My loving Jesus, on this the morning of my Ordination to the priesthood, I wish to place in Your Sacred Heart, in gratitude for all that You have done for me, the resolution from this day forward to go straight to holiness. My earnest wish and form resolve is to strive with might and main to become a saint.
COMMENT: These words were written 104 years ago today, on July 28, 1907, on the morning of Fr Doyle’s ordination to the priesthood in Miltown Park, County Dublin.
Fr Doyle loved being a priest, so it is hard for us (especially those of us who are lay people) to fully appreciate the significance of this development in his life. He gives us some hint in letters that he wrote to his sister.
This one was sent to his sister a few weeks before the event:
As you may imagine, all my thoughts at present are centred on the Great Day, July 28th. The various events of the year have helped keep it before my mind, learning to say Mass, the Divine Office etc; but now that such a short time remains, I find it hard to realise that I shall be a priest so very soon. Were it not for all the good prayers, especially yours, sister mine, which are being offered up daily for me, I should almost feel in despair, because these long years of waiting (nearly 17 now) have only brought home to me how unworthy I am of such an honour and such a dignity.
On the day of his ordination he wrote the following lines to this same sister:
I know that you will be glad to receive a few lines from the hands which a few hours ago have been consecrated with the holy oil. Thank God a thousand thousand times, I can say at long last, I am a priest, even though I be so unworthy of all that holy name implies. How can I tell you all that my heart feels at this moment? It is full to overflowing with joy and peace and gratitude to the good God for all that He has done for me, and with heartfelt thankfulness to the dear old Missionary for all her prayers. . . . I say my first Mass to-morrow at nine at Hampton for the dear Parents, the second (also at nine) at Terenure will be for you. . . . Thank you for all you have done for me; but above all thank the dear Sacred Heart for this crowning grace imparted to your little brother who loves you so dearly.
Fr Doyle’s last ever entry in his diary was made on the 10th anniversary of his ordination (and 3 weeks prior to his death) on 28 July 1917:
I have again offered myself to Jesus as His Victim to do with me absolutely as He pleases. I will try to take all that happens, no matter from whom it comes, as sent to me by Jesus and will bear suffering, heat, cold, etc., with joy as part of my immolation, in reparation for the sins of priests. From this day I shall try bravely to bear all little pains in this spirit. A strong urging to this.
For Fr Doyle, his vocation was inseparable from his call to do penance for the sins of priests. How increasingly relevant Fr Doyle’s example is for us now in Ireland…
Fr Doyle was not the only remarkable Irish Jesuit ordained on July 28, 1907. His friend, the Servant of God Fr John Sullivan was also ordained at the same time. Fr Sullivan’s cause for beatification is proceeding and is currently with the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
I have deliberately avoided commenting on the recent extreme unpleasantness in Ireland surrounding the Cloyne Report and the subsequent attacks on the Church and on the seal of Confession. Perhaps on this anniversary of their ordination we can have recourse to the two great Jesuits, Fr Doyle and Fr Sullivan, that they pray for priests and especially for the Church in Ireland, that it may be purified and, being pruned, that it may grow once more.