Kelley, Francis Clement

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Bishop, founder of the Extension Society; b. Prince Edward Island, Canada, Nov. 24, 1870; d. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Feb. 1, 1948; the son of John Kelley, a merchant, landowner, and senior partner in the firm of Ely & Kelley, and Mary (Murphy) Kelley, the daughter of an Irish political exile. Kelley attended Laval University in Quebec, where he studied at Nicolet Seminary and was ordained a priest on August 24, 1893, for the Diocese of Detroit, Michigan. Kelley was appointed pastor of Lapeer parish. In 1905, he founded the Catholic Church Extension Society of the United States, and was elected its president. The following year, its headquarters, and Kelley himself, transferred to Chicago, Illinois; there for 19 years he presided over the society, raising its receipts to almost $1 million annually.

Kelley founded and edited the quarterly Extension Magazine, featuring articles on home mission activities and fiction by Catholic writers. Under his direction, the magazine had more than 3 million paid subscribers. Not merely a gifted editor, Kelley was a popular lecturer and author of more that a dozen books. His two most prominent works were: Blood Drenched Altars (1935), a controversial account of the church in Mexico; and The Bishop Jots It Down (1939), an autobiography written, it has been said, with the encouragement of H. L. Menken.

Kelley was widely active in war and diplomacy. He served as chaplain in the Spanish-American War; and as a diplomat, Kelley represented the bishops of Mexico during the World War I Peace Conference in Paris. He initiated unofficial negotiations in Paris with Premier Vittorio Orlando of Italy for a settlement of the Roman question, and two years after the peace conference, was sent to England by the Vatican to settle postwar difficulties over German and Austrian missions. As president of the Extension Society, Kelley represented the Mexican bishops during the Carranza Revolution and established St. Philip Neri Seminary at Castroville, Tex., for exiled Mexican seminarians and clergy, while collecting money for their relief. Similarly, he was active in raising funds to assist the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Canada, in times of financial crisis.

In 1924, he was named bishop of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma. During his episcopate, Kelley successfully resisted the agitation of the Ku Klux Klan and continued his mission work as "the Extension Bishop." Under his care the infant diocese grew to maturity.

Bibliography: j. p. gaffey, Francis Clement Kelley and the American Catholic Dream. 2 vols. Bensenville, Ill., 1980. m. j. oberkoetter, o.s.b. "A Bio-Bibliography of Bishop Francis Clement Kelley, 18701948." M.A. thesis, Rosary College, River Forest, Ill., 1955.

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Kelley, Francis Clement

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