Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church
Flint, Texas - Father Tim Kelly, Pastor
Deacon Larry Gottschalk
The parish office is staffed by three great ladies. Sonia Escobedo, Father’s Pastoral Assistant. Ann Connor works part-time in the finance office. Marge Devereaux answers the phones and helps Father K and everyone else to do their jobs.
We lived in the house my grandfather built for his new wife in 1912 at Lismakeera. I still wake up in the mornings thinking that I am in my lovely Lismakeera. My grandmother lived with us for the first fifteen years of my life. She was such a mine of information and history Some of her history was a bit biased, but I still attribute my love of history to her great influence. I am a teacher by profession, a primary teacher actually. I got bored and frustrated with teaching after a few years. I retain the very greatest respect for primary teachers, for their love for their children and the patience they show dealing with parents. I did love the children, but I was too young and arrogant to deal with parents. But teaching was a great base from which to begin life as a priest. I learned so much of what I do today in the classroom in Ireland.I came here to Texas at the invitation of the second bishop of Tyler Edmond Carmody. I can still remember that my parents and my mother’s sister came with me to Shannon to say goodbye. I arrived on May 12th 1995 at Pounds Field dressed in a heavy wool suit. We had hit turbulence on the way from Dallas, so that when Bishop Carmody saw me, he must have wondered whether he had made a serious mistake. I studied at St Mary’s Seminary in Houston and was ordained on May 15th 1999 in the Cathedral of Tyler.
My first assignment was at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler. I spent two wonderful years there, learning and teaching. When I eventually left to go to Italy, I was sad for three months at the parting. I hope that I made some solid friendships in the cathedral parish.
I was sent to do further studies in Rome from 2001 to 2004. It was a terrific experience and I learned so much about the history and the theology of the Church. I had some of the finest teachers in the world of Catholic theology today, men like Gerard O’Collins S.J., George Lawless O.S.A., Basil Studer O.S.B. Anthony Merideth S.J., Robert L. Wilken, and others. I graduated from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 2003 with a license in Patristic Theology and the History of Theology. I studied in Rome for a further year and I am still working on writing a thesis. In Rome, I buried myself in the tradition of Catholic theology. I enrolled at the Gregorian University as part of their patristic studies program. I also took classes at the pontifical Patristic institute near St. Peter’s Square. I took one class each week at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, so that I might get a comprehensive appreciation of the writers we call Fathers of the Church.
Within a few weeks of coming to Rome, I fell under the spell of Augustine of Hippo. Father Nello Cipriani of the Augustinianum held me speechless with his classes on the young Augustine. Fr George Lawless, another Augustinian friar, taught me more in a few weeks than I ever though I could learn. By the end of my first semester, I was hooked. I wrote my Master’s thesis on Augustine and the great doctor’s sermons and writings still fill any free moments. I remember that as I sat in class one day at the Augustinianum, the bells of the angelus boomed out from St. Peter’s. I looked out the window at the square and all the glory of Michaelangelo’s masterpiece. I murmured to myself; “Kelly, you have come a long way, a very long way indeed!!”
I was in Murcia in southern Spain when the Bishop of Tyler called me to say that I was to be assigned to Flint. My cousin has a house there and she had loaned it to me for a few weeks. I had deliberately left my cell-phone in Rome, so that I could get some work done. But when the bishop could not track me down in Rome, he phoned my mother in Ireland. When I arrived back at the house from a day-trip to see the Alhambra, the German couple next door told me that they had received a call from Ireland telling me to phone my bishop. I used their phone and called Tyler to speak to Bishop Corrada. He told me the good news. A few days later, Bishop Corrada was in Rome for the Texas bishops’ ad limina visit. We had many chats about the future of Saint Mary Magdalene.
I returned here to Flint in September 2004. The rest, as they say, is history.
My name is Tim Kelly, I was born and raised in Askeaton, Co Limerick in the southwest of Ireland. My parents were farmers, and my father also worked as a butcher. Mother is still living in Askeaton. She lives with my brother Tom. I am the younger of two boys, and I was born on Good Friday 1957.
Growing up in Askeaton was easy. Tom and I cycled to school two miles away. We never even thought about danger on the way, nor did anyone else. We knew who lived in every house along the way, and they knew us. I was terrified of school, always afraid that I would be punished for not knowing my lessons. Looking back, I wonder at all that, because I was actually quite bright. But I realize now that I was lacking in self-confidence, and that even later in life as a teacher, I never really believed in my own abilities. It was only at seminary in Houston that I began to appreciate my own abilities as a scholar.