Parishioners of St Joseph's in Highgate, north London, rose a glass recently at their popular social club to Fr Christopher Kelly who joined their parish in 1978.
Christened Francis Joseph Kelly, he was born in Belfast on 2 April 1919, one of seven children to parents Michael and Margaret Kelly. His older brother James worked, with distinction, for the Irish Independent.
Francis/Fr Christopher was educated by the Christian Brothers in Belfast and attempted to join the Passionist Order in Ireland but was unable to as there were no vacancies.
On 3 January 1939, he got on a boat from Belfast to Heysham to join the Passionists at Broadway in Worcestershire. He recalls that 'it took a long time to adjust to life in a monastery. The whole day was spelt out by what was called the religious observance'.
Eventually, he was ordained on 28 April 1945 and sent to be the priest in a little parish in Addington where, he says: "I was my own boss there."
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