Thomas C. Kelly

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The Most Reverend
Thomas C. Kelly
Archbishop Emeritus of Louisville
See Louisville
Appointed December 28, 1981
Installed February 18, 1982
Predecessor Thomas Joseph McDonough
Successor Joseph Edward Kurtz
Ordination June 5, 1958
Consecration August 15, 1977
by Joseph Bernardin
Personal details
Born (1931-07-14)July 14, 1931
Rochester, New York
Died December 14, 2011(2011-12-14) (aged 80)
Previous post Auxiliary Bishop of Washington (1977–81)
Styles of
Thomas Kelly
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Archbishop
Posthumous style none

Thomas Cajetan Kelly OP (July 14, 1931 – December 14, 2011) was Archbishop of Louisville.


Born in 1931 in Rochester, New York, Archbishop Kelly attended Regis High School in New York City. He entered the Dominican Order in 1951 after two years of study at Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island. Ordained to the priesthood in 1958, he subsequently earned a Licentiate in Theology from the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, D.C., in 1959 and a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas Angelicum in Rome in 1962.[1]


Before his episcopal ministry, Archbishop Kelly served in key administrative positions within the Catholic Church in the United States. In 1962 he was assigned as secretary in the Dominican provincial offices in New York City; he also worked with the National Legion of Decency and the tribunal for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. In 1971 Kelly joined the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/United States Catholic Conference as associate general secretary. Kelly moved to Washington in 1965 as a secretary and archivist for the Apostolic Delegation, a position he held until joining the NCCB/USCC. He was elected in March 1977 to a five-year term as NCCB/USCC chief administrative officer and general secretary.

In July 1977, Pope Paul VI named Kelly auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, and titular bishop of Tusuro. He was consecrated a bishop two months later by Archbishop Joseph Bernardin at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. On December 21, 1981, Pope John Paul II appointed Kelly Archbishop of Louisville. He succeeded Archbishop Thomas J. McDonough (1967–1981).[2][3] Archbishop Kelly was the tenth Bishop and third Archbishop of Louisville.

On June 12, 2007, Archbishop Kelly's retirement was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI in accord with Canon 401 of the Code of Canon Law. Pope Benedict simultaneously appointed Bishop Joseph Kurtz of Knoxville, as Archbishop Kelly's successor.


Kelly died at the age of 80, of as yet unknown causes, in his sleep during the night on Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at Holy Trinity Church (where he had been residing since his retirement, in active ministry) in Louisville, Kentucky. In separate statements, the Archdiocese, the incumbent Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer paid tribute to the late Archbishop. On Sunday, December 18, 2011, the Rite of Reception took place at 7:30 PM at the Cathedral, and from 8:00-9:00 PM there was a public visitation. On Monday, December 19, 2011, there was another public visitation at the Cathedral from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, after which there was a Vigil Service. On Tuesday, December 20, 2011, at the Cathedral, the Funeral Mass was conducted, at which many bishops from the area were in attendance.[4][5]


  1. ^ Knights of Columbus: Kentucky State Council. p. 95. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  2. ^ Biography at Archdiocese of Louisville Archived 2007-09-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Catholic Hierarchy
  4. ^ "Funeral Arrangements for Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly | Archdiocese of Louisville". Archived from the original on 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  5. ^ Gabe Bullard. "Former Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly Dies". Archived from the original on 2012-05-13. Retrieved 2011-12-14. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Thomas Joseph McDonough
Archbishop of Louisville
Succeeded by
Joseph Edward Kurtz