Francis B. Kelly was born and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, one of the middle children among a large family of a dozen. His parents, Thomas and Margaret, were devout Catholics and provided their offspring with a solid traditional Catholic education that spanned both their home life and parochial schooling. In particular, Frank’s parents had an immense love for the Holy Rosary, and would gather the family (sometimes with neighborhood children) around the radio to participate in its nightly recitation with the gravel-voiced Archbishop of Boston, Richard Cardinal Cushing.
Besides the Rosary, Frank’s spiritual life revolved around the Mass, Stations of the Cross, and regular parish novenas (notably the two annual ones in honor of St. Francis Xavier, patron of missionaries) – all marked by a strong trust in God’s providence. It was a working class family, poor by today’s standards, living in a relatively small apartment building whose minimal amenities required the boys to shower at the local YMCA. They sometimes benefited from donations of surplus food to supplement their sustenance, but Frank proudly recounts how his mother would always share with neighboring families whatever extra food they received.
Frank excelled in athletics, but he found certain academic areas difficult, primarily due to an undiagnosed hearing problem that prevented him from absorbing the intricacies of subjects taught orally. He had no such trouble with written work taught visually at the blackboard, such as mathematics and science.
Although he wanted to be an altar boy at the Traditional Mass like his older brothers, he was disappointed at being unable to learn the correct Latin pronunciations of the responses demanded of these servers. Late in his high school career, his hearing impediment was finally discovered by an attentive teacher and competent school nurse. He was then able to enter college and earn an associate’s degree in accounting.
Eventually Frank married, and the couple gave birth to two children. Meanwhile Frank’s interior prayer life continued, but he later expressed regret that he had not shared it more intently with his wife and children. His family life, however, was for the most part typical, though punctuated by a couple of events that could have turned out disastrous.
One time when Frank was working on insulating pipes at a paper mill, he fell forty feet out of a section of gang pipe toward a big paper cutting machine. He feared being sliced to pieces, but heard a voice (which he attributes to his Guardian Angel) telling him to turn as he was falling. He then bounced up against a plexiglas shield, flattened himself against it, and grabbed onto it with his two hands, while hearing the voice tell him not to move. After he was rescued from that perch, the responders expressed surprise that he had suffered no injuries.
An even more perilous episode occurred when his son Joseph contracted spinal meningitis, which was diagnosed as probably fatal, the doctors giving the boy an estimated twenty-four hours to live. Despite his anguish over the potential loss of his beloved son, he told his wife not to worry, that they should pray to St. Padre Pio for his intercession. He immediately went to the Redemptorists’ Mission Church in Roxbury, where many miracles had transpired before the large picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Between tears and prayers, Frank returned home believing (even knowing) in his heart that Joey would be fine.
His recovery did ensue over the course of the next ten or so days.
Unfortunately, due to this strain and other distressing pressures in their marriage, the couple separated and remain so to this day, although Frank has never given up on their reunion, and has steadfastly refused to pursue an annulment or agree to the civil divorce his wife obtained. He thought an additional contributing factor to their marital conflicts might have been his hearing trouble, so he went for a re-examination and was fitted with hearing aids that indeed helped somewhat, though not a complete cure. He wound up moving into an apartment with his son, while his daughter (Debra) stayed with her mother.
Around this trying time, Frank was employed as a construction project foreman at a Boston hospital. He had been lying in a crawl-space on top of a walk-in refrigerator in order to reach some pipes, when his right wrist came in contact with four lines of exposed electrical wiring that protruded through a junction box. The electricity went through his hips, and then exited through his hips, calves, and feet. He was brought inside the hospital, but was not expected to recover on account of the usually lethal amount of voltage he had incurred. When he woke up in the hospital bed, he immediately sat up, but a doctor (or internist) on duty tried to push him back down, because it is known that a dead body sometimes pops up spontaneously. Frank tried to get up to go to the restroom but felt too wobbly, so he sank back down for lack of strength. The attendant headed out the door, apparently in shock. In fact, Frank found out later that he had been waiting for him to die, holding a clipboard in his hands with a death certificate ready, because no one had ever survived this type of electrocution. The various doctors who entered his room over the following days were all astonished that he was still alive. They determined, however, that the electrocution had disturbed his heart rhythm, and decided he should receive a pacemaker.
But the prospect of such an operation terrified Frank. He was praying in a state of fear, when suddenly Padre Pio himself walked into the hospital room and told Frank that everything would be alright. A tremendous peace came over him, and his fear vanished. He had actually prayed years earlier (after the marital issues) that the Lord would change his heart if he needed it, and now it was literally going to happen! He went through the surgery successfully, and from that point on he developed a fervent prayer life, which has persisted over the intervening decades.
After Frank regained his driving and walking ability, he would frequent shrines and churches, attending daily Mass, praying numerous rosaries, the Stations of the Cross, and engaging in Eucharistic Adoration. He was also asking God how the Lord wished him to pray. He would find prayer cards in honor of various saints and seek their intercession for the needs of different people. But he himself was starting to endure more pain. The doctors diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis that had set in, evidently from the systemically jolting effects of the massive dose of electricity. He could no longer work and was placed on medical disability (workman’s compensation). To this day he has large nodules on his limbs, but miraculously they do not hinder his flexibility.
