Timothy Kelly was born in Lehanemore, Beara, Co. Cork on 31 July 1926, the eldest of a family of four boys and five girls. He entered the Presentation Brothers at Mount St. Joseph, Cork, in August 1944, and made his final profession of Vows in 1949. He had graduated from De la Salle Teachers' College, Waterford, in 1948. A methodical student and talented teacher, he was also a distinguished Gaelic football player.
Br. Jerome's first teaching appointment was to Greenmount National School. He was an ardent promoter of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Society and he organised the great Pioneer Rallies which were a feature of Cork city during that period. He continued his studies, taking chemistry at the Crawford Technical Institute and later graduating in Arts at University College Cork. He also found time to develop what became a life-long hobby, photography.
In August 1954 Br. Jerome, with Br. Ligouri O'Mahony and Br. De Lellis Sullivan, went to the West Indies, where the Brothers had taken responsibility for secondary education in 1947 at the request of Archbishop Finbar Ryan, O.P. Br. Jerome taught chemistry in San Fernando, Trinidad and quickly established himself as an outstanding teacher, his pupils obtaining excellent results in the public examinations. His love of the sea which came naturally to him as a native of the Beara peninsula, and his long experience of boats and sailing, prompted him to establish a troop of Sea Scouts. The troop won the premier scouting trophy three years in a row.
In 1957 Br. Jerome was appointed Principal of Presentation College, San Fernando. Several outstanding achievements in the academic field were recorded, and indeed all aspects of the College prospered under his administration.
Br. Jerome also served as Provincial Leader of the Presentation Brothers in the West Indies while he was Principal at San Fernando. This necessitated his travelling to St. Lucia, Grenada and Barbados to visit the Brothers and teaching staff in those islands, advising and supporting them. This extra responsibility meant that school vacations and even week-ends were almost completely taken up with these duties.
In 1969 Br. Jerome was elected Assistant to the Superior General of the Presentation Brothers, an appointment that necessitated his return to Cork. The people of San Fernando, to express their gratitude and appreciation of all he had done in the 15 years he had served there, made him a Freeman of their City.
From 1969 to 1981 Br. Jerome combined his duties as Assistant to the Supertor General with the principalship of Presentation College, Cork. Established in 1879 this is the Brothers' oldest secondary school and has an illustrious tradition of service to education. Br. Jerome upheld all the old traditions but also introduced new ideas and practices, such as social and health education and media studies. --The foundation of SHARE in 1970 is however regarded by many as his outstanding contribution to the city during his time in Presentation College. Not only has this student charity provided more than 200 apartments for the homeless elderly in Cork, it helped to create a Christian social conscience among students at a time when a left-wing militancy was growing and a significant number of university students were card-carrying Maoists.
In 1981 Br. Jerome was elected Superior General of the Presentation Brothers. A great affirmer and enabler, he gave people a belief in themselves which empowered them. His great qualities of leadership, his outstanding ability and achievements were recognised, by the broader public as well as by the Brothers. The teachers of Cork honoured him for his Outstanding Contribution to Education; the National University of Ireland made him an honorary Doctor in 1982; the Association of Religious Brothers of Ireland nominated him Brother of the Year in 1992; he received the Freedom of the City of Cork in 1994. Yet he remained a man of few wants and simple tastes. He was also a man of prayer. Every evening he loved to walk around the grounds of Mount St. Joseph saying his Rosary, or sat quietly in the oratory before the Blessed Sacrament.
Though his election as Superior General necessitated his resignation as Principal of Presentation College, he was able to continue his association with SHARE and it was largely through his influence that the Presentation Brothers donated part of Mount St. Joseph, their former novitiate, to provide forty apartments for the elderly. He completed his second term as Superior General in 1993.
Br. Jerome became ill in June 1995 and leukaemia was diagnosed. On medical advice he modified his lifestyle to get the required rest and avoid infections, but he continued to be involved in the day-to-day administration and fund-raising activities of SHARE. He also worked on plans for a project to mark the Millenium: the building of a Day Centre complex. At Christmas 1998 he attended the fast and collection which was held annually at the crib in Patrick Street, but shortly afterwards he had to return to hospital, gravely ill.
Br. Jerome died at the Bon Secours hospital on January 19th 1999.--His funeral at Mount St. Joseph was attended by a great number of people, among whom were representatives of the Oireachtas, Cork Corporation and County Council, and the National University.-
The boys and girls of SHARE formed a guard of honour.
Born at Lehanemore, Allihies, Co. Cork 1926
Received as a Presentation Brother, Mount St. Joseph, 1944
Graduated De la Salle T.C., Waterford, 1948
B.A., N.U.I (Cork) 1954.
Taught at Greenmount National School 1945-46 and 1948-54.
San Fernando, Trinidad, 1954 - 1969.
Freedom of San Fernando 1969
Provincial Superior in West Indies Assistant Superior General 1969 - 1981
Principal, Presentation College, Cork, 1969 - 1981
Founder of SHARE 1970
Superior General (9th) - 1981 - 1993
Honorary Doctorate, N.U.I. 1982
Freedom of City of Cork - 1994
Died, Cork 1999. Buried at Mount St. Joseph