Father William A. Kelleher


Father William A. Kelleher, a senior priest at St. Joseph's parish in Bronxville, died on July 5, his 84th birthday, at Rosary Hill Home in Hawthorne. A lawyer for many years before beginning studies for priesthood, he had been a longtime parishioner at St. Joseph's before returning there in 1997 to serve as a parochial vicar. Auxiliary Bishop Robert A. Brucato, vicar general, celebrated the Funeral Mass July 9 at St. Joseph's Church. The homilist was Father James T. O'Connor, pastor of St. Joseph's parish in Millbrook. Auxiliary Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan, vicar general, celebrated the Mass of the Holy Eucharist July 8 at St. Joseph's, Bronxville. The homilist was Father Dawson J. Ambosta, who serves at the parish. Father Kelleher was a parochial vicar at Sacred Heart, Hartsdale, 1991-1994, and St. Paul's, Congers, 1994-1997, before his assignment to St. Joseph's. He entered Rosary Hill in February. Father Ambosta said in an interview that Father Kelleher was "a very holy priest." "He was a man of prayer and he loved the Church very dearly, and he loved his priesthood very much," Father Ambosta said. "He was very sensitive to the needs and problems of other people...He had the ability to relate to all categories of people, young and old, rich and poor. Born in Manhattan and reared in the Bronx, he entered the seminary at Maryknoll in 1942 after graduating from high school, but left and joined the U.S. Army. He served as a rifleman in the 2nd Infantry Division in three European campaigns during World War II. After the war he earned a bachelor's degree in economics and philosophy at Fordham University and graduated from its School of Law. During a law career of more than 35 years, he worked for two corporations and two Wall Street firms; spent 11 years with International Telephone and Telegraph Corp; then worked for a multinational corporation and traveled extensively on business. In 1968 he entered Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass. He told CNY in an interview before his ordination that the turmoil in the Church following the Second Vatican Council played a role in his decision to return to the practice of law. But he remained a daily communicant as he had been since high school, and continued to do volunteer work. He also earned a master's degree at the Institute of Religious Studies at St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie. In 1987 he entered St. John Neumann Residence of the archdiocese. He went on to prepare for priesthood at St. Joseph's Seminary. He was ordained May 11, 1991. He is survived by a sister, Miriam A. Kelleher. Burial was in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne.



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