“Archbishop Kelly brought the graces of holiness, humor and humility to his ministry in the church, including at the U.S. Bishops’ Conference in Washington where he served faithfully as General Secretary. His broad vision made him comfortable in the world of ecumenical and inter-faith relations at the same time that his acute awareness of the people in front of him made him a sensitive pastoral leader and a mentor of conference staff. He was a wonderful homilist who could convey the deepest theological truths in an accessible manner to everyone in the congregation. His presence was a blessing to all who met him.”
Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
Pres. of the United States Conference of
Msgr. Ronny E. Jenkins
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
“Archbishop Thomas Kelly was a true Churchman. He had a keen interest in all matters pertaining to the Church and to its mission and spent himself in its service. As my Metropolitan Archbishop and the principal celebrant at my consecration as a bishop I always felt a special paternal and fraternal bond with him. He will surely be missed.”
Most Reverend Roger Joseph Foys, D.D.
Bishop of Covington
“I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Archbishop Kelly. He was a dear friend and fellow Bishop for many, many years. He served the Church unselfishly in positions of great responsibility. He did so with great unselfishness and love for the Church and its people. I pray that his life will continue to be an inspiration to many people for many more years. May God rest his soul.”
Most Reverend William Anthony Hughes, D.D.
Retired Bishop of Covington
“Archbishop Thomas Cajetan Kelly, O.P., was a proud son of St. Dominic. With his passing, we have lost a faithful shepherd who preached the Word of God eloquently and served the faithful with a great sense of compassion. Archbishop Kelly’s humor, joyful expressions and his remarkable ability to share practical and fruitful stories will never be forgotten.”
Bishop of Knoxville
“The death of Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly, OP is a personal loss for me, but one I know is echoed by thousands who shared his love for the Lord and the Church. It was a privilege to know him throughout all of my years as priest, having been ordained by him only months after he came to Louisville in 1982. When I was called to be the Bishop of Owensboro, I looked to him as the ultimate model of being a father, brother and friend to priests.
When he first came to Louisville he was apologetic that his vast experience and service to the Church had not included ministry as a parish priest. But he had a genuine pastor’s heart and emulated the model of Jesus Christ as priest and Good Shepherd. It was one of his great joys that in these recent retirement years at long last he had the opportunity to be a parish priest at Holy Trinity.
An immeasurable joy is mine in that only last week I enjoyed a wonderful evening with him. His usual warmth, intellect and joy were in full glory. I shall miss him, but rejoice that he will spend this Christmas at the banquet of Our Lord in heaven.”
Most Reverend William F. Medley, D.D.
Bishop of Owensboro
“As we grieve the sudden death of Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly, we thank God for the 80 years that God gave us this unusual servant to the Church and a friend of so many of us. Archbishop Kelly was a kind, humble, and caring priest and Archbishop. I have many memories of our many years of friendship but the one that I am most grateful for is that he ordained me as the Bishop of Owensboro 29 years ago this very month. I will miss him as will all of his many friends. The Church will miss his great leadership that he gave all his life. Archbishop is Home for Christmas. May God grant this faithful servant with an eternity of Happiness with Him.”
Most Reverend John McRaith, D.D.
Retired Bishop of Owensboro
“The death of Archbishop Kelly gives us cause to ponder how he touched our lives. Personally, I feel the loss on a number of levels. He ordained me as a deacon and priest, and served as one of the co-consecrators at my episcopal ordination. I served with him as judicial vicar and on various committees. He was a wonderful mentor to me in so many ways.
The greatest impact on me, however, was during our time together at Holy Trinity Parish. Following his retirement as Archbishop of Louisville, Archbishop Kelly came to live at the parish. At the beginning he expressed some concerns: “Chuck, I don’t know how this is going to work. I have lived either alone or in community. This is the first time that I have lived one-on-one with another person.” I cannot speak for him, but our time together was an incredible blessing for me. He became more than my Archbishop and mentor, although these roles never waned, and became a dear friend. I feel quite blessed to have shared these last years with him.
The final blessing of his life for me came as recently as the weekend before his death. In October, Archbishop Kelly made the comment that he would like to see my new home in Evansville. We agreed that he would visit on Friday, December 9, and Martine Siegel, the Pastoral Associate at Holy Trinity, drive him to my house. I had contacted Bishop Medley of Owensboro and invited him to join us for dinner. We had a wonderful evening. Archbishop Kelly spent the night in Evansville, and we had breakfast on Saturday morning, December 10, before his return to Louisville. We embraced one last time before he left. What a gift!
Finally, I would like to share a thought that Archbishop Kelly often expressed when we ministered together at Holy Trinity: “I’m ready whenever God wants to take me. I want to see the face of God.” While I share the grief and pain of his death with so many, I rejoice for him. I will miss his face, but I take consolation in the realization of his hope to see the face of God. He loved and served the Church with all his heart, mind, and soul.”
Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson, D.D.