When Frank was strolling the grounds of LaSalette Shrine, he started to hear an interior voice telling him, “Go instruct.” Frank would reply, “Instruct what?” And, not getting a response, would continue to walk. At that time, he was smoking cigarettes. He relates that on two different occasions, he “saw” what he can only describe as “neon signs” in front of him, consisting of white lights surrounding big bluish-purplish letters that proclaimed “STOP SMOKING”. He tried ignoring them and even tried pushing them away, but then it dawned on him that this was a means by which his Guardian Angel was communicating a divine message to him.
Now things really begin to reach a turning point in Frank’s life. The day came for Frank and Joey to move into their new apartment (amidst boxes and cartons).
That night Frank sent Joey to bed with a prayer, while he remained on the couch in the living room, smoking a cigarette and feeling a state of relief that they had found a place to stay, yet hoping that the whole family would be reconciled. But when he reached down to grab another cigarette, he realized he had run out. He decided to drive the car to an all-night gas station to buy another pack. He drove back home, went into the apartment, sat on the couch, and decided to light up one more cigarette before retiring. Just as he did this at one end of the couch, suddenly he saw Jesus sitting at the other end of the couch, looking at him. Christ told Frank to put the cigarette out, and then said, “I even tried to save you money.” Frank then recalled the neon signs stating “STOP SMOKING”. Our Lord gazed at him, and said, “From now on you will never smoke again.” Jesus stood up, walked over to Frank, took him by his right hand, and said, “Come with Me.” He walked Frank out to the kitchen. Then He told Frank to place his cigarettes on top of the refrigerator. After Frank did this, Jesus guided him back out to the living room. Standing by the door, He said, “This is an answer to your son’s prayer.” Frank was nearly floored, not having known that Joey had been praying for this intention. Our Lord then told him, “When your son wakes up tomorrow, tell him to do what he wants to do.” Finally, He said, “From now on, I take over.” With that concluding sentence, He left, walking right through the solid closed door.
Frank insists that he was not dreaming, being fully wide awake. He went to bed and prayed, thanking the Lord Jesus for coming to him as the Good Shepherd (dressed in white and red robes). Frank had total peace, yet, pondering Christ’s parting words, he wondered, “Take over what?” He fell asleep.
The next morning, when Joey got up, Frank told him to do whatever he wanted. Immediately, he went directly to the refrigerator, reached up to the top, took down the pack of cigarettes, and without saying a word destroyed them all, crushing than and ripping them up! This was highly unusual, because there was no way Joe could have known where they were, since Frank always kept them in his shirt pocket. At any rate, Frank has never smoked since then.
Things started happening fairly rapidly after this apparition. Frank began praying virtually unceasingly. He was illumined with profound understanding of Scripture passages. He had a puzzling vision in which a priest threw a fish at him, which bounced out of Frank’s hand, only to have the priest retrieve the fish and throw it at Frank a second time. (This was later interpreted as a sign of “catching” people through instruction, which Frank initially resisted doing, feeling himself a poor instrument, inadequate to the task.) He was himself cured of his hearing trouble at an Eileen George healing service, at the point where he had to remove his hearing aids when his ears began to burn. In tandem with improved physical hearing, he began to “hear” interior locutions informing him of difficulties people were experiencing, and was told to speak “words of instruction” to them: sometimes statements of fact about what was going on, sometimes scripture passages (book, chapter, and verse), often (more common in recent years) the names of saints to pray to for their intercession. Frank himself had further visitations of saints, such as St. Bernard, St. Jerome, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Pius X, along with St. Padre Pio, apparently in response to the needs of people for whom Frank was praying.
With all of these things happening so fast, it was imperative that Frank be under the guidance of a prudent priest to discern what Frank prefers to call “apostolic” gifts rather than “charismatic” phenomena. He was fully prepared to be ordered to cease and desist; in fact, he was actually hoping that he could just live a normal life out of the spotlight. In the early 1990s, he found a spiritual director (Rev. Fr. Ronald K. Tacelli, SJ, PhD, professor of philosophy at Boston College), who (to Frank’s amazement) gave his approval to the inauguration and continuation of what has become Frank Kelly’s prayer and healing ministry. Frank has also obtained a letter of approbation from the Cardinal of the Archdiocese of Boston, as well as a book imprimatur from a bishop in India, some of whose priests Frank has been hosting every summer for many years.
Over the past quarter-century, Frank has conducted hundreds of healing services around the country, with numerous testimonials of accurate words of knowledge and wonderful healings being transmitted to his spiritual director. Nevertheless, in total humility Frank is the first to admit that all the glory is due to God alone and that he is a mere channel. About the words of knowledge and the healings, Frank says, “I don’t know anything” and “I can’t cure a fly.” A tragedy in 2015 serves to illustrate and highlight this fact. Despite intense and virtually non-stop prayer for months, he finally lost his only daughter to cancer.