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James F. Vanderholt

KELLY, EDMUND A. (1870–1955). Edmund A. Kelly, Catholic priest and college administrator, was born in County Galway, Ireland, on December 7, 1870. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Mungret College in Ireland and studied graduate theology at Mount St. Mary's of the West Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. He subsequently moved to Galveston, Texas, to live in the rectory of St. Mary's Cathedral. His internship was personally supervised by Nicholas A. Gallagher, bishop of the Diocese of Galveston, who ordained him to the priesthood on July 2, 1899. Father Kelly was then made assistant to the cathedral parish under its pastor, Msgr. James Kirwin, and placed in charge of missions at Alvin, Dickinson, Smith Point, Groveton, and La Porte. On New Year's Day 1903 he was transferred to Port Arthur, where he established St. Mary's Parish, the first Catholic parish in town, and built a church and rectory. From St. Mary's, Father Kelly traveled by bicycle across the county to Hamshire to care for the Catholic community.

He was transferred to Waco on April 25, 1910, to pastor Our Lady of the Assumption Parish. He was named a diocesan consultor on the same day. In Waco he purchased property and built a new church. In 1919 he was transferred to St. Anthony's Church in Beaumont, where he added marble columns and extensive art work and built a new rectory, convent, and high school. The resultant St. Anthony parish school system of twelve grades was fully accredited in 1925 by the Texas Education Agency.

Many honors came to Kelly during these years. He was named diocesan vicar of religious, then dean of the Beaumont area. The pope made him a domestic prelate (monsignor), and Bishop Christopher E. Byrne appointed him vicar general of the diocese, the highest office under the bishop. In 1926 the bishop appointed Monsignor Kelly president of St. Mary's Seminary in La Porte. He kept his post at St. Anthony's and, in 1928, left the seminary presidency and returned to full-time parish work. He resigned his pastorate and all other offices on August 10, 1954, and died on January 5, 1955; he is buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Beaumont. A high school in Beaumont was named in his honor in 1964.


Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin. Diocese of Galveston-Houston, Files, Houston. Robert C. Giles, Changing Times: The Story of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston in Commemoration of Its Founding (Houston, 1972).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, James F. Vanderholt, "KELLY, EDMUND A.," accessed August 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fke52.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on November 12, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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