Born: 20 September 1891, Blackrock, County Dublin
Entered: 29 February 1912, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained:31 July 1923
Professed: 15 August 1929
Died: 11 October 1978, Caritas Christi Hospice, Studley Park Rd, Kew, Victoria, Australia - Ranchiensis Province (RAN)
Part of the Manresa, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia at the time of death
Younger brother of Thomas P Kelly - RIP 1977
Transcribed HIB to ASL : 05 April 1931; ASL to RAN : 22 March 1956
Vice-Provincial Provincial Australia: 1 October 1947-1 November 1950
Provincial Australia: 1950-1956
Superior of the Australian Jesuit Mission to Hazaribagh Mission India : 1956-1962
by 1915 at Stonyhurst England (ANG) studying
by 1922 at Leuven, Belgium (BELG) studying
Transcribed HIB to ASL - 05 April 1931; ASL to RAN 22 March 1956
◆ Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University onlne
Kelly, Austin Michael (1891–1978)
by J. Eddy
J. Eddy, 'Kelly, Austin Michael (1891–1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kelly-austin-michael-10674/text18973, published first in hardcopy 1996
Catholic priest; school principal; schoolteacher
Died : 11 October 1978, Kew, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Austin Michael Kelly (1891-1978), Jesuit provincial and missionary, was born 20 September 1891 at Blackrock, County Dublin, Ireland, fifth child of Edward Kelly, commission agent, and his wife Teresa, née Burke. Educated at Belvedere College, Dublin (1903-08), and at the National University of Ireland (B.A., 1911), Austin entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus on 29 February 1912 at Tullabeg and took his first vows on 1 March 1914. Following a short juniorate at Rathfarnham, he was sent in September 1914 to study philosophy at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, England. He returned to Dublin and taught (1917-21) at Mungret College. In 1921-25 he studied theology at Louvain, Belgium, and was ordained priest on 31 July 1923.
After serving his tertianship at Tullabeg, Kelly was posted to Australia in 1926 as prefect of discipline and sportsmaster at Xavier College, Melbourne. On 15 August 1929 he took his final vows. He was minister (1928-30) and rector (1931-37) of St Aloysius' College, Milson's Point, Sydney, and founding rector (1938-47) of St Louis School, Claremont, Perth, the first Jesuit establishment in Western Australia. Cultured, deeply pious and meticulous, he was an outstanding headmaster, ever on the alert to encourage the initiatives of the young teachers he was training, even when he would not himself have done the things they were doing, or done them the way they did. He soon became one of the most prominent and influential churchmen in Perth, and a trusted adviser to ecclesiastical and secular leaders.
In October 1947 Fr Kelly was appointed by Rome to head the Australian province of the order, which, from his base in Melbourne, he steered towards final autonomy from the Irish Jesuits. In 1950-56 he had charge of the newly created Australian and New Zealand province. He judged that the increased membership of the order—which was growing towards its maximum of three hundred and fifty—justified expansion of its works, and he seized the initiative by undertaking the management of new schools, parishes and university colleges in Hobart, Adelaide and Brisbane. Businesslike and energetic, Kelly exerted to the full the organising ability that his long experience in office had honed. His determination, rhetorical skill and wide circle of influence ensured that the works of the order, and with their success its morale, would flourish.
Some considered his standards impossibly high and his manner unduly autocratic. When he accepted, on behalf of the Australian Jesuits, the challenge of maintaining a foreign mission in Bihar, India, and when the first group of six were sent to Ranchi in 1951, a few critics warned that resources would be overstretched. In this enterprise, however, as in many of his projects, Kelly's thinking was far ahead of his time. He long held that the considerable achievements of the Australians in the Hazaribagh-Palamau region ranked among the most visionary and generous national gestures of the period. On the conclusion of his provincialate in Australia he was appointed superior of the Hazaribagh Mission, and set off in September 1956 on a new phase of what had, in many respects, always been a missionary career.
In Bihar, Kelly was in some ways ill-attuned to the national style which the Australian Jesuits had adapted to India, and his health had become impaired. But he doggedly saw out six years of administration, planning, exhortation and visitation; and he enlarged the foundations of the mission by liaison with an expanding number and variety of religious and secular 'co-missionaries'. In 1962 he returned to reside at the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception at Hawthorn, Melbourne, where he was based (except for the year 1964 which he spent at Lavender Bay, Sydney) until he went in 1974 to Caritas Christi hospice, Kew. He died there on 11 October 1978 and was buried in Boroondara cemetery.
Impressively able, distinguished in appearance, urbane, energetic and imaginative, Kelly was a remarkable 'lace-curtain' Irishman who had become an enthusiastic and loyal patriot in his adopted country. He was impatient of the mediocre, a practical leader rather than a natural scholar, and he remained a staunchly private man, despite his whole-hearted pursuit of public goals and cultivation of a wide circle of prominent friends. Very dedicated to the educational and spiritual projects of his Church and order, he was ecumenical in outlook and sustained a lifetime cultivation of books, fine arts, music and theatre.
