The Rev. James J. Kelly, 89, a Jesuit priest who served his order for more than 50 years, died Tuesday at St. Joseph Hospital.
Since 1993, he provided spiritual direction to the Jesuit community at Loyola University and to lay people after ministering in this country and abroad.
The Rev. Earl Weis, a longtime friend, said Father Kelly's ministry was "characterized by dedicated priestly service, colored with understanding, kindness and a twinkling Irish wit."
Before retiring to the Jesuit community, Father Kelly assisted at a Fort Myers, Fla., parish for 10 years. From 1971 to 1983, he was assistant pastor at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Northfield. He held a similar post at St. Ignatius Parish on the North Side before that.
Father Kelly was born in County Clare, Ireland. In 1930, he entered the Society of Jesus in Milford, Ohio, where he began his studies. After graduating from college, he joined the St. Xavier High School faculty in Cincinnati.
He returned to Ireland in 1937 to complete his theological studies. Ordained in 1940, he was an assistant pastor in England and became a member of the Army Air Forces in World War II. He was chaplain for more than 15 years, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Father Kelly briefly taught and counseled at Loyola Academy and again at St. Xavier in Ohio before being assigned to St. Ignatius.
He is survived by a sister, Nora Maher.
Visitation will be 3 to 9 p.m. today at Madonna della Strada Chapel, Loyola University, 6525 N. Sheridan. Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in the chapel. Burial will be in All Saints Cemetery, 700 N. River Rd., Des Plaines.