Today is the 1st birthday of the Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ website and blog!
This is the 325th post, so I haven’t quite managed to upload a post everyday as I had hoped and intended. I missed these various days mainly due to being just far too busy. Mea culpa!
The blog contains over 140,000 words either from Fr Doyle’s own writings or of commentary on his life and spirit, and there have been 140 comments from readers over the course of the year as well. I have also made some very good friends online through the site, I have met physically with some of them, I have been graced to receive emails telling me about favours granted through Fr Doyle’s intercession. I have also had the great blessing of being able to visit Fr Doyle’s family home in Dalkey on the anniversary of his death.
How did the website come about? Well, it was never my intention to set up a website at all. I had never done it before, and I didn’t (and don’t!) really have enough time for it. However, on June 5th last year, I was in a second hand bookshop which I frequent regularly. As I was leaving the store after buying an old book, the owner did something he has never done before, and has never done since. He called out to me and said that he had a book that would interest me. It was A Year’s Thoughts, a book containing snippets from Fr Doyle’s writings for every day of the year. Of course, I bought it immediately, and I was intrigued that he would call me back to give me this book. I thought that it would be useful for my own spiritual nourishment, and I never thought it would lead to anything more.
The next day at Mass the idea suddenly popped into my head that I should set up a blog to share these daily thoughts with others, and in this way introduce others to Fr Doyle and thus help us to “remember” this great man. And so that’s what I did. I started straight away after Mass. I knew nothing about setting up a blog and had no real vision for what it would look like. Originally I just intended to give Fr Doyle’s daily quote, but over the course of the three days of gestation and development before the site went live, it became apparent that it would be useful to contextualise his comments for modern readers.
Over time the site developed in a couple of new directions – the addition of commemorations for the feasts of saints whose lives of spirit might reflect something of Fr Doyle’s, and then the commemoration of various anniversaries in the life of Fr Doyle, especially as they relate to his experience in the war.
I originally intended to keep the site for one year, and then to leave it, perhaps even with a view to doing something for some other saint or someone who should be recognised as such.
However, it has become apparent to me that I should not abandon the site, nor should I cease my activity to “remember” Fr Doyle. In fact, the completion of one year’s worth of posts will enable to me to intensify these efforts…
Finding a relevant quote for each day and then contextualising it with a comment from a saint or some other historical explanation is a time consuming task, much more so than I had ever imagined. It’s a task that I have not always done well. But now that I have completed a year (minus about 40 days when I didn’t get a post up), I will have quite a bit more time to devote to other ways of making Fr Doyle known and loved. I intend to largely recycle the posts, but with improvements and better commentary in places. I also intend to commemorate anniversaries in Fr Doyle’s life that I might have missed. But now thankfully most of the heavy lifting has been completed, and I can devote time and energy to other writing projects related to Fr Doyle…
Thank you to those who have written to me personally over the year and to those who have commented on the site. And a special thanks to Fr Willie himself for the many favours he has procured for me over the past year.
One final comment on this anniversary. I have probably written more here about myself than in the previous 324 posts combined. All along I have been determined that the site would not be about me or my views about the world. I have deliberately kept the site anonymous, simply because the site is about Fr Doyle, and not about me.
Thank you for reading, and if you have gained anything from the site, please don’t keep it to yourself – tell others about it!