U. M. L. Bygott, With Pen and Tongue (Melb, 1980)
Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 2 Oct 1947
Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Sept 1966
West Australian, 21 Oct 1978
Society of Jesus, Australian Province Archives, Hawthorn, Melbourne.
◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
Austin Kelly was educated at the Jesuit school Belvedere College 1903-1908, and at te National University of Ireland (BA 1911) and entered the Society of Jesus 29 February 1912. After a short Juniorate at Rathfarnham Castle, he studied Philosophy at Stonyhurst, England from 1914. His Regency was an Mungret College 1917-1921. He went to Louvain for Theology, being ordained 31 July 1923. Tertianship was at Tullabeg, 1925, and he was solemnly professed 15 August 1929.
He was appointed to Xavier College Kew, as Prefect of Discipline and Sportsmaster in 1926, and then sent to St Aloysius College, Milsons Point from 1928-1937, being Rector from 1931. He was founding Rector of St Louis School, Perth, 1938, and was appointed Vice-Provincial in 1947, and Provincial from 1950-1956. Then he became Superior of the Australian Mission in Hazaribag, India, 1956-1962. Ill health forced his return to Australia, and to the Hawthorn Parish, Melbourne, 1963, where he remained until his death.
Cultured, deeply pious and meticulous, , he was a good rector in the schools, ever on the alert to encourage initiatives of the young teachers he was training, even when he would not himself have done the things they were doing, or done them the way the did. As Rector, he emphasised the importance of traditional Jesuit education, as outlined in the “Ratio Studiorum”, as well as the importance of producing good Christian gentlemen in the tradition of the English Public School.
In Perth, he soon became one of the most prominent and influential churchmen, and a trusted advisor to ecclesiastical and secular leaders.
It was during his term as Vice-Provincial that he steered the Province towards final autonomy from the Irish Jesuits. In 1950, the Region was created a full Province under Austin Kelly’s guidance. He judged that the increased membership of the Order, which was growing towards 350, justified expansion of its works, and he seized the initiative by undertaking the management of new schools, parishes and University Colleges in Hobart, Adelaide and Brisbane. Business-like and energetic, he exerted to the full the organising ability that his long experience in office had honed. His determination, rhetorical skill and wide circle of influence ensured that the success and morale of the works flourished.
Some considered his standards impossibly high, and his manner as unduly autocratic. When he accepted, on behalf of the Australian Jesuits, the challenge of maintaining a foreign mission in Bihar, India, and when the first group of six were sent to Ranchi in 1951, a few critics warned that resources would be over-stretched. In this enterprise, however, as in many of his projects, his thinking was so far ahead of his time.
In founding the Mission, he realised a lifetime ambition. He had always wanted to e a missionary, and in many respects he had always had a missionary career. It was recounted that when the question of when to make Australia a Province was being discussed, it was only he who wanted it in 1950. Many believed the timing was not right, but he wanted to start a Mission, and higher Superiors gave in to his wishes.
When he went to Bihar himself in 1956, he was in some ways ill attuned to the national style that the Australian Jesuits had adapted to in India, and his health became impaired. Bur, he doggedly saw our six years of administration, planning, exhortation and visitations, and he enlarged the foundations of the Mission by liaising with an expanding number and variety of religious and secular “co-missionaries”.
Impressively able as well as distinguished in appearance, urbane, energetic and imaginative, he was a remarkable “lace-curtain” Irishman, who had become an enthusiastic and loyal patriot of his adopted country. He was impatient of the mediocre, a practical leader rather than a natural scholar, and he remained a staunchly private man, despite his wholehearted pursuit of public goals and cultivation of a wide circle of prominent friends. Very dedicated to the educational and spiritual projects of his Church and order, he was ecumenical in outlook and sustained a lifetime cultivation of books, fine arts and music.
Note from Thomas Perrott Entry
He spent the rest of his working life at St Louis School, Perth. He helped Austin Kelly set up the school in 1938.
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 23rd Year No 4 1948
Fr. Leo Donnelly who has been offered to the Viceprovince of Australia, completed his course at Kurseong recently (he was professor of Church History) and sailed on the SANGOLA for Hong Kong on 10th September. “As it proves impossible”, he writes, “to secure a passage direct to Australia within reasonable time, Fr. Austin Kelly has given me permission to travel via Hong Kong. It was quite easy to book a passage to that port, and Fr. Howatson has booked a berth for me from there to Melbourne. Needless to say, I am delighted at the chance of seeing the Mission, even if I am not to stay there. The ship for Australia will not sail till near the end of October, so that I shall not be at Fr. Kelly's disposal till sometime in November. This, however, is quicker than waiting for a direct passage”.