Frederick Michael Jelly, O.P.
Birth: June 20, 1927
Profession: September 18, 1950
Ordination: June 8, 1956
Died: April 14, 2000
Frederick William Jelly was born in Bayonne, NJ to Frederick and Margaret (Orrico) Jelly. He attended St. Paul’s Grammar School, Jersey City, Seton Hall Preparatory School, South Orange, NJ, and Seton Hall University, graduating with an A.B. in 1949.
Frederick entered the Dominican Province of St. Joseph in 1949 at St. Rose Priory, Springfield, KY receiving the name Michael. After making his simple profession there, he studied philosophy at St. Joseph’s Priory, Somerset, OH (1950-53) and theology at the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC (1953-57). He was ordained in that city at St. Dominic Church by Bishop Celestine Daly, O.P., Bishop of Des Moines, IA.
Fr. Jelly spent his whole priestly life in academics. His first assignment was to Providence College (1957-66) where he taught philosophy and theology. In 1967-68 he did research at Union Theological Seminary in NYC. From 1968-78 he taught Systematic Theology at the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC. He also served as prior of the community (1971-77). He served as a part-time faculty member at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD (1977-78). For the next five years (1978-83) he taught and was Academic Dean at the Josephinum in Columbus, OH.
From 1979-90 Fr. Michael was a member of the Province of St. Martin de Porres (Southern Province) serving as its Regent of Studies and a member of its Provincial council (1984-88). He was Prior of St. Albert the Great Priory in Dallas, TX from 1983-86 while teaching in the Theology Department of the University of Dallas. After a sabbatical year at the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research in Collegeville, MN (1986-87), Fr. Jelly returned to Mt. St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD in 1987 where he taught Systematic Theology, was dean of studies, departmental chair, spiritual director, faculty advisor and member of the Homiletics Committee.
In 1990 he transfiliated back to the Province of St. Joseph. In 1998 the Order awarded him the Master of Sacred Theology Degree for his scholarship in Mariology.
In 1999 his health began to fail. He spent many months at the Center for Assisted Living, St. Dominic Priory, Washington, DC, hoping to regain his strength and return to St. Mary Seminary. This he did, but for only a brief period before his final illness. The Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated by Fr. Kevin Robb, O.P., Vicar Provincial, with the homily preached by Fr. Thomas Ertle, O.P., Fr. Jelly’s classmate. Interment was in the Dominican plot of Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Washington, D.C.