Abbot Kelly was quiet leader in difficult time

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[Abbot Timothy Kelly] is also remembered as a strong leader who helped start the healing process for the community at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., during a troubled time in its history.

Webmaster’s Note: Much of the following, with regard to abuse at St. John’s, is revisionist history. [ View ] Shame on the Abbey for using Timothy Kelly’s death as a public relation’s tool.

Abbot Kelly was quiet leader in difficult time

He is remembered as a shy, quiet man of deep integrity who promoted dialogue and understanding with other faiths. He is remembered as a kind and approachable mentor who helped men hone their understanding of monastic life.

He is also remembered as a strong leader who helped start the healing process for the community at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., during a troubled time in its history.

Those who knew Abbot Timothy Thomas Kelly say he dedicated his life to God, monasticism and teaching. At the end of his life, his grace in dying taught them still, said the Rev. Columba Stewart, who had known Kelly for more than 20 years.

Kelly died Oct. 7 of cancer of the esophagus. It had been diagnosed last Good Friday, Stewart said.

On April 11, Kelly wrote to the community at the abbey: “I am very much at peace with this and not afraid of dying. The past several years have been wonderfully grace-filled years for me. Your prayers are very important to me and I promise my prayers for you as well.”

He was born Thomas Daniel Kelly in Milwaukee, Wis., on April 20, 1934, and was the youngest of six children — five of them boys. The family moved to Minneapolis, where Kelly attended public school through the sixth grade. He attended Annunciation Parish School for seventh and eighth grade and then St. Thomas Academy in St. Paul. He entered St. John’s University in Collegeville as a divinity student.

After two years of college, Kelly applied for the novitiate at St. John’s Abbey, receiving the religious name of Timothy. He became a Benedictine monk in 1955, earned a degree in philosophy from St. John’s University in 1957 and was ordained a priest on June 3, 1961.

He taught at St. John’s, in Mexico and in the Bahamas. He served a parish in the Bronx in New York City. In 1980, he was appointed master of novices at St. John’s Abbey where he was “a father figure” to Stewart.

“He was strong, but also very loving and very approachable,” Stewart said. “He cared and was very concerned with my life.”

In 1986, he was one of six American monastics selected by the Dalai Lama to visit Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in India. In 1992, Kelly was elected the ninth abbot of St. John’s Abbey and fostered involvement in the countries and culture of the Pacific Rim.

When allegations of sexual abuse by clergy at the abbey began to surface, he took steps to help healing begin, Stewart said. In 1993, he and former St. John’s University president Brother Dietrich Reinhart started the Interfaith Sexual Trauma Institute at St. John’s.

Bishop John Kinney of the St. Cloud Diocese said Kelly provided “a tremendous example of leadership, in bringing together perpetrators and victims for healing to begin.”

Stewart said that throughout that time, Kelly reminded the community of its rich history “and all of the good we had done and the many hardworking generous monks who were part of our history.”

Kelly served as abbot until 2000.

He was preceded in death by his parents and four brothers. He is survived by his sister, nieces and nephews and many close friends.

A funeral mass will be held Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in St. John’s Abbey Church.

Abbot Kelly was quiet leader in difficult time
http://www.startribune.com/obituaries/104746759.html
James Walsh • 612-673-7428

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