St Teresa of Calcutta and Fr Doyle

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Today is the feast of the newly canonised Saint Teresa of Calcutta, one of the most famous and popular Catholics of recent times. Saint Teresa was Albanian, but she lived in Dublin for a number of years while she was a Loreto sister. In fact, the house she lived in was in Rathfarnham, very close to the Jesuit house there where Fr Doyle had spent some time. The young St Teresa had obviously come in contact with the Jesuits there, and she read Alfred O’Rahilly’s biography of Fr Doyle and was very impressed. She even decided to adopt some of Fr Doyle’s spiritual practices.

Here is a description from the book “Come be my Light” written by Fr Brian Kolodiejchuk MC, the postulator for her canonisation cause.

It was this mysterious feature of love that moved Mother Teresa to seal the total offering of herself by means of a vow and thus tangibly express her longing to be fully united with her Beloved…Thus for Mother Teresa the vow was the means of strengthening the bond with the One she loved and so experiencing the true freedom that only love can give.

Mother Teresa would have read about the practice of making private vows in the spiritual literature of her time.

Irish Jesuit Fr William Doyle, made numerous private vows, as he found this practice a help in keeping his resolutions. One such vow, which he made in 1911 and renewed from day to day until he could obtain permission from his confessor to make it permanently, was “I deliberately vow, and bind myself, under pain of mortal sin, to refuse Jesus no sacrifice, which I clearly see He is asking from me”.

Fr Kolodiejchuk then describes how Sister Benigna Consolata Ferrero (an Italian nun) and St Therese of Lisieux both adopted this same spiritual practice. He then concludes:

Reading about this promise of her patron saint (St Therese) as well as the private vows made by Fr Doyle and Sr Benigna Consolata no doubt inspired Mother Teresa and influenced her to do the same.

How remarkable – yet another saint who has been inspired by Fr Doyle’s example! St Teresa is added to the list of those whose holiness has been formally recognised by the Church and who were inspired by Fr Doyle: St Josemaria Escriva, St Alberto Hurtago and the soon to be beatified Venerable John Sullivan. 


One thought on “St Teresa of Calcutta and Fr Doyle

  1. San Alberto Hurtado SJ is part of the Rathfarnham connection, having spent some time at Rathfarnham Castle in the early 1930s learning English. While there he learned about Matt Talbot. Matt died exactly three weeks after the canonisation of St Therese of Lisieux in 1925.

    I would balk at the vow you highlighted today. I’m not sure if it is not ‘tempting’ God. But Father Willie didn’t make that vow permanently without the permission of his confessor. Still, I wonder.

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