Friday, August 20, 2010

Father James Kelly: Flying in the Holy Rosary Mission

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett
Pastor Holy Rosary Mission

Father James F. Kelly: Pastor of Holy Rosary Mission from 1991 to 2002.

The following 12 minute video was prfessionally made in 1994 and produced in Texas. The footage of the late Father Kelly flying around Bristol Bay was shot in the late 1980’s.

Father Kelly crashed into a mountain near Dillingham, Alaska on Palm Sunday, 2002. This video goes out to all Father Kelly’s friends.

Here is a picture of Fr. Kelly and I in May of 2001 (one year before his death). I requested time off during my pastoral year in Kodiak to fly a couple of months with him around the Holy Rosary Mission. We went to so many villiages I cannot even remember the name of the one in the below picture.

Here is the mountain where Father Jim Kelly died, looking to the south west from Manokotak. Here are the GPS coordinates for the crash sight:

N 58 degrees 55.940'

W 159 degrees 15.681'

Highlights of the video include Fr. Kelly talking with the Flight Service Station in Dillingham, Alaska; flying to King Salmon, Clarks Point, and Dillingham, Alaska; beautiful scenery shots from the air; the blessing of the Dillingham fishing fleet; Mass at Saint Theresa, Clarks Point, and Holy Rosary; interviews with Desmond Hurley, Louise Gardener, Archbishop Hurley, FAA employees, and others.

Since recently changed its upload time to 15 minutes per video, the old VHS was digitalized and this 12 minute video was uploaded.

To download this video for yourself, try using the following web address and follow the instructions.

As always, fly safe out there!


Anonymous said...

We miss our sweet Father Kelley every single day. I pray to him for strenght in my faith and I thank God for putting him in our lives so long ago. We loved him so much. Our oldest child Kelli is his namesake. Cindy and Mike Loveless

Wayne said...

This most amazing Man of God touched my life (and the lives of so many more) nearly fifty years ago. As a new Priest just out of the Navy, he came to the small town of Mansfield MA. In a quiet, but dynamic way, he breathed new life and vitality into our Parish.
Three years ago on a small blog, i shared my feelings about and the impact he had on my life.
I must admit there are tears in my eyes now as I reflect on the privilege knowing him.
Just 2 days ago I posed a large group of 50 year old pictures to my Facebook page. Among them was one with the pictures of the Priests we as an age group had grown up with.
Among the shared comments, by all of us who knew him, were these:

Mike Verzola
Fr. Kelly made a mark on me. I really respected him. I worked pretty closely with him in CYO, where I also met the first love of my life, Patty Palanza! I was saddened when Louie Certuse informed me of his death in Alaska.

John Palanza
Father Kelly was not your average Preist. He was in my memories a very special man indeed. I've got a few great stories that I will share soon.

Elaine Nordberg Rock
Fr. Kelly died what he loved doing, flying his plane in Alaska going from church to church performing weddings, masses & whatever else he could do as a priest. Was married by him in old St. Mary's on Church St. in '61

Elaine Nordberg Rock
Fr. Kelly was a special priest w/ gr8 value system & ability to see things as they were & think for himself. Had great faith & understanding.

Lou Certuse
I had a wonderful reunion of sorts with Father Kelley and actually spent two weeks with Father Kelley in Alaska along with his brother Fred. We flew into many fishing villages and canneries and said Mass to just a few people in their living room - or many at his beautiful church in Dillingham AK. One of the most wonderful masses that I ever went to came during a break in painting the windows of the rectory of the Dillingham church he was pastor at. I was covered in paint ( ie more paint on me than on the windows I was painting) - when he said that we wanted to say Mass and asked Fred and I to serve as alter bearers. I said, "Jim you want to say a Mass Now? There I was at this simple Mass with this special priest covered in brown paint thinking that I probably could not have duplicate the reverence for God in my life again. During our trip we flew in Jim's two planes around Mt. McKinley - landed on the Glacier atop it and also flew into and around Kodiak island. I have some great pictures that I will try to scan and post. To say Father Kelley was special is still an understatement. He will always be remembered.

