An Enterprising Priest – Fr Michael Kelly

Michael KellySo just over a week ago I began an appeal to help raise funds for my upcoming book Space for Grace: Stories from the Catholic Chaplaincy at Queen’s University Belfast. So far the response to this appeal has been absolutely unbelievable. I currently have just over 20% of the funds raised…which is astonishing!! I can’t thank you all enough. It would be great if folks could keep donating, and really no donation is too small. Remember for anyone who donates will receive an acknowledgement in the final book (unless you wish to remain anonymous) and anyone who donates £25.00 or more will receive a special signed copy of the book. You can also make a donation as a way to gift a book for someone else. Everyone who gives to this appeal will be invited to the official launch night at which point copies of the book will be available to purchase (at a lower price).

On top of this as a goodwill gesture I remain committed to my pledge to place 20% of any money which I personally stand to make from the sales of this book into a fund which other young writers can apply to.

I am posting this update today and am focusing on one of the reasons as to why I wanted to put this book together. The picture above is of a priest named Fr Michael Kelly. In 1943 Fr Kelly was appointed as Dean of Residence to the Catholic Chaplaincy at Queen’s University Belfast. By all accounts Fr Kelly was a truly remarkable priest. it was he who was the first full time Catholic chaplain to the University and was charged with the moral and spiritual care of Catholic students. Catholics had been forbidden from attending Queen’s University until 1909…this is just over one hundred years ago. It was not until the passing of the 1947 Education Act (Northern Ireland) that grants were made available for Third Level Education which truly opened the doors for Catholic students. This was less than 70 years ago! Fr Kelly was met with an influx of many Catholic students. For these young adults, an education (a third level one at that) was something to be cherished and what it meant to be a student was something they were immensely appreciative of.

Within two years Fr Kelly established the first Catholic Chaplaincy at Queen’s University Belfast on Fitzwilliam Street. Just over a year later the university chapel would be solemnly blessed and opened for the celebration of the Eucharist as well as Eucharistic Adoration.

These are things which I know I take for granted all too often in my life. In reality so many people – the likes of Fr Michael Kelly – had to work for many years so that the likes of me could go on to university and attempt to achieve my potential. I am incredibly grateful to him. In many ways I feel as one who has tread the boards as a student at Queen’s University Belfastand spent much time in the The Catholic Chaplaincy at QUB that I am indebted to this magnificent man. I hope that when this book is published it will go a small way to repaying this debt in the hopes that all who read it and who have their own memories of the Catholic Chaplaincy at Queen’s University Belfast might offer up a prayer in thanksgiving for his efforts. Fr Kelly was truly one of the Diocese of Down and Connor ‘s trailblazers. God bless you Fr Kelly.

Remember folks, if you would like to donate money to the funding of this book you can private message me for details or send payment through PayPal to domoreilly14@gmail.com

If you know anyone who you feel would be interested in the funding of this book please tag away or get in touch. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks again!

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