would regularly arrive at home armed with an apple tart or other sweet treat. You might be saying, Ah that that’s nice. He brought a gift and didn’t arrive empty handed. No, No, No. That’s what he wanted. The apple tart! With ice cream! A subtle reminder of the existence of his gift would be provided after dinner, just in case it was overlooked. We weren’t complaining either as now we have two different desserts. Good man Father Vincent.
He also was a man who knew what he didn’t want however, and there were a few dinner ingredients that could not be introduced to him. Parsnips, were a major no-no! And he wouldn’t be long telling you if they were served anywhere near him. He could never give a reason why he disliked them so much. He just was not having them under any circumstances. Once while out for dinner, I recall he served himself with a good helping of what he thought were chips but to discover the chef had sliced parsnips into a similar shape. He was disgusted. That dinner was ruined!
Fr Vincent was an extremely well read individual and has an extensive collection of books. He had a keen interest in history. His interests ranged from reading to photography to gardening and I remember he used to golf regularly enough in previous years. I’m not too sure about what his handicap was like but he was a trier! His garden was his pride and would not walk out of a garden centre without a new purchase. He loved spending time tending to his plants and invested largely in his lawns. He was also a man that excelled with technology and loved gadgets. Sure, he was a regular on Facebook or Instagram and it also this time of year I remember you would receive Fr Vincent’s Christmas message via a virtual Christmas card.
It was evident to all that knew Fr Vincent, that he loved life. He was alive. He had a large network of friends – far and wide – with whom he maintained contacts. He had huge regard for his close friends and wonderful neighbours who looked out for him, and were literally on his doorstep to assist when required.
In his article of 2014, titled ‘The Best Time of my Life by Fr Vincent Kelly’, he writes, “..dear friends, as an 81+ year old myself now and still, thank God, working four days a week, ….and if I may say with some confidence, experience and the ups and downs of 50 years, …., please remember that whether it’s yesterday, last week, last month or a day last year or fifty years ago, each day has been the best time of my life., and, hopefully, in your lives also.”
“…So live for today and prepare for tomorrow’s new adventures and challenges which surely will come our way……enjoy the journey of life and may God accompany you on the road….” This sums up the man that was Fr Vincent, and his outlook on life.
So on behalf of the family and no doubt I speak for many of you here today when I say, Thank you, Father Vincent, for your friendship. Thank you, Father Vincent, for your wisdom, kindness and support. Thank you Fr Vincent for giving each of us so many happy memories. Thank you Fr Vincent for your humour, and last but certainly not least; thank you Fr Vincent for your sincere interest in our lives.
Fr Vincent will soon be laid to rest with his parents in Rathcooney cemetery but while we bury his body, we will not bury his spirit;
We bury his mind but not his dreams;
We bury his voice but not his message;
We bury his hands but not his good work;
We bury his heart but not his love for life and those people around him.
May Fr Vincent rest in peace.
Our confrere Vincent Kelly has died this morning December 8th at Haven Bay Nursing Home, Kinsale, Co.Cork. Indeed he had been Chaplain there for many years.
Vincent was born on July 2nd 1932. He made First Consecration on September 17th 1954 and was Ordained on June 14th 1959.
At the time of his death he was the oldest member of the Province.
May his good soul rest in peace
Please remember Vincent who was the eldest member of our Province in your prayers.
KELLY Fr VINCENT SAC (Pallottines) (Silversprings and Pallottine College Thurles, Co Tipperary): On December 8th, 2022, Fr VINCENT died peacefully, after a short illness at Haven Bay Care Centre, dearly loved son of the late Joe and Kitty Kelly, Silversprings.
Lovingly remembered by his Pallottine Community, the Kelly family Ballinlough, cousins and a wide circle of friends, former parishioners and very kind neighbours.
Reposing at Barry Bros. Funeral Home, Hazelwood, Glanmire on Sunday (December 11th) from 4.00pm to 5.00pm.
Reception of remains in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Ballinlough, on Monday 12th at 12.45pm, for Concelebrated funeral Mass at 1.00pm which can be viewed on
Burial immediately afterwards in Rathcooney Cemetery.
“Mary Queen of Apostles pray for him”