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Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School Fire, December 1, 1958



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Sister Mary Seraphica Kelley
Room Age Birthdate Grade B/G/T
210 43 11/12/15 4 Teacher
Teacher
n/a
Address
OLA Convent 
Family
Father: James W. Kelley, Sr.
Mother: Anna Kelley
Brother: James W. Kelley, Jr.
Niece: Sara Ann Jacobsen (nee Kelley)
Niece: Kathleen Kelley M.D.
Niece: Mary Lemons (nee Kelley)
Nephew: James W. Kelley III 
About Sister Mary Seraphica
Sister Mary Seraphica Kelley was born Anne Virginia Kelley on November 12, 1915 in Chicago. She entered the BVM community on September 8, 1933.

On December 1, she did not abandon her fourth grade students, but heroically chose to remain with them to the very end. She was interred on December 4, 1958 at Mt. Carmel, Hillside, Illinois.

Today, nieces Sara Ann Jacobsen and Mary Lemons reside in Peoria, IL, niece Kathleen Kelley, M.D. lives in Chicago, and nephew James W. Kelley III lives in Belleville, IL 

Interred: Mount Carmel (Hillside, IL)
Memories of Sister Mary Seraphica
I didn't know you, Sister, but looking at your picture, you were very pretty and I'll bet you were a nice person. Because God picked you to be a nun, He also picked you to be an angel. I know you are in heaven with my sister, Carol Ann, my little angel.
    -- (Dolores Labuda, Friend - August 2014)
My Grandfather, William C. Smith, was Sr. Seraphica's Godfather. His mother was Elizabeth Kelley Smith and his father was Charles William Smith, one of the first mail carriers of the Cragin post office in 1880's. My grandfather was an undertaker and owned Wm C. Smith and Sons Funeral Home, at 2500 N. Cicero Avenue in Chicago, for over 50 years. He died in 1977. He buried the three nuns and he saved all the information on the fire in his daybook, which has become part of the family memoirs. I have a daughter studying with a religious order and take my family's heritage of gifts to the Church to heart. I admire the sacrifice of the Kelley family in giving their daughter, Anne (Sr. Seraphica) to the Church. And in this same spirit of sacrifice, Sr. Seraphica gave her life for her fellow man (the children) thus fulfilling the ultimate act of love. Sr. Seraphica, martyr for the children, pray for me and my family.
    -- (Joan Stromberg, Cousin - August 2014)
My name is Mary Kelley Lemons and I am the eldest niece of Sister M. Seraphica Kelley. My father, James William Kelley Jr., was her brother and only sibling. Sister Seraphica --our Aunt Virginia -- visited us at our family home near Peoria every summer with a companion. We all looked forward to these visits as she was enormous fun with a wonderful sense of humor. She was very tiny and as a young girl was a talented dancer. Her mother had hoped she might go on the stage, but Aunt Virginia was determined to become a nun. She loved her family very, very much.
    -- (Mary Kelley Lemons, Niece - August 2014)
Sister Mary Seraphica was my fourth grade teacher at OLA for the 1952 - 53 school year. Although I was very young I remember her to be a very involved, caring teacher. At the end of the school year Sister presented me with a plaster statue of St. Francis of Assisi because he was my patron saint. I do not know if she gave similar gifts to other students, but this present made me feel extremely special. Sister Mary Seraphica is one of the very few teachers whose name I remember from my grade school years. She made quite an impression.
    -- (Frank LaVere, Former Student - August 2014)