This is my personal tribute to Rev Dr Michael Bernard Kelly , my friend Michael Kelly who left this world last Saturday
I wrote to him last week saying
thank you for being the person who enlightened me - made me realize I could be fully gay and fully spiritual and allowed me to draw on my Catholic heritage with pride. You gave me the words and concepts and confidence to express what I felt.
Michael was also a believer in the value of my art with all if its ambitions and flaws – he was MC at my Scarlatta exhibition at the Convent in 2017 and went on to lead a ritual of cleansing in the convent cloister and we were working this year on a project to represent visually the ideas of his landmark erotic contemplative series . Michael also introduced me to the community of Easton Mountain his home base during frequent stays lecturing and giving retreats in the USA
Michael lived a life where he believed in the Incarnation, the Word made Flesh. There were aspects of Michael that were truly saintly. While he tried to engage his nemesis Archbishop George Pell in conversation through the Rainbow Sash movement and was rebuffed, he never once responded with any enjoyment or sense of vindication when I would gleefully describe to him another step in the cardinal’s trial and imprisonment. On the fleshy side he was also open to talk about the joys of gay sex and appreciated a handsome and compassionate man as much as any gay man!
Earlier this year Michael showed me the grave site at the Sorrento cemetery where he will be shortly buried. He chose a grave outside the denominational section of the Cemetery, in the company of other outcasts. I said to him “Mike wellchosen it will make a lovely site to visit in 100 years when the Catholic church repents of its treatment of its gay members and you are an official LGBTIQ saint!”
He allowed himself a modest smile. Recognition of his seminal role in forming a bridge between the Christian and queer worlds will only increase over the years
Here is a quote from Bernard of Clairvaux
“With my mouth I touch and worship Thee, With all the strength I have I cling to Thee, With all my love I plunge my heart in Thee, My very life-blood would I draw from Thee, Jesus, Jesus I draw me into Thee.”
Thank you, Michael, for revealing what has been hidden in plain sight, may you enjoy the embrace of your resurrected lover. I am working on a book “Ecce Homo Corona” of images done over the last few months. I wish I had the opportunity to collaborate more closely with Michael but there are several images directly inspired by the Erotic Contemplative ethos.
l dedicate the book to you Michael, Friend, Father , Mentor , Intellectual, Spiritual Director Brother. I will keep you in my heart forever..
Sorrento is a beautiful sea side town 100 kms south of Melbourne FUNERAL SERVICE 23RD NOVEMBER 2021 SORRENTO
FUNERAL SERVICE 23RD NOVEMBER 2021 SORRENTO
Michael's service was held on a wet Monday morning - Michael had chosen a very humble postion at the outcasts section of the cemetery but recieved an upgrade of biblical dimensions when bones were discovered in his first choice grave.
Due to Covid 19 restrictions it was not possible to celebrate a requiem mass in a Church so the entire service was held grave side. In Australia we have a tradition of DIY ( Do It Yourslf ) and we realized quickly that the Kelly family are really good at this.
Michael was wrapped in white and laid out in an open wicker basket. He was escorted to the graveside by family members and friends fom the Rainbow Sash movement . The rainbow flag was draped over the altar and the formalities began with a welcome by Michael's sister Noelene.
Co celebrants were Mother Irene Wilsom from the Emmaus Community , Father Michael Moran and Father John from the Old Catholics, Readings and speeches are described in the attached program