Francis Kelley

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Francis Clement Kelley
Bishop of Oklahoma
Francis Clement Kelley.jpg
SeeOklahoma City
In officeJune 25, 1924—February 1, 1948
PredecessorTheophile Meerschaert
SuccessorEugene J. McGuinness
OrdinationAugust 23, 1893
Personal details
Born(1870-10-23)October 23, 1870
Vernon River, Prince Edward Island
Previous postPriest of Detroit

Francis Clement Kelley (October 23, 1870 – February 1, 1948) was the second Roman Catholic Bishop of Oklahoma City, as well as an author and diplomat. He was a Catholic priest for 54 years, and bishop for 23 years.

Early life[edit]

Francis Clement Kelley was born in Vernon River, Prince Edward Island, Canada. His early education and seminary training were in Canada and Belgium, and he was ordained a priest for the diocese of Detroit, Michigan, in 1893. In 1905, he founded the Catholic Church Extension Society of the United States and was elected its first president. The Extension Society continues to promote the mission of the Catholic Church in rural and mission areas of the United States. Kelley also founded and edited the quarterly Extension Magazine, which had more than 3 million subscribers during his administration. In addition to his editorial duties, he authored numerous books

Father Kelley was active in war and diplomacy during his day, and he served as a military chaplain during the Spanish–American War. As a diplomat, Kelley represented the bishops of Mexico during the World War I Peace Conference in Paris. He also initiated unofficial negotiations between the Vatican and the Italian government for a settlement of the Roman Question. Two years after the war, Kelley was sent to England by the Vatican to settle postwar differences over German and American missions. As president of the Extension Society, Kelley also represented the Mexican bishops during the Carranza Revolution. He established a seminary in Texas for exiled Mexican seminarians and clergy.

His sister was the poet Lucy Gertrude Clarkin.


Styles of
Francis Kelly
Mitre plain 2.png
Reference styleThe Most Reverend
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleMonsignor
Posthumous stylenone

Kelley was consecrated Bishop of Oklahoma City in 1924. During his years as Bishop, he successfully resisted the agitation of the KKK and continued his work as the "Extension Bishop." Like other missionary dioceses in the country, Oklahoma received funds from the Catholic Extension to build and to furnish churches. In 1931 Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church became the new cathedral for the diocese.[1] Under his care the infant diocese grew to maturity. Bishop Kelley died in Oklahoma City.

In 1932 Bishop Kelley succeeded Bishop Joseph H. Conroy of Ogdensburg as Chairman of the Bishops Catholic Committee on Scouting. Under his leadership the Catholic Committee expanded to include 22 Archbishops and Bishops, one from each Ecclesiastical Province in the United States.

In 1934 the American hierarchy approved a "Plan of Cooperation" recognizing Scouting as serving the church's interest in the spiritual welfare of Catholic youth, and approving it as an approved youth program in the Church. Bishop Kelly was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America with the Silver Buffalo Award in 1939, the first member of the catholic clergy to be so recognized.

The Diocesan high school, Bishop Kelley High School, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as well as Bishop Kelley Catholic School, in Lapeer, Michigan, are named for Bishop Francis Kelley.

Books Written by Francis Kelley[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Our History". Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Retrieved 2011-09-01.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Theophile Meerschaert
Bishop of Oklahoma City-Tulsa
Succeeded by
Eugene J. McGuinness