The way Frank Kelly tells it, he was a blue-collar worker just like the apostles when God decided to tap him to help others.
Today, the 63-year-old from Massachusetts travels nationwide giving testimony of surviving being hit by a drunk driver at 16, being electrocuted as an adult and living with rheumatoid arthritis.
He always has a smile on his face, a witness to the contentment one can obtain through God.
“When you are doing God’s work, a peace comes over you,” he said.
Four hundred people went to see him Nov. 10 during a Mass and healing service at St. Dominic Church in Lakeview that lasted until 1 a.m. He also visited the Sisters of Mount Carmel on Nov. 14.
He says he plants the seeds of truth in people and invites them to prayer. Constant prayer has reinforced what he heard as a boy in confession: we are all made in God’s image and likeness, and any offense is offensive to God. Culture labels everything as addiction, and nothing is considered a sin. Kelly says addiction is sin, and confession gets to its root.
“Prayer time is important,” he said. “We are rooted to pray. It’s something of deep love. If you are really in love with someone, you will communicate with them and they will communicate with you.”
Strong faith background
He is the sixth of 12 children from a devout Irish Catholic family outside of Boston. He speaks of attending daily Mass and novenas and was instilled a knowledge of and faith in the saints as role models.
They had the same problems as we do,” he said of the saints. “They are just like you and I. Look how they started and look how they turned out.”
Padre Pio is among his favorites. In fact, he attributes his family’s sustenance after his father’s heart attack directly to St. Pio, when a traveling priest delivered groceries and a specific flour his mother used – King Arthur’s flour – to his home.
“I knew it had a lot to do with Padre Pio,” he said.
Life changed in an instant
While insulating pipe at New England Medical Center (now Tufts) in 1985, he was electrocuted from a live wire left exposed by an electrician.
“I hit the ceiling and the electricity came through my body again,” Kelly said. “I passed out and didn’t know what happened.”
With no treatment for electrocution, he was left to die. In fact, a fourth-year medical student was sent to record the time of his death on his death certificate. When he sat up and told the student that he had to go to the bathroom, the student ran out the room. The doctors couldn’t explain why he was alive but recommended a pacemaker because of the damage the electricity caused his heart.
Kelly had his beloved saints working for him. St. James the Greater Church was near the medical center, and he said he often prayed to him as the patron saint of construction workers. Then, he said Padre Pio appeared to him when he was hesitant about getting a pacemaker and said, “Be at total peace and everything will be fine.”
When he left the hospital, Kelly couldn’t stop praying. He now spends hours in prayer each day, sometimes saying 60 rosaries.
He recalls his mom saying, “Praying is nothing but God instructing you.” As he prayed, he said God began teaching him more about the saints and giving him a gift of knowledge and healing. It’s the saint he uses to help people overcome their difficulties.
Not unusual to be a healer
While some are skeptical of his ministry, Kelly said he has been surrounded by healers his entire life. As a child, he attended novenas to Our Lady of Perpetual Help given by Redemptorist Father Edward McDonough in Roxbury, Mass. Father McDonough gained a reputation for his healing services. “The healings were just incredible,” Kelly said. “We were fortunate to grow up with it.”
Kelly initially resisted God’s intercession through him to help others but was sent a few signs as reinforcement.
A few years after he was electrocuted, a friend took him to see Josephite Father Robert DeGrandis, another priest known for his healing ministry. Father DeGrandis nudged him to move forward with his ministry, “You truly are Roman Catholic, but you are constipated, and we’re going to get it out of you.”
That same night he prayed over a woman who found emotional healing. Father DeGrandis advised him to pray for a good spiritual director and to be obedient to the Catholic Church. Today, Jesuit Father Ronald Tacelli is his spiritual advisor.
“If God’s calling you to do it, then you do it,” Padre Pio said. “It’s a peace that comes over you that no man can give you.”
Since 1990, he has been in full-time ministry helping others.
“Ask the Father anything in my name, and I will give it to you,” he said. “If you ever ask him, you are imitating him and acting like him. God gives you what you need.”
Kelly said he doesn’t turn down invitations to speak and meets people with every imaginable difficulty from illness, to depression, to marital problems and addiction. After he prays over them, he gives them saints to pray to. When people ask how he knows so much about each person, he says, “I don’t. God knows that.”
He enjoys working with young people the most at confirmation retreats. St. Francis Xavier said to bring the word of God to the young and they will bring the adults.
His frequent traveling companion Gerry Gouthro said he was at a confirmation retreat with Kelly when three teenage girls dressed immodestly came out crying after Kelly spoke to them. Gouthro asked why and one said, “He scares us. He tells me things my mom doesn’t even know.” Gouthro responded, “He’s only telling you that Jesus wants you to know to help you in life.”
Kelly retells his experiences in the book, ”Short Circuit to God,” and gives all proceeds to missionary priests in India and those studying for the priesthood in Ghana. While he doesn’t charge to speak, if he is given a stipend, he said he donates it to charity.
He lives modestly with traveling companions driving him from place to place and lodging with those who invite him to speak.
“God takes care of me,” he said. “I’ve never charged to go anywhere.”
Kelly considers his healing gifts as part of the “walk that the Lord wanted me to do. When you say yes to God, he’s in complete control. That’s what I’m doing.”
Learn more about Kelly at www.frankkellyministry.com.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.