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Pope Francis Names Two Priests Chaplain to His Holiness, Conferring the Title of Monsignor

(MANCHESTER, NH) - The Most Reverend Peter A. Libasci, Bishop of Manchester, announced that His Holiness Pope Francis has elevated two priests of the Diocese of Manchester to Chaplains of His Holiness: Reverend Monsignor Edward J. Kelley and Reverend Monsignor Richard J. Kelley.

“I know that these honors are humbly but joyfully received by all,” said Bishop Libasci. “They serve as a sign to our diocese of the Holy Father’s ongoing recognition of those holy priests, two among many, who have been so dedicated in their service to our Lord and His Church.”

A special installation ceremony with Vespers will be held on Monday, October 1 at 7:00 PM at St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester, with Bishop Libasci presiding.

A brief biography of each recipient and information about the honor follows.

Reverend Edward J. Kelley was born on March 24, 1940 in Boston, Massachusetts, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston on May 26, 1966 by His Eminence Richard Cardinal Cushing, having completed his studies at Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts. After Father Kelley’s ordination in 1966, he was assigned as a specialist in urban ministries in the Columbia Point Section of Boston and subsequently in Charleston, Massachusetts.

In April 1972, Father Kelley entered the US Navy Chaplain’s School at Newport, RI and was subsequently assigned to the Marine Corps Logistics Base in California from July 1972 until July 1974. Lieutenant Kelley was next assigned to Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico where he was augmented into the regular Navy. His next assignment was as Chaplain to the USS GUAM (LPH 9) until August 1978. During this time, Chaplain Kelley was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for his actions during and following a tragic boating accident in the Harbor of Barcelona, Spain. At that time, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and assigned to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina. While there, he also served as a recruit battalion Chaplain and as Assistant Depot Chaplain. Upon promotion to Commander, he was assigned to the USS EISENHOWER (CVN 69) and then awarded a second Navy Commendation Medal.

He next served at the Naval Air Stations in Cecil Field, Florida and Norfolk, Virginia, and in 1986, he was promoted to Captain. As Captain, Fr. Kelley reported to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California where he served as the Command Chaplain and as Brigade Chaplain for the Seventh Marine Amphibious Brigade. He subsequently served as Force Chaplain for the Naval Air Forces, Pacific Fleet. Upon completion of this tour, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and in May 1992, reported to Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC as Claimant Chaplain.

After a 23 year military career, Father Kelley retired from Active Duty with the Navy in February 1995 having received numerous awards, most notably the Legion of Merit Medal, the highest award given by the Department of the Navy in peacetime.

Father Kelley served the Diocese of Manchester as Parochial Vicar in several parishes from 1995 until 1998. During that time, he began the process of Incardination, and on February 17, 1999, Father Kelley was Incardinated into the Diocese of Manchester. On December 16, 1998, Fr. Kelley was named Pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Portsmouth, NH where he served until his retirement on June 21, 2006. Since his retirement, Father Kelley has been and continues to be of tremendous service to the Diocese serving when needed as Administrator of various parishes in transition.

Reverend Richard J. Kelley was born on May 10, 1943 in Boston, Massachusetts, and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Manchester on May 20, 1972 by the Most Reverend Ernest J. Primeau, S.T.D., having completed his studies at Washington Theological Coalition in Washington, DC.

Deeply committed to diocesan matters, Father Kelley served on the Senate of Priests, Salem Deanery, Manchester East Deanery, Lebanon Deanery, and Keene Deanery. He served a three-year term as Chaplain of the Boy Scouts of America, Southeastern District, a member of the Trinity High School Advisory Board, Diocesan Consultor, member of the Diocesan Vocation Board, and Vicar Forane for the Keene Deanery.

Father Kelley served as Parochial Vicar in various parishes from 1972 until 1985, and on October 23, 1985, he was named Pastor of Saint Catherine Parish in Charlestown. In 1987, Father Kelley was appointed Pastor of Saint Patrick Parish in Jaffrey, New Hampshire where he served until June 2000. On June 21, 2000, Father Kelley was named Pastor of Saint Christopher Parish in Nashua. He retired from active ministry on June 27, 2018.

During his time in Nashua, Father Kelley served as Chaplain of Saint Thomas More College and the Nashua Police Department. He was also active with the Vietnamese communities in Nashua and Manchester, and was a member of several Nashua area social service agencies.

Chaplain to His Holiness is a title of distinction given by the Pope in recognition of a priest’s service to the Church. Only those priests who have reached the age of 65 and are considered worthy by their diocesan bishop are eligible for the Honor of Chaplain to His Holiness, with the title of Monsignor. Note that “Monsignor” is not an appointment; rather it is an honorific form of address that can come with a title or honor granted by the Pope.

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The Diocese of Manchester is the Roman Catholic Church in New Hampshire, serving the needs of nearly 235,000 Catholics. For more information, please visit www.catholicnh.org/overview.