Brother Gabriel Kelly, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1869-1951)

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Born Joseph F. Kelly on July 10, 1869 in Washington, D.C., his family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was twelve. He got to know the Passionists there and was employed cleaning bricks at the church when he was thirteen years old. He was a glass worker as a young man and popular participant in the athletic clubs. In February 1894 he surprised his friends by announcing that he was entering the Passionists. During the interview with the master of novices, Father George Basel, he was told to cut off his mustache and come back in a month. He did, returned and was accepted as a brother candidate. He professed his vows on March 22, 1895. His religious name was Gabriel. His first assignment was St. Paul, Kansas where he cared for the refectory and made sandals, an art that he had learned from Brother Sebastian Lehane, C.P. who had been a shoemaker before he joined the Passionists. He had been sent to the novitiate in Pittsburgh to teach the novice brothers the trade. After several years in Kansas he returned to Pittsburgh where he was employed with the same tasks. He took on other tasks and then was assigned to St. Michael’s Rectory, on Pius Street, Pittsburgh where he spent one year as a cook. In 1902 the first group of Passionists were assigned to Scranton, Pennsylvania and Brother Kelly was sent to live at the summer cottage at Harvey’s Lake. The community consisted of Fathers Fidelis, Gregory, Eugene and Brother Kelly. From May 1 to October 22, 1902 the community lived at that site. They then moved to Sloan Street, Scranton which was not far from Round Woods. It was at Round Woods where St. Ann’s Monastery was later built. Brother Kelly worked to provide the material needs for the young Scranton community. In the spring of 1902 he went to Chicago, Illinois. The Passionist bought the Burnham Estate in Norwood Park. He helped to set up that community. When the community was set up he returned to Pittsburgh where he cooked for a year. In 1908 he was sent to Brighton, Massachusetts where another new monastery, St. Gabriel’s was being built. When the Nevins Estate was purchased there were three barns on the property. Two were removed and the largest one was converted into a chapel. The monastery architect made the design for the barn chapel and Brother Kelly, with the assistance of a few men, did the work. This barn chapel received local newspaper coverage and was used as chapel until the fall of 1927 when the basement church was opened and blessed. When the summer home at Shelter Island, New York was purchased Provincial Father Stanislaus Grennan wrote Brother Kelly stating that his services were needed. The task was to make the old farmhouse into a residence. While accomplishing this task he gained the respect of Catholics and non-Catholics on Shelter Island. Later he returned to Brighton to assist with the development of the heating system After short periods in Union City, New Jersey and Baltimore, Maryland, in January 1918 he was assigned to Holy Cross, Dunkirk, New York. The Passionists had acquired the property in 1916 yet the school did not open to students until September 14, 1920. For more than two and one half years Brother Kelly lived in a residence and worked on setting up that new foundation. He remained in Dunkirk until 1924. He then was sent back to Scranton where, like Dunkirk, he was involved in a large amount of cement work. In 1928 he was sent to the Riverdale Residence and then back to Baltimore. In 1948 he returned to Pittsburgh and was there during the great extension and alteration which took place from 1948 until 1950. In January 1950 he was teaching young men in the Pittsburgh community how to make sandals in a shoe shop which he had set up in a new part of the building. He died in Pittsburgh after a short illness.