Instead of a quote from Fr Doyle, today we present, courtesy of the Irish Messenger, a scanned copy of a booklet published in 1931 entitled “Father Willie”. It seems appropriate to look at this booklet today, the day following his anniversary. And the title of today’s post, suggesting that Fr Doyle is a “wonder worker” is not mine, but rather comes from this Jesuit pamphlet.
No author is mentioned for this booklet which leads me to believe that it was written by Fr Doyle’s brother Fr Charles Doyle SJ. Fr Charlie was Fr Willie’s great friend and boyhood companion, and it was he who recruited Willie to the Jesuits – Willie had considered becoming a diocesan priest and decided to become a Jesuit following some prodding from Charlie.
The first 19 pages of the booklet provide a short biography of Fr Doyle’s life which might be of special interest for individuals who are relatively new to this site. There are some letters attesting to people’s devotion to Fr Doyle, followed by an incredible 26 pages of reported favours and cures allegedly granted through Fr Doyle’s intercession.
The figures are astounding. The booklet was published in 1931, a mere 14 years after Fr Doyle’s death, and only 11 years after the first edition of O’Rahilly’s biography was first published. In that time, a staggering 6,426 alleged favours were reported through Fr Doyle’s intercession!
These alleged favours came from all around the world – amongst many other countries from every continent, there are 101 from Australia, 21 from New Zealand, 53 from India, 11 from Brazil, 71 from various parts of Africa, 57 from Holland, 791 from England, 1,872 from the United States and 3,197 from Ireland.
These figures are truly amazing in an era before the internet and global mass media, especially when one considers the social and economic situation in the 1920’s. It is also likely that many more people felt that they received favours from Fr Doyle but never got around to reporting them. The true figure is likely much higher than 6,426,
Of course, without further details, and without the guidance of the Church, one cannot say with certainty that Fr Doyle answered these prayers, or that there is anything other than natural processes at work. Some of the alleged favours are quite small. Having said that, some seem to involve significant and unexplained healings.
The one conclusion that we can definitely draw from this booklet was that there was a significant, global devotion to Fr Doyle in the first half of the 20th Century, and that many thousands of people felt that their prayers were answered through his intercession.
Some people do not fully appreciate the Communion of Saints. In our natural world, we do not hesitate to ask others – friends, family, priests – to pray for us and for our concerns. The doctrine of the Communion of Saints is the very same, except we ask our friends in Heaven (the saints) to pray for us. It is not the saints themselves who answer our prayer, and we do not strictly pray to them, but we ask them to intercede for us with God. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses it:
They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus.
So, let us remember that we have a friend in Fr Doyle, and ask him for his help in our temporal and spiritual needs, whether they are big or small. And let us remember that the best way to ensure the beatification and canonisation of those we admire is through reporting favours we feel have come through their intercession.
Here is the booklet:
Fