Fr Dan Kiely

On Sunday 24th January, 2021, our diocese lost a devoted priest, Fr Dan Kiely.

Fr Dan died in Ireland after a long illness. Canon Kevin O’Driscoll, parish priest of Holy Family Catholic Church and Dean of the pastoral Area in Slough, knew Fr Dan most of his life. They were priests together  at the start of their priestly ministry and became good friends throughout their lives. Canon Kevin was asked to offer these words at Fr Dan’s funeral:

I feel I must not intrude too much into the tributes that Dan’s beloved family wish to give today but I am most grateful to them for asking me to give a few words to be read out on this occasion.

My name is Kevin O’Driscoll and, like Dan, I am a priest of the Diocese of Northampton. I am speaking on behalf of myself, my family and our bishop, Bishop David Oakley.

Dan and I were assistant priests together in the Cathedral and later he was my parish priest in Luton. Ever since we have remained close friends. In his own quiet, unassuming way he taught me so many things. He taught me what St. Paul meant when he instructed his readers to “make hospitality your special care”. Dan warmly and continually welcomed people into his home and into his life. And he had a disarming charm about him. When a young mother phoned to ask to have her child baptised there was no harsh “how often do you come to Mass?” but rather, “tell me about your daughter. I imagine she is beautiful”. It was gentle, warm and welcoming. These were the sort of qualities to admire and to try to imitate.

Dan spent fifty years ministering in England, but his heart never left Ireland. As another of his friends, Fr. Gerry Murphy, said: “he spent those years in exile”. He took every opportunity to visit his family. He loved them so much and they returned that love a hundredfold. They could not have cared for him more. I know that they are heartbroken at his death.

While nobody was going to replace his Irish family, I am so proud and pleased that he very much became part of our own family here in England. He came on many family holidays, he was part of all our big events and he was particularly close to my Dad, a fellow Cork man, and treated him so beautifully, for which we will be eternally grateful. He was part of my nephews’ lives as they grew up and in these sad days, we have been exchanging lots of wonderful memories. One of them characterised Dan in this way: “He was so laid back that he would make a Zen Buddhist look stressed out”.

Dan worked in a number of parishes but there is no doubt that he was at his happiest in his last parish, St. Bernardine’s and St. Martin’s in Buckingham and Brackley. People there held him in the highest respect and affection and I know that many of them will be joining this Mass today and how sad they feel.

Dan’s illness was a cruel one and it all seemed so unfair that it happened to such a good man. His family and his carers could not have done more and I know that Dan appreciated everything they did for him.

Please know that as you gather today in Ireland many people here in England share your sorrow and give thanks to God for all that our lovely Dan Kiely brought into our lives. May he rest in peace.