HUACHUCA CITY — John Michael Donnelly was born in San Diego, California, the youngest of 5 children. He was a “surprise” child, as he was 19 years younger than his older brother, Donald. He grew up in San Diego and graduated from St. Augustine High School. He made the decision to enter the Carmelites and conducted his initial studies in the San Francisco Bay area. Later, he studied in Ireland and in Rome for the priesthood, where he earned a master’s degree in Theology. He took the Sacrament of Holy Orders in 1967 in Rome, and took the name Kevin, which is the name many people knew him by as an adult.
In the early 1970’s, Reverend Donnelly met Susan Mullaney and made the decision to leave the priesthood to marry, in the sincere belief that priests ought to be allowed to marry and in the hope that it wouldn’t be long before that change occurred. Susan brought three children into the marriage, Lisa, Laurie and Bruce. Together they had a son named Kevin. When Susan’s health began to fail, they made the decision to move from northern California, where they met, to southeastern Arizona, where Susan lived as a child. They were married for 43 years.
In 1987, John (Kevin) was accepted into the Episcopal Church as a priest. After several years in pastoral ministry at St. Alban’s in Tucson, and the Church of the Transfiguration in Apache Junction, John (Kevin) served as a chaplain for the Arizona State Prison at Douglas, ministering to an inmate population of over 2,000 individuals for 20 years. He loved to sing, and played the piano, guitar and cornet. He was well known for his gentleness, being very approachable and humble, with a wry sense of humor. John (Kevin) spoke French, Italian, Spanish, Latin and was conversant in Irish Gaelic.
After his cherished wife, Susan, passed in 2016, John (Kevin) reconciled with the Catholic Church. The day before his death, two Carmelite friars visited him, and he renewed his vows as a Carmelite. His son Kevin commented that his dad was glowing with happiness at renewing his vows. By the next morning, Divine Mercy Sunday, John (Kevin) was on his way to sing with the angels.
John (Kevin) is survived by two sisters, Thérèse Oles and Eveline Wilson of San Diego, his son Kevin of Huachuca City, stepchildren Lisa and Laurie Donnelly and Bruce Butler, 4 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.
Services will be held Saturday April 24, 2021 at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Sierra Vista. A rosary will be said at 10 AM, followed by a funeral mass at 10:30 AM. John’s remains will join his wife’s in a niche at St. Andrew’s after the Mass.