Meet Father Jonathan Kelly, the new rector at St. John Vianney College Seminary

father jonathan kelly rector of saint john vianney college seminary
Father Jonathan Kelly was officially installed as rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary on Sept. 5, 2021.

The Chair of the Saint John Vianney College Seminary (SJV) Board of Trustees, the Most Reverend Bernard Hebda, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, announced in January 2021 that he approved the Board’s recommendation to appoint the Rev. Jonathan Kelly as the 9th Rector of SJV. Father Kelly succeeded the Rev. Michael Becker, who concluded his term as Rector at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. The Most Reverend Andrew Cozzens, Auxiliary Bishop, led a search committee, comprised of lay and ordained Board members and seminary staff, to find Father Becker’s successor.

Archbishop Hebda celebrated Father Kelly’s installation Mass on Sept. 5, 2021 at the St. John Vianney College Seminary chapel.

A native of Southern Minnesota, Kelly, 47, earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business. There he competed on the Division I Men’s Golf Team. After graduation, Father Kelly briefly played on the professional tour in South Africa and Canada before starting a career as an Investment Banking Analyst at Piper Jaffray and working in private equity on the East Coast. He returned to the Twin Cities and entered The Saint Paul Seminary in 2005.

Father Kelly was ordained for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in 2011. He first served as Parochial Vicar of All Saints Catholic Church and School in Lakeville, Minnesota. Father Kelly was assigned as Formator and Spiritual Director at SJV in 2014. He is also a member of the Companions of Christ, a fraternity of priests in the Archdiocese.

“Father Kelly has excelled in each of his assignments,” said Archbishop Hebda. “The search committee recognized his generous priestly heart, keen intellect, and relevant experience. It is obvious that he is joyful in his priesthood and will provide an excellent example for the young men discerning their call at the college seminary. I am grateful for his willingness to accept this important ministry in the Church.”

During his time at SJV, Father Kelly furthered his formation training by earning certificates in Spiritual Direction and Seminary Formation at the Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF) in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Seminary Formation Council in Boynton Beach, Florida, respectively. He has served as a Formator and Adjunct Faculty during the summer programs of the IPF for priests and seminarians. While at SJV, Father Kelly also served as an Adjunct Faculty in the Theology Department at the University of St. Thomas. He regularly directs retreats and serves as a Spiritual Director for priests and seminarians, for lay Catholics from the Archdiocese, and for religious sisters. Father Kelly has led several groups of seminarians on mission trips to the Motherhouse of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India, where the men follow in the footsteps of and experience the spirituality of St. Teresa of Kolkata and serve at her home for the dying and Leper Colony.

“It is obvious that he is joyful in his priesthood and will provide an excellent example for the young men discerning their call at the college seminary. I am grateful for his willingness to accept this important ministry in the Church.”

— Archbishop Bernard Hebda

“Father Kelly is a man of prayer and great virtue,” Becker said. “He will remain attentive to the transformational needs of every seminarian as a true spiritual father and leader in the Church.”

For the past two years, Father Kelly has worked closely with Father Becker and SJV’s Institutional Advancement team to raise essential funds that support the formation and programming needs for today’s college seminarians, including recent infrastructure renovations. Future plans include enhanced space that provides for the daily liturgical and formational needs of the seminarians.

“I am grateful to Archbishop Hebda for this opportunity and his support,” Kelly said. “I am also indebted to Father Becker and previous Rectors who have built such a strong culture of charity and generosity at SJV. The work is incredibly fulfilling for me and I am excited, with God’s help, to continue to prepare our men to discern God’s call for their lives and to become missionary disciples who can make the Gospel of Jesus Christ attractive and relevant to those they will serve.”

Saint John Vianney College Seminary was founded in 1968. Currently, 105 men are in formation representing 18 dioceses throughout the United States. More than 500 alumni are serving as ordained priests today, including four bishops and one cardinal. Many more are serving as lay leaders and faith-filled witnesses building up the Church throughout the world.

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