Sharon Rouillard Lopez
Fr. Kelly was a sweetheart. He always went door to door to visit everyone.

Unknown said...

As I learned about Father Kelly's death through postings under a picture that had been posted, I started researching and I was happy to find this 12 min video about Father James Kelly posted this past August 2010. I can't help but thing that I was supposed to find this because it has lead to some amazing conversation about such a wonderful man. Father Kelly was our parish priest when we were growing up in Mansfield. Even as a kid, I knew that he was a very special person. He did not disappoint me:) I am happy that he was able to spend his life doing what he liked best, flying and visiting his parishioners in Alaska. I remember when he took the CYO sailing and would take several of us out in the boat at a time. He was indeed one of the most special people in my life and I am glad that he got to spend his life in this way in such a beautiful place. Thank you for putting this on line.
God Bless... Father Kelly. I am also glad that I have someone else to talk to up there!!

Holy Rosary Mission said...

Thank you for all of the wonderful comments! I was hoping that the video would be appreciated by those who knew and loved Fr. Kelly. The Archdiocese and I are thinking about setting up a monument on top of the mountain where he died, i.e. a large cross and some kind of engraved stone. If you have some suggestions or want to help, let me know. Fr. Scott, Holy Rosary Parish, Dillingham.

Elizabeth Olmstead McBride said...

I was stationed with Fr. Kelly in the Navy, at that time he was a Lieutenant Commander. He was an amazing priest who loved his Marines and sailors. He had such a love of people. That along with his Irish wit made him someone you'd never forget.

I'm glad he died doing what he loved. I had hoped to see him again on this earth but it wasn't to be.

Elizabeth McBride
Navy Nurse

Anonymous said...

What a blessing it was to find this online. I was thinking about Fr.Kelly and googled his name and came across this. Fr.Kelly was the Pastor of the Church I went to in Iwakuni Japan. I was a young man in the Navy and got to know Fr. Kelly. A wonderful man, and priest. I am saddened to hear of his death but know he is with The Lord.

Bill Segreve

Anonymous said...

Father Kelly married my husband and me at the Alameda Naval Base in 1989. We spent extra time with him since we had to postpone our wedding. He was such a nice man and it was a pleasure to meet with him every week. I still get comments from family and friends about how personal he made our wedding. I have always wondered what happened to him and this breaks my heart that he passed. I am happy to know he was doing something he loved.

Unknown said...

Father Kelly was a remarkable man, a great human being and a superb pilot. I was stationed with him at the U.S. Naval Communications Station, Asmara, Ethiopia (now Eritrea) during 1972-74. Father Kelly would fly us from Asmara out to Dahlak Island in the Red Sea off Massawa and we'd snorkel and dive all day and then fly back. I'll never forget those trips. He could drop the plane on a postage size island with no strip and just flutter it in with ease.
I have never forgotten him and think of him often. RIP Father Kelly.
K. A. Dierks, Ltjg, USNR

Dad said...

I am so glad I found this blog. I knew Father Kelly while we were both stationed aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) at Naval Air Station Alameda from 1985-1987. . Father Kelly was our senior chaplain and we spent many hours together while on the carrier in 1986 during our world cruise. He was a very special man and priest. When we were in home port he taught me how to fly as a private pilot at the Oakland Airport Flying Club. I’ll never forget my first solo flight. We had scheduled a night flight for another practice and while we were at the Hold Short mark getting ready to takeoff he just said “You’re ready” and jumped out of the plane right there on the tarmac. The air traffic controller started screaming at me over the radio saying “What’s going on there?.,, somebody is getting out of the plane”. I just told him that it was my flight instructor and that I was soloing so he gave me clearance to take off and that was that. It was an amazing feeling knowing that Father Kelly had confidence in me at that point. I will always remember him. So sorry that he passed but also glad the way it happened as he just loved flying so much.