Meet our priests: Father Bill Kelly

Parish assignment: Office for Clergy Support and Ongoing Formation

Place of birth: Dorchester, Mass.

How many brothers and sisters do you have? I’m the oldest of six...two brothers and three sisters

High school: Boston College High School

College: Undergraduate -- St. John’s Seminary College 1984

Graduate 1 -- Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, STL 1989

Graduate 2 -- Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, STD 1996

Seminary (Theology) -- North American College, Rome

Date of ordination: June 25, 1988

What assignments have you had since ordination?

I’ve served at Sacred Heart in East Boston, St. Paul’s in Hingham, doctoral studies at the Gregorian University in Rome, 10 years as a spiritual director and professor at St. John’s Seminary and three years in the Clergy office. I’ve been helping at Holy Family in Rockland on the weekends for 13 years.

What have been some of the greatest joys for you as a priest?

I love having the privilege of assisting people in seeing how Christ and the Church really do answer the meaning and purpose of life, whether through celebration of the sacraments, leading retreats or in one on one conversation.

Who influenced your vocation the most to consider the priesthood?

Certainly my parents, brothers and sisters and extended family have helped me. Father Neil Heery and other priests who served at Sacred Heart in North Quincy were also instrumental. In a real way, two towering figures at the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School were crucial: Dr. Theodore Marier and Mrs. Rita Waldron.

What events or practices in your life helped you to discover and discern your call to the priesthood?

I’ve been blessed to be involved with Church music for over 35 years. Its impact, and the various persons I have come to know because of it, is inestimable. Also, my connection with parish youth groups and activities at BC High were very influential.

What is one of your favorite scripture passages and why?

Psalm 25:4-5 has long had hold of my heart: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me: teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.” In a simple way, it reminds me that when I follow the Lord’s lead, all will be well. And one more... as I get older, 2 Cor. 12:9 “The Lord said to me, My grace is enough for you, for in weakness power reached perfection.”

What are some of your hobbies?

I come from a big family of performers, so music, theater and movies are important elements of my life. Of course, making time to read, walk and do some cooking for family and friends is always a welcome break. I’m also trying to spend more time with my 16 nieces and nephews!

What advice would you give to a young man who is considering the priesthood?

Trust that the thought itself is an invitation to a closer relationship with God. Test it out by taking the time to pray, especially at Mass and in quiet before the Blessed Sacrament. Important, too, is talking about it with a priest or other adult who understands how Jesus calls people to serve Him. Also, check out the many websites that speak about vocations.

What are some of your favorite books/spiritual reading/magazines?

I love the novels of Tolkien, Potok, and Dickens. Father Tom Dubay’s spiritual writings are very rich; Blessed Mother Teresa’s writings are full of love. I regularly read America magazine, much improved over the past few years, and Opera News has great articles about the classical music world. In recent years, I’ve spent a lot of time downloading and reading texts from the Vatican and beyond, available through the Internet.

Through the cardinal, God is calling each of us personally to help rebuild His Church. How must the priest respond to this mandate today?

A priest has several anchors in his life: daily Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, quiet prayer, a regular awareness of his promise of chaste celibacy and respect and obedience to the bishop, and a zealous commitment to bringing Jesus Christ to His people through our priestly ministry and pastoral charity. Strengthened by hope and fortified with holy friends and a ready sense of humor, a priest helps the Church be revealed as the Body of Christ that she is.

When Cardinal Seán came to Boston, he wrote a Pastoral Letter entitled “Vocations: Everybody’s Business.” What are some ways that we can help all individuals and families understand their role in promoting and supporting vocations?

We should all be talking about vocations, reminding one another that God has a plan for each of us. In that atmosphere, whether around the kitchen table at home or from the pulpit or in the classroom, ears, minds and hearts will be made more sensitive to God’s call to marriage, priesthood, consecrated life, or a faith-filled single life.

Featured Websites

Upcoming Events in the Vocation Office

> Nov. 14: Young Adult Encounter with Jesus at St. Leonard’s Church in the North End 7-10 p.m.

> Nov. 20: Christ speaks in the City at the Old State House in Boston 12-1 p.m.

> Dec. 11: Christ Speaks in the City at the Old State House in Boston 12-1 p.m.

‘Meet our Priests’ is produced by the Office for Vocations of the Archdiocese of Boston.