Fr. Patrick Kelly SCC, Dunboyne Curate and Martyr

 It is fitting that we recall in February 2015 that the 70th anniversary of the killing of Father Patrick Kelly S.C.C. occurs at this time.
Fr. Kelly is not a name that overly familiar in Dunboyne yet his memory is preserved by a plaque under the altar to the Blessed Virgin in Dunboyne Church. Indeed that altar was erected as a mark of the respect of the Dunboyne faithful to his name.
  Fr. Kelly was born on February 10th, 1899 in Tullamore, Co. Offaly which is of course in the Diocese of Meath..Having attended St. Finnian's College in Mullingar, he entered Maynooth where he was ordained in 1915. He served as Curate in the Parish of Dunboyne and Kilbride from 1915 until 1921. Following his time in our parish, he joined the Columbans Order in 1921. 
 Fr. Kelly was obviously a man with great abilities for he helped to establish the Columbans in Australia. He also served as Spiritual Director to the Brothers who were resident in Dalgan Park, the mother ouse of the order. He was sent to the Philippines in 1929 where he became the first Cloumban Superior. Malate Parish was to be his base. In Malate was the "Convento" or central home of the order in that country. with him in Malatewere four other Columbans: Johnny Heneghan, Peter Fallon, John Lalor and Joe  Monaghan, Fr Heneghan later took over as superior in the Philip[pines.
 There was a large english speaking community in the parish which was in Manila. These were mainly American Catholics, 
 The Japanese invaded the Philippines ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbour on December 8th, 1941. The American fleet left left days later for Java. general Douglas Mac Arthur left in March 1942. Any resistance soon crumbled after that and the fate of those left behind was a cruel one.It is estimated that between 500, 000 and one million Philipinos died during the occupation.
 During this time American civilians were interned in Santo Tomas University in Manilla while many U.S. prisoners of war were held in Bilibid and Cabanatuan. Fr. Kelly insisted on visiting these Americans interned in Santo Tomas as he declared he was  their Parish Priest.
 The Convento apart from being home to the five Columbans was a centre for storing medicines and food. Despite the dangers associated with resisting the Japanese there was a very strong underground resistance movement in the Philippines. The rebels used to smuggle these supplies into the internment and P.O.W. camps. 
 General MacArthur returned to the Philippines in October 1944 and despite suicidal defending by the Japanese Army, the Americans began to make inroads. The islands of Leyte and Mendoro were cleared of Japanese troops by December.
  Matters were not improving in Manila though.The battle for the city commenced.  
 Word appears to have got out about the role the Convento was playing in seeing to the food and medical needs of "rebel forces" and the Japanese took action. Japanese Navy personnel surrounded the convento in Malate. The Kempeitai or Military Police of Japanese army marched twenty men away. Fathers Kelly, Heneghan, Fallon and Monaghan were arrested too. The .Kempeitai were seen as being more of a secret police force than a normal military police force.The four priests were never seen again.
 The date given for their execution is February 10th.
 Their comrade, Fr. lalor did not outlive them too long. On February 13th, Fr. Lalor was killed when a shell exploded in the hospital compound in which he was working at the time.
 The care that Fr. Kelly and his community showed to the Americans in Manila was not forgotten. Letters arrived to Dalgan Park which told of their "heroic work". 
 The Medal of Freedom is the highest honour that the U.S.A. awards to non-American civilians. It was awarded posthumously to Fr. Kelly, Fr Lalor and Fr. Heneghan. 


That the priests were engaged in this humanitarian work would seem to be confirmed by the award (posthumous) of the Medal of Freedom by the U.S. Government to Fathers Lalor, Kelly and Heneghan some years after the war. The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian decoration, which the U.S can give to non-U.S. nationals.

 

Japanese Navy personnel surrounded Malate church and took every male they found
(20 in all), along with four priests of Malate parish - Johnny Heneghan, Pat Kelly,
Joe Monaghan and Peter Fallon.The four were marched away by the Kempeita
and never seen again. Their bodies were never recovered.

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