Fr. Michael P. Keliher passed away Sept. 10 after a long battle with cancer. After being hospitalized in his final weeks, he asked to return to the Viatorian Province Center in Arlington Heights. Once home, he sat down to watch his beloved Chicago White Sox and quietly passed away, while watching them win. Fr. Keliher was 74.
He was born Feb. 18, 1947 in Kankakee, the son of Joseph and Verna Keliher. He made his first profession Sept. 1, 1966 and was ordained a priest by Bishop Romeo Blanchette at St. Patrick Parish in Kankakee, on June 12, 1976. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Thomas J. Keliher.
Fr. Keliher met the Viatorians when he attended Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee, where he graduated in 1965. He went on to earn a B.S. degree in biology and pre-medicine in 1970 from Loyola University, Chicago, and a Master of Divinity from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago in 1975.
Fr. Keliher taught biology and coached both wrestling and golf at St. Viator High School from 1970-1972 and from 1976-1985. He served as parochial vicar at Maternity B.V.M. Parish in Bourbonnais from 1986 -1990 and at St. Viator Parish in Las Vegas from 1990-1995, before being named pastor of St. Jude Church in Rochester, IL for a brief assignment in 1995.
He returned to Kankakee in 1996 to serve two years as parochial vicar at St. Patrick Parish, before serving in the same role from 2012-2014 at St. Viator Parish in Chicago and from 1997-2012, and from 2014-2018 at St. Thomas More Parish in Henderson, NV.
In 2018, he served one year as administrator at St. Thomas More before moving to the Viatorian Province Center residence in July, 2019 where he retired.
Fr. Keliher is survived by nieces Lindsey Keliher of Tampa, FL and Brooke Anderson of Hainesport, NJ; great nephew Austin Anderson and sister-in-law Peggy Keliher.
A Mass of Christian burial took place Sept. 16 at St. Patrick Church in Kankakee, which included a final commendation from his confreres and closed with the traditional Irish blessing. Fr. Keliher was interred at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Kankakee.