I am not Catholic but I have known Father Michael Kelly for 20 years, since I was first engaged to my husband. He is my husband's family's priest and had been a part of their lives for 15 years before we met.
My husband played in the Modesto youth soccer league Father Kelly organized and the family attended his church — 35 years of life and friendship. To this day he is the only priest who never made me feel "lesser" because my beliefs are different.
In my personal experience, Father Kelly has never been anything but open, transparent and a beautiful example of God's love here on earth. He has celebrated with our family by officiating at our wedding, baptizing our family's three children, providing comfort and guidance upon the death of the family patriarch, as well as at many meals and visits arranged just to stay connected. He remembers the children's birthdays and our anniversaries. To him, these relationships are not duties thrust upon him by the church, but experiences that allow him to connect to people on a deep, spiritual level. To us, they offer a unique opportunity to know the man behind the priest.
Michael Kelly is a robust human being who enjoys being outdoors, watching and reviewing movies, has a black belt in karate, plays guitar, sings, leads travel tour groups, and even in the face of personal health challenges continues to organize nearly non-stop church activities and fundraisers — always quick with a joke or a bit of trivia. It is always obvious that his primary task on this Earth is to give glory to God.
Collar or no, Father Michael Kelly is one of the best human beings I have ever met. He is welcome in our home at any time to spend time with us and our children, and to receive in equal amounts the support, care and love he has shown our family through the years.