Michael Kelly (bishop)

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Michael Kelly
4th Archbishop of Sydney
Saint Patrick's Day parade, 1930s, by Sam Hood (6814185450).jpg
Kelly pictured at the 1939 Saint Patrick's Day celebrations held at the Sydney Showgrounds in Paddington, Sydney. Image captured by Sam Hood.
ChurchRoman Catholic
Installed16 August 1911 (1911-08-16)
Term ended8 March 1940 (1940-03-08)
PredecessorPatrick Moran
SuccessorNorman Thomas Gilroy
Other post(s)Archbishop of Achrida
Ordination1 November 1872 (1872-11-01)
by Thomas Furlong
Consecration20 July 1901 (1901-07-20)
by Francesco Satolli
Personal details
Born(1850-02-13)13 February 1850
Waterford, Ireland
Died8 March 1940(1940-03-08) (aged 90)
Sydney, Australia
BuriedSt Mary's Cathedral, Sydney
NationalityIrish Australian
DenominationRoman Catholic
  • James Kelly
  • Mary née Grant
OccupationAustralian Catholic Prelate
Alma mater
Styles of
Michael Kelly
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference styleThe Most Reverend
Spoken styleYour Grace or My Lord Archbishop
Religious styleArchbishop

Michael Kelly (13 February 1850 – 8 March 1940) was an Irish-born Roman Catholic bishop who became the fourth Archbishop of Sydney.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born at Waterford, Ireland, to James Kelly, a master mariner,[3] and Mary née Grant, Kelly was educated at Christian Brothers’, Enniscorthy and the Classical Academy, New Ross.

Kelly received his seminary formation at St Peter's College, Wexford. and the Irish College in Rome, before being ordained at Enniscorthy on 1 November 1872 by Bishop Thomas Furlong.

Kelly served on the staff of the House of Missions, Wexford and was made vice-rector of the Irish College in Rome in 1891.[3] In 1894 he become rector of the college and as such an important figure in Anglophone Catholicism.

Episcopal ministry[edit]

A statue of Kelly by Bertram Mackennal at St Mary's Cathedral

Elected Archbishop of Achrida In Partibus Infidelium and coadjutor cum jure successionis of Sydney on 20 July 1901, Kelly received episcopal consecration as coadjutor archbishop on 15 August 1901 at St Joachim's Church, Rome, by Cardinal Francesco Satolli.

Kelly eventually succeeded to the See of Sydney on 16 August 1911 on the death of Cardinal Moran.

During the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, Kelly publicly criticised the federal government's "impious refusal" to allow Catholic priests to minister to dying victims, in particular nurse Annie Egan who died without receiving the last rites. He sent a telegram of protest to acting prime minister William Watt, and then when no response was received attempted to enter the North Head Quarantine Station, where he was told he would be arrested if he attempted to enter.[4]

As Kelly continued his crusade for temperance and he undertook extensive fund-raising for Catholic schools. It is estimated that £12,000,000 was spent on scholastic and church properties from the time of Kelly's arrival in Sydney until his death. St Mary's Cathedral was completed in 1928 and statues of Kelly and Moran stand in the main portal.[3] He took a less belligerent attitude to sectarian tensions and political questions such as Irish affairs than Archbishop Mannix of Melbourne.[5]

In recognition of his extensive service to the church, Kelly was named Assistant to the papal throne, associated with the title Roman count, on 25 June 1926. Kelly died in Sydney aged 90, still of sound mind.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archbishop Michael Kelly". The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. David M. Cheney. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  2. ^ O'Farrell, Patrick (1983). "Kelly, Michael (1850–1940)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Vol. 9. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. pp. 556–558. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Percival Serle (1949). "Kelly, Michael". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Angus & Robertson. Retrieved 23 July 2009.
  4. ^ Adams, Michael (3 December 2018). "How one woman's death from Spanish flu caused outrage in Australia". News.com.au. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  5. ^ P. O'Farrell, Archbishop Kelly and the Irish question, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society, 4 (3) (1974), 1–19.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by 4th Catholic Archbishop of Sydney
Succeeded by