Kelly, John

From Biographia Cisterciensis

John Benedict Kelly

John Kelly OCSO

3. Abbot of Southern Star Abbey Kopua, Takapau, New Zealand 1992–1998

* 12 May 1930 Alleen, Co. Tipperary, Irland
17 Nov 2011 Hastings, Neu Seeland

Born on May, 12, 1930, to Denis and Mary Kelly at Alleen near Tipperary, Fr John Benedict Kelly was strongly influenced by his mother’s Christian faith and the sheltered life of a farming community. He attended primary school at the Donaskeigh National School, with the remainder of his education being centred on Mount Melleray Abbey, Co Waterford, Ireland: the College from 1943–1947, the Minor Seminary from 1948–1950 and then the monastic community which he entered with the name of Br. Benedict.

After his monastic profession in 1955 Fr John continued his studies and was ordained a priest in 1958. In 1961 he gained a Licentiate from the Angelicum University in Rome, returning to Ireland in 1962 to become a teacher at Mt Melleray.

In 1967 Fr John came to Southern Star Abbey and played a significant part in the community as teacher, farm manager, bursar and abbot from 1992–1998. The last decade of his life was very fruitful. He made himself available to visitors and was much sought out by those seeking counsel and guidance, and he relished this contact. He worked at his writing, which was characterised by a rational frame of mind but forged out of his experience, and for many years contributed articles on spirituality to the ‘Marist Messenger’. He had three books published which are available from the monastery or can be accessed on our website. A brief autobiography was also completed before his final illness and this will be published next year.

His last three weeks Fr John Kelly spent at Hawkes Bay Hospital, Hastings, New Zealand, where he died on November, 17, 2001. With his death the community of Southern Star Abbey lost its last living link with its founding house, Mount Melleray.



Prof.: 1955, Sac.: 1958; Abbas: el. 1992, res. 1998.


The Love of God · Personal Prayer · 21st Century Spirituality · A Journey in Faith and Prayer, 2012.


Abbey Newsletter, Dez 2011 (obituary) · Marist Messenger, February 1, 2012 (obituary) · A Journey in Faith and Prayer, 2012 (autobiography).

Citation: Kelly, John, in: Biographia Cisterciensis (Cistercian Biography), Version vom 13.12.2015, URL:,_John

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