Bishop of Evansville
“My first meeting with Archbishop Kelly just after my appointment to Lexington was announced set the tone for our fraternal relationship. He was the epitome of graciousness, kindness and gentleness. His wisdom gained through such wide ecclesial experience will be greatly missed. He took great delight in his priests and in gathering the bishops of the province, radiating interest and support for our lives and ministries. I join the Archdiocese in praying for the repose of his soul and in thanking God for the gift of his life and generous ministry.”
Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer, D.D.
Bishop of Lexington
“The Province of Louisville has lost a tremendous bishop who gave of himself, a good shepherd who cared for the people entrusted to him, a great religious who lived his life in Dominican fashion. He was a mentor, counselor, and friend to me whom I deeply admire. With his passage to the Heavenly Kingdom, we have gained an advocate.”
Most Reverend J. Terry Steib, S.V.D.
Bishop of Memphis
“Bishops and priests die and except in very unusual circumstances, they leave no progeny. But that does not mean that they leave no survivors, people who loved them in life and mourn them in death. The news today of Archbishop Kelly’s death renews my love and respect for my friend, even as I mourn his passing. My grief is singularly rooted in that fact that I had no chance to say farewell, to thank him for his friendship and support, and to spend always delightful time with him in the last year. That is my fault not his. But I suspect I am not alone in these thoughts for all who knew him as archbishop, bishop, father, brother, or friend will also feel that someone special has passed from this life to life with God. We mourn not so much for him today, but for ourselves – what we might have said and done had we known the hour when the Master would return. Whenever he would call me on the phone, he always, unfailingly began with these words: “Kelly here.” Now I must wait my time to hear that greeting, hopefully, once again. For the moment I can think only of his humble, witty, ever patient presence in my life in good moments and those not so good. For twenty-five years plus five more, he served a Church which won a large portion of his heart away from his Dominican community and that was no small feat for he loved being a Dominican. I will join that community and his brothers in religious life in thanking God for his wonderful presence in my life at his funeral. I will leave his gravesite saying farewell to a genuinely holy man who loved lots of us to death. “
Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, D.D.
Bishop of St. Petersburg
“On behalf of myself, and the priests, deacons, religious, and lay faithful of the Diocese of Nashville, I want to express our heartfelt sympathy to Archbishop Kurtz and everyone in the Archdiocese of Louisville for the loss of Archbishop Kelly. Through the years, Archbishop Kelly has been a wonderful brother to the bishops of the Province of Louisville. His care as a spiritual father often was expressed in his concern for the well-being of the Diocese of Nashville. He was consistently supportive and kind. He will be missed.”
Most Reverend David R. Choby, D.D.
Bishop of Nashville
“We are saddened by the news that Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly, who led the Archdiocese of Louisville from 1982 to 2007, died Wednesday, December 14, 2011. Archbishop Kelly was both a close friend to the Congregation and a great supporter. He will very much be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the members in his larger community of faith.
Most recently Archbishop Kelly joined the Congregation for the Opening Ceremony of the 200th anniversary of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth that took place on December 3. We were so very grateful that he was able to be present for this historic event as he was also present for our 175th anniversary celebration. In 1992, during our General Assembly, the Congregation presented him with Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget’s ring, which was given to the SCNs in 1912.
We greatly admired his work in many areas including social justice, civil rights, and welfare reform. Archbishop Kelly was extraordinarily committed to building up the Archdiocesan family and to fostering dialogue, especially among interfaith groups. This was always an important part of his ministry throughout Kentucky and beyond.
Archbishop Kelly was close to many members of our international Congregation and we know there are prayers and words of sadness being expressed by our Sisters around the world. He was truly a brother in Christ to us.”
In the name of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth,
Mary Elizabeth Miller, SCN Susan Gatz, SCN Teresa Kotturan, SCN
President Vice President Vice President
“How blessed we were by the presence in our lives of Archbishop Kelly, a wonderful man who was unassuming, full of compassion, keenly intelligent, and a friend to religious communities. Many of his contributions to faith, life and ministry were behind the scenes and included development of lay leadership and the priesthood, fostering interfaith relationships, and supporting Catholic healthcare. He was a truly holy man whose devotion, humor and humanity will be sorely missed by us all, not only in the Archdiocese of Louisville, but throughout the Church and the greater community.”
Sr. Kathy Green, RSM
President, Sisters of Mercy-South
“On behalf of the clergy and people of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky, let me express my deepest condolences to you and the clergy and people of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville at the death of Archbishop Thomas Kelly. His ministry of seeking and serving Christ in all people will have a lasting impact on this city and Commonwealth. He was a friend to Episcopalians, and a dear colleague to my predecessor. Though he and I only met once, it was quite apparent that he was a humble pastor and devoted priest and bishop, with a great sense of humor. He was a gracious soul.
Know of my prayers for you and all in your archdiocese in the coming days. I join you in offering thanks to Almighty God for his ministry here, and pray for the repose of his soul. May +Thomas rest in peace and rise in glory.”
The Right Reverend Terry White
Bishop of the Diocese Kentucky