Thoughts for May 5 from Fr Willie Doyle

Blessed Edmund Rice

Having completed his course of philosophy, Willie returned to Clongowes in 1901 for another period of prefecting. Here he remained for two years, and he was then transferred to the teaching staff of Belvedere College, Dublin, where he spent a fruitful year of labour. For, as the immediate preparation for the priesthood drew near, zeal for souls that was afterwards to become so strong and ardent, began now to show itself more markedly in his life. He did much good work for the Apostleship of Prayer and for temperance among the boys in Belvedere, with whom he was even more popular than among those he had left behind in Clongowes. The stirring little talks he gave occasionally to his class made an impression which some of his pupils still recall. Especially was he insistent on the spirit of self-sacrifice and on Holy Communion. His attractive character and kindness led many of the boys to give him their confidence and seek help and counsel in their difficulties and doubts; and more than one vocation was discussed and decided at these interviews.

COMMENTS: These words about Fr Doyle are taken from O’Rahilly’s biography of his life. Fr Doyle seems to have been a conscientious and popular teacher in the two Jesuit schools in which he was stationed during his years of formation. He realised that the task of Catholic education is not just to train children for jobs, but to shape and mould their character and to equip them for a future of personal virtue and civic service.

Today is the feast of Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice, the founder of both the Irish Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers. These congregations were formed to provide a specifically Catholic education for boys during the period immediately after the Penal Laws when there was little or no Catholic schooling in Ireland. Blessed Edmund’s contribution to Irish life is incalculable.

One thought on “Thoughts for May 5 from Fr Willie Doyle

  1. Fr Sean Coyle, a frequent reader who leaves many comments on the site, had some difficulties posting this comment and asked me to do so on his behalf…

    Thank you for mentioning that today is the feast day of Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice. When he was beatified on 6 October 1996 we had a special Mass in the chapel of our main house in Manila. This was organised by the late Fr Frank Carey and myself. Father Frank was a product of the Irish Christian Brothers in Melbourne. A very large percentage of our Australian Columbans and quite a number of our Irish members went to Christian Brothers’ schools.

    I am immensely grateful to God for the ten years I spent in O’Connell Schools in Dublin. A group of us who died our Leaving Certificate in 1961 were meeting regularly before Covid-19 and the names of certain Brothers and teachers nearly always came up in conversation. Most of us belonged to the first generation in our families to have a chance to go to secondary school.

    A practice introduced by Blessed Edmund in all the Brothers’ schools was to pray the Hail Mary every hour on the hour. I don’t know if that practice is still followed. May our Blessed Mother protect the Brothers in Ireland, most of whom now are on the older side, and may the two congregations who honour Blessed Edmund as their founder continue to grow in other countries.

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