When the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales announced the death of their brother Rev. Cornelius (Neil) F. Kilty, OSFS, last week, the tributes on Facebook came pouring in. Hundreds of Northeast Catholic High School (North) alumni shared sentiments about the beloved Oblate who served at the now-closed school for over 30 years.
For many alumni, Fr. Kilty was synonymous with North Catholic. “Father Kilty was without equal in his love and devotion to North Catholic! Father Kilty was North Catholic,” said Joe Glackin, Class of 1973 who later sent his three sons to the school. Like many North families, the Glackins stayed in touch with Fr. Kilty and offered countless memories of the priest teacher who became a dear friend.
“He was truly a great priest who showed us how humor can be used to bring us closer to God,” wrote Brendan Glackin, Class of 2006 Others wrote of his incredible intellect, love of reading, and tireless devotion to North where he taught Latin, Greek, coached track & field, and served as activities director. He was also Superior of the Northeast Catholic Oblate Community and oversaw the renovations of the Oblate House chapel and over projects around the property.
“He loved North so much, he even spent hot summers painting the fence around the school,” recalled Joe Glackin.
A faithful North “Falcon” until he died, Fr. Kilty was the chaplain of the Northeast Catholic Alumni Association for 25 years. He wrote a column in their newsletter and, even in retirement, organized the Alumni Mass & Communion Breakfast.
“Father had a fierce following, even those who didn’t have him in class…everyone knew he was 100% committed to the students,” said Mike Ritchie, Class of 1984 and former North colleague.
A professed member of the Oblates for 62 years and a priest for 54 years, Fr. Kilty attended Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish School. He remained dedicated to his home parish (now part of Saint John Paul II Parish) for his entire life. He was first introduced to the Oblates at North and after he graduated in 1959, he joined the community.
Fr. Kilty earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French and Spanish from Niagara University and a Master of Arts Degree in Classical Languages from Villanova University. He completed his formational studies for the priesthood at De Sales School of Theology.
After North closed, Fr. Kilty taught part-time at Neumann-Goretti High School. A new generation learned Latin, Greek and the old jokes that Fr. Kilty had been handing down for four decades. He also served at Father Judge High School as the Studies Director and Latin teacher, and taught at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in addition to Holy Family, Immaculata, and La Salle Universities.
During the 1970s, Fr. Kilty served as President of the Council of Religious Teachers for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and was a frequent lecturer, facilitator, and retreat director for many communities of consecrated women religious in the Archdiocese.
He was most associated with the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne (New York) and the Sacred Heart Home for Incurable Cancer that they ran. While a North student he was an altar server at the home. Later, he ministered there as a priest, saying 6:30 a.m. Mass every morning until the home closed in 2018.
In his retirement, Fr. Kilty was the Oblate Province archivist, compiling reports, writing articles, and typing up reflections and homilies on his trusty (and old) typewriter. He continued his ministry to North alumni and will not soon be forgotten by the North community. “The guy lived and breathed North Catholic,” said Mike Ritchie. “That’s who he was,”
The viewing for Fr. Kilty is Tuesday, September 19 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Nativity BVM Church with the Mass of Christian Burial at 7 PM. Burial is Wednesday, September 20 at the Oblate Cemetery in Childs, MD.
Donations in memory of Fr. Kilty can be made here.
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