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This website was launched 7 years ago today. At the time, I wasn’t sure how it would develop or whether anyone would be interested or whether I would have personally have the interest, or material, to keep it going. I honestly never thought that I would still be running it 7 years later.
I guess I now know the answer to all of these questions!
The last 7 years shows me that there is a global interest in Fr Doyle’s life and spirit. Many people around the world write to me asking about Fr Doyle’s cause or asking about the possibility of a posthumous award of the Victoria Cross or reporting a favour allegedly granted through Fr Doyle’s intercession. Others write to tell me about the inter-generational devotion to Fr Doyle in their family because of the help he gave to their grandfather or great-grandfather in the war.
Perhaps the most interesting of all are those – especially the young – who write to me having heard of Fr Doyle for the first time, and who have become intrigued by his spirit and his message and want to know more.
The greatest sign of ongoing devotion to Fr Doyle is the fact that three new books have been published about him in just the last few yearss. Carole Hope’s thorough new biography of the war years entitled Worshipper and Worshipped and KV Turley’s excellent introductory CTS booklet as well as a new book in French published by the Amis de St Benoit Labre (see here). All three books were developed completely independently of this website – the diversity of people interested in promoting Fr Doyle’s memory is itself significant.
Thank you to all of those who have helped and commented and become friends through this site over the past 7 years.
And finally…I have some interesting news to announce at an appropriate time in the coming weeks. Watch this space…
The following article about Fr Doyle appeared on The Journal on Sunday. The Journal is an Irish online “newspaper”. It tends to be somewhat “left of centre” politically. The fairly positive comments about Fr Doyle from the readers are interesting – almost invariably comments on The Journal tend to be somewhat hostile to religion and anything connected with it. Fr Doyle’s humanity and heroism have a way of reaching people and inspiring those who are otherwise indifferent (or even cold) about the Catholic Church.
Collins Barracks in Dublin is currently running an exhibit about the Battle of Messiness Ridge, featuring some items owned by Fr Doyle. These items include part of his military uniform (which has been cut up over the years to provide relics), his military gloves (the right index finger also looks like it was cut to provide relics), a copy of the letter from General Hickie to Hugh Doyle testifying to Fr Doyle’s bravery and courage, one of his stoles and his military medals. Some photos below.
Last week The Irish Times published a special supplement on the First World War, and it contained 2 articles about Fr Doyle. One was by Carole Hope on aspects of Fr Doyle’s war service. Carole is the author of the excellent Worshipper and Worshipped, which is the definitive account of Fr Doyle’s military life. It also contained a short article by me, making the argument for Fr Doyle’s canonisation – a very hard task with a limit of only 500 words!
In any event, the articles are now online. Here are some links to the articles:
As we approach the 100th anniversary of Fr Doyle’s death, it is an appropriate occasion to remind people of Carole’s book, which gives a very detailed picture of Fr Doyle’s war life and is hugely informative about this key time in Fr Doyle’s life.
New readers who heard about Fr Doyle for the first time after this evening’s set of readings about his life in Sallynoggin parish in Dublin may find the following resources useful in getting an overview of his life:
Article in Studies magazine:
Newsletter from St Joseph’s Abbey in Flavigny, France:
Some time ago I read the Life of Father William Doyle, the Irish Jesuit-Chaplain, who was killed in the late World War. It was made up chiefly from a Diary which he kept, and which, I am sure, he never intended for eyes other than his own. What struck me most in his life was the fact that this good missionary priest had never done anything extraordinary. One day, not long ago, I met a Good Shepherd nun who had known Father Doyle very intimately in Ireland. I asked her if she could tell me anything about the secret of his holiness. She told me that holiness was as natural to Father Doyle as wings are to a bird. She had known him in his youth, and she had greeted him upon the occasion of his ordination. Like (Saint) Therese, he had always the desire of going on a foreign mission where he might suffer martyrdom.
He was never singular. In a gathering he was just one of his brethren, earnest in his work, and just as eager as the rest in his play. He practiced mortifications, but they were simple ones. For example, he ate everything at table just as it came from the kitchen. He refrained from using salt, and only when he was away from home did he take butter. This he did to avoid being noticed. This may all sound very childish, but have you ever noticed that those who appeal most to the worldliest and busiest of men are the orphan child and the old man who has been reduced once more by the ravages of age to a second childhood? The charge our nuns in the orphan asylums, and those Little Sisters of the Poor in our homes for the aged never want sympathy.
Hence we find that our little Saint performed no exterior works of greatness. She used to speak of her way to holiness as “The Little Way for Little Souls”. Like the holy Jesuit whom I have just mentioned, she did the common things of life uncommonly well. Herein lay the secret of her sanctity. Herein lies for us the happy thought that we, too, and will become saints of God, if we but perform the ordinary duties of our state in life extraordinarily well.
Holiness was as natural to Fr Doyle as wings to a bird! What a wonderful testimony!
These words were written by the Servant of God Servant of God Monsignor Bernard Quinn, who was born on this day in 1888 in New Jersey. His father and mother were both Irish – from Counties Cavan and Offaly respectively. Monsignor Quinn was himself a chaplain in the First World War, and perhaps this is why Fr Doyle’s life and example impressed him so much. They both also shared a great devotion to St Therese. Fr Doyle also went to Lisieux; he visited Therese’s grave but it is not recorded if he said Mass in the room in which she was born.
Monsignor Quinn was renowned for his remarkable pastoral care for the black people in his area, long before this was seen as normal or acceptable. He was known as a second St Peter Claver, after the Jesuit saint who tended to the black slaves in South America in the 17th Century. In this stance he showed great courage and a pioneering spirit, something else that he shared with Fr Doyle (Fr Doyle was a pioneer in encouraging retreats for lay people in the face of some clerical opposition; he also organised very effective fundraising campaigns for the missions through what he called his “Black Baby Crusade”).
Monsignor Quinn died at the early age of 52 in 1940 and his cause was officially opened in 2010. More information on Monsignor Quinn can be found at www.fatherquinn.org Monsignor Quinn wrote a booklet and novena in honour of St Therese (from which today’s quote was taken). It can be found here: http://www.fatherquinn.org/docs/writings/THE_LITTLE_FLOWER_BOOKLET_1925.pdf
In the example of the Servant of God Monsignor Quinn we find another holy soul who admired, and was inspired by, Fr Doyle.