Books about Fr Doyle. Part 2: Fr Willie Doyle & WW1 – A Chaplain’s Story

The publication of K.V. Turkey’s article in the Catholic Herald (see is a great opportunity to write about this excellent Catholic Truth Society booklet by the same author. This booklet has the distinct honour (as far as I am aware) of being the first entirely new book in English about Fr Doyle in nearly 75 years (I did hear a rumour of another book written by a priest in Ratcliffe College England – where Willie went to school – some years ago but I haven’t been able to confirm this or track it down, so information is welcome).

This CTS booklet is an excellent short, but comprehensive, summary of all of Fr Doyle’s life and spirit. One of the great benefits of CTS booklets is that they are very cheap to buy and thus it is economical to buy a batch and distribute them to others who may be interested. For this reason it is a very important publication that has surely put Fr Doyle on the radar of many other people who would otherwise never have heard of him.

Copies can be found here:

Buy a batch and distribute to others!

By the way, K.V. Turley frequently writes articles for blogs and websites, often on saints or other interesting figures that are likely to be of interest to readers of this blog. His articles are always well worth reading.

Article about Fr Doyle in the Catholic Herald

The UK’s Catholic Herald has an article about Fr Doyle written by K.V Turley, the author of Fr Willie Doyle & World War 1: A Chaplain’s Story published by the Catholic Truth Society.

Check out the article here and share it with others:

Fr Doyle was ordained 110 years ago today.

28 July 1907, Miltown Park, Dublin. Fr Doyle is marked with an X.

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 firm resolve is to strive with might and main to become a saint.

COMMENT: These words were written 110 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. He gives us some hint of his esteem for the priesthood 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.

And on 28th July 1914, the 7th anniversary of his ordination, he wrote:

At Exposition Jesus spoke clearly in my soul, ‘Do the hard thing for my sake BECAUSE it is hard’. I also felt urged to perform all my priestly duties with great fervour to obtain grace for other priests to do the same, e.g. the Office, that priests may say theirs well.

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…

Here is a prayer for priests composed by Fr Doyle:

O my God, pour out in abundance Thy spirit of sacrifice upon Thy priests. It is both their glory and their duty to become victims, to be burnt up for souls, to live without ordinary joys, to be often the objects of distrust, injustice, and persecution.

The words they say every day at the altar, “This is my Body, this is my Blood,” grant them to apply to themselves: “I am no longer myself, I am Jesus, Jesus crucified. I am, like the bread and wine, a substance no longer itself, but by consecration another.”

O my God, I burn with desire for the sanctification of Thy priests. I wish all the priestly hands which touch Thee were hands whose touch is gentle and pleasing to Thee, that all the mouths uttering such sublime words at the altar should never descend to speaking trivialities.

Let priests in all their person stay at the level of their lofty functions, let every man find them simple and great, like the Holy Eucharist, accessible to all yet above the rest of men. O my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today, a thirst for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, ladened themselves with gifts, to share these abundantly with their fellow men. Amen.

Fr Doyle was not the only remarkable Irish Jesuit ordained on July 28, 1907. His friend, Blessed John Sullivan was also ordained at the same time. 

Blessed John Sullivan

Books about Fr Doyle. Part 1: The classic O’Rahilly biography

In preparation for Fr Doyle’s 100th anniversary, and also for the arrival of To Raise the Fallen (front cover above), the the latest book about Fr Doyle which is to be formally launched in two weeks (and which should be available for sale in the next few days), I thought it would be useful to start a small series highlighting other books about Fr Doyle that people may want to consult if they have not done so.

The original book about Fr Doyle, and which most other books borrow from to a greater or lesser extent, is the classic biography by Alfred O’Rahilly, first published in the 1920’s. This book ran into at least 5 editions that I am aware of, and was translated into the major European languages. It is a comprehensive guide to Fr Doyle’s life and spirit. It has inspired literally thousands of people, and it was my own inspiration to start this site when I first read it 7 years ago. It is all the more remarkable to consider that O’Rahilly was in his early 30s when he wrote it. 

There are significant differences between the various editions, with the 3rd and later editions being a bit longer than the first two. The later editions do contain extra information about Fr Doyle’s life, but most of the extra material is essentially a defence of Fr Doyle’s spirituality.

It is an excellent book for those who want a serious and comprehensive study of Fr Doyle’s life and spirit and is highly recommended.

Later editions can sometimes be found online or in second hand book stores but they will become rarer over time. The 2nd edition (a little shorter but still excellent and comprehensive) can be found online in print on demand formats by searching for it on Amazon (I’m having difficulties inserting an Amazon link for some reason); it is also at the following link: