Top O'the Mornin' - Francis Clement Kelley

Francis Clement Kelley


Francis Clement Kelley (1870-1948)

Francis Clement Kelley was born in Vernon River, Prince Edward Island, on 23 October 1870. He was the son of John and Mary Anne Kelley, the oldest son of six children: Katie Kelley, Francis Clement Kelley, Joseph A. Kelley, Lucy Gertrude Kelley, Arthur A. Kelley and Celia A. Kelley.

Francis studied at St. Dunstan's University in Charlottetown.

In 1891 he emigrated to the United States. He took an oath to become an American citizen on 28 July 1893, the same year he became a priest in Detroit, Michigan.

He founded the Catholic Church Extension Society in 1905, to help promote the mission of the Catholic Church in rural United States.

Father Kelley was very involved numerous war efforts. He served as a military chaplain during the Spanish-American War. His diplomatic skills were put to the test as a representative of the bishops of Mexico during the World War I Paris Peace Conference, and, later, a representative for the Mexican bishops during the Mexican Revolution.

On 25 June 1924 Father Kelley was made Bishop of Oklahoma City and kept the post until he died on 1 February 1948.

Francis Clement Kelley was a generous donor to his old school, St. Dunstan’s University, (now University of Prince Edward Island) in Charlottetown. Amongst his donated books is Top o' the Mornin', now part of the UPEI Provenance Collection. The book is inscribed by the author to Father Kelley:

To Father Kelley of Lapeer with fond remembrance, Seumas MacManus, October 1920

Other UPEI Provenance Collection books from Bishop Kelley
Dollard, James B. Irish Lyrics and Ballads. New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1917. [Bookplate, St. Dunstan's College Library from Books bequeathed by Bishop Kelley. Written inside: To Monsignor Francis Clement Kelley PA D.W. From his friend James B. Dollard Toronto Canada July 18 1918].

Conte, Louis de. Personal recollections of Joan of Arc. New York: Harper & Bros., 1896. [Written inside: "Was on my way? to Dr. Morris and met in the car two darling little girls, 3 & 5 yrs old. I gave them my pencil - or rather they took it out of my pocket and made these marks and pictures. J.HMc?].


Check, Christopher. “How to be an American Catholic: Bishop Francis Kelley.” Crisis Magazine. A Voice for the Faithful Catholic Laity (31 January 2013).

Gaffey, James P. Francis Clement Kelley and the American Catholic Dream. Bensenville, Illinois: Heritage Foundation, Inc., 1980.

Kelley, Francis Clement. The Bishop Jots it Down: an Autobiographical Strain on Memories. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1939.

Kelly, Brian. “Bishop Francis Clement Kelley (1870-1948).” Online Journal (16 October 2008).

Subscribe to Francis Clement Kelley RSS feed