Living the Faith: Anne Doherty Kelly

CHARLESTOWN -- This past year, as parishioners at St. Francis de Sales in Charlestown were preparing their parish’s 150th Anniversary celebrations, long-time parishioner Anne Doherty Kelly was asked to research the history of the parish. She found much more than what she expected.

Although Kelly knew that her family has been involved at St. Francis de Sales for five generations, she did not realize how intertwined her family and her parish actually were.

“Writing the history of the parish was like writing the history of my own family,” Kelly said. “My family and parish and the history of both all blend together.”

Kelly has been a parishioner at St. Francis all her life. She was educated in its parish school; received all her sacraments within its doors; sent her four children to the parish school and continues to find nourishment for her faith at St. Francis.

According to Kelly, the Dominican sisters who taught at the school were instrumental in her family’s faith formation -- one of her sisters even entered the order.

“(The Dominicans) were such a strong piece in my life and in the lives of my children,” she said. “They taught us that faith, family, friends and education -- and what you do with them all -- were the most important things in life.”

This philosophy is what Kelly has relied on throughout her life. As she was raising her four children, she would often recall those words. Twenty-three years ago, when Kelly was widowed at the age of 50, it was that philosophy that led her to go back to school and become a program supervisor at the Boston Community Centers.

“Anything I have ever accomplished, I owe to my faith,” she said, adding with a smile, “I need my faith much more than my faith needs me.”

“Faith is such a gift, and we’ve lived it in our family. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Today, Kelly is proud to see that her children continue to value their religion, with three of her grandchildren also receiving their sacraments at St. Francis de Sales.

“The greatest compliment I ever had in my life was when my daughter said to me, ‘Mom, I want my children to have what we had.’ That was a great day for me,” she recounted.

For Kelly, it all comes back to her parish.

“I love my church,” she said. “Sitting on the top of Bunker Hill it is the highest steeple in the archdiocese.”

“It has been very vital to my life. I couldn’t have lived the life I’ve lived without it,” she said.

St. Francis de Sales Parish, Charlestown

Year established -- 1859

Pastor -- Father Daniel J. Mahoney

In residence -- Father Martin Okwir

Assisting Priest -- Father Charles Crowley, SJ

Business Manager -- Joan Rae

Nurse Ministry Director -- Maryellen Cotter

Music Director -- Maria Bachini

Organist -- Ryan Lynch