Father Joel Kelly, OSB
Kelly, Father Joel OSB Daniel Joseph Kelly was born on 1 September 1939, in Darwin, Minnesota, the fourth of five children of Stanley and Verna (Lindberg) Kelly. Following graduation from Litchfield High School, Daniel enrolled in Saint John's University in 1957 as a priesthood student and, after his second year, was accepted as a novice in Saint John's Abbey and given the monastic name of Joel. He professed first vows on 11 July 1960. Continuing his priesthood studies, Father Joel was ordained on 4 June 1966. Father Joel's first assignment was chaplain and theology teacher in the Preparatory School. During the summer months he enrolled at Loyola University, Chicago, where he earned a MEd degree. In 1970, Father Joel joined the Saint John's mission of San Antonio Abad, Humacao, Puerto Rico, teaching religion and serving in local parishes. Father Joel returned to Loyola University where he received a second master's degree in counseling in 1976. The following year he was assigned to Saint Boniface Parish, Cold Spring, followed by seven years at Ingall's Memorial Hospital, Harvey, Illinois, as a clinical supervisor of the in-patient alcohol addiction program and later as the director of education and training. Father Joel returned to Saint John's in 1984 as the University chaplain, a position he held until 1992. The next ten years, while living on campus in the student dorms, he was a full- time chaplain at the Saint Cloud Department of Corrections, and the following year he assisted at Saint Augustine Parish, Saint Cloud. Father Joel's concluding ministry was as chaplain for nearly fifteen years in the 340-bed San Bernardino Hospital, California. In August 2019 Father Joel was diagnosed with advanced Bulbar ALS, which he accepted with admirable patience and resignation. Subsequently, he returned to Saint John's where he lived in the abbey's health center. Father Joel was a model of generous and thoughtful Benedictine hospitality, a compassionate and jovial presence, respectful and welcoming of all people, with a ready display of Irish wit and humor. His classmates counted on him as a reliable fact-checker of names, events, and dates. He was a sports enthusiast, a big fan of the Johnnies, especially football and basketball, with a soft spot for the Vikings and Twins. Father Joel died on Monday, June 8 in the Abbey retirement center. He is survived by his sister, Karen Hartneck, Crystal, and three brothers, David, Bloomington, Jerry, Chandler, Arizona, and William, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and the community of Saint John's Abbey. The monks, family, and friends will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Joel at 10:30 am (live- streamed at saintjohnsabbey.org/…) on Saturday, June 13, in the Saint John's Abbey and University Church with interment in Saint John's Cemetery following the service. The monastic reception of the body and wake service in the abbey church at 7:00 pm, Friday, June 12, will also be live-streamed.
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