The Story of Our Founder,
Rev. Joseph A. Skelley, CM
“Wear this Medal always!” These were a mother’s parting words to her son as she hung a Miraculous Medal around his neck. The boy was leaving home to begin studying for the priesthood. She meant them as a mother’s advice, her way of handing over her son into the keeping of a Mother greater than she.
It was September of 1890, when, having placed the Miraculous Medal around her son’s neck, Elizabeth Hanlon Skelly said goodbye to her 16-year-old son, Joseph. Little did she realize in that gesture, that she was placing the Miraculous Medal around the necks of hundreds of millions of people. Joseph never forgot his mother’s advice, and he spoke of it even into his old age. But, more importantly, he began as a teenage seminarian to meditate upon the meaning of the Medal.
Rev. Joseph A. Skelly, CM
Two years after his ordination, on June 9, 1900, Father Joseph A. Skelly, CM, was appointed the Prefect of the Minor Seminary in Germantown. In 1912, Father Skelly was asked to dedicate his time to raising funds for the building of a new seminary. Remembering his mother’s advice, and because of his own devotion to the Miraculous Medal, Father Skelly placed a small Medal in each appeal letter that he mailed. So generous was the response brought through the intercession of Mary Immaculate that Father Skelly felt some special mark of gratitude to Our Lady was in order.
After prayer and consultation, it was decided to form—in March of 1915—The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal (CAMM), a society devoted to Mary’s interests, with Father Skelly as its first Director.
Father Skelly died on July 8, 1963, in the Miraculous Medal Priests’ Residence at 5710 Magnolia Street; he is buried in the Crypt at the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.