Lives Remembered

Co Antrim-born priest was innovator in religious education

Fr Donal Kelly was an ecclesiastical inspector of schools in the Down and Connor diocese

FR Donal Kelly will be remembered for introducing new methods of teaching religious education as well as for his warm and lively character.

He was dynamic in his engagement with children in the role of ecclesiastical inspector in the Down and Connor diocese - and they responded with eagerness.

In parish ministry in Co Down, Fr Donal continued his visitation of schools and encouraged good liturgical music in choirs.

A gifted singer who loved plain chant, he often led the Divine Office himself at the funeral Masses for deceased colleague priests.

Fr Donal was born in Glenshesk, in the parish of Ballycastle, Co Antrim in October 1928.

He was educated in the local primary school, then for a year in St Colman's College in Newry, followed by six years in Belfast's St Malachy's College.

After studying classics and philosophy at Queen's University and theology in St Patrick's College, Maynooth, he was ordained in 1954.

Fr Kelly completed a higher diploma in education before being appointed ecclesiastical inspector for schools.

Fr Colm McCaughan, his schoolboy friend and lifelong colleague, joined him in that ministry two years later.

As well as modernising religious education programmes, Fr Donal brought distinguished theologians and catechists to renewal programmes for both teachers and priests.

He later served as a curate in Upper Mourne and as parish priest of Saintfield, Dundrum and Ballykinler.

Fr Donal was also on the Diocesan Priests Council and on the Board of Governors of both St Joseph's and St Mary's Colleges of Education.

He retired through illness in 2003 and went to Dublin to be cared for by his sisters until entering residential care.

After many years of illness Very Rev Donal Kelly died on February 21 and was buried in the Kelly family plot in Deansgrange Cemetery after Requiem Mass in the Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock.

May he rest in peace.

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Lives Remembered