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  Like all of us, Keely was certainly moved by a number of influences, both conscious and subconscious. God and Ireland loomed large in the life view of the great wave of immigrants from the “old sod.” The Roman Catholic Church was the center of life. The liturgical calendar was driving the year and the sacraments marked the passage of each soul’s time on earth. Kith and kin shared this framework almost without exception.

The community was thus bound, and comfortable in their bonds. “Ask the good father what we should do.” So closely were heaven and earth tied in this setting that the waters washing against the rock on Ireland’s shore echoed in the waters washing the precious infants over the rock marble font in the houses of worship.

It was inevitable that American churches designed by the Irish for the Irish would not be of simple Quaker framework or have the stark interiors of the Congregationalists. No, these would be where the larger family, the body of Christ, gathered to adore, repent, give thanks and beg aid in distress. For that, the buildings had to reflect the “gracious firmament”, explicitly celebrating the glory of God. Exposed to the art and architecture of his day, Keely took what he had assimilated, and then designed from the deep well of his own inseparable faith and culture. His buildings were not merely to accommodate the faithful, but to rejoice in the Faith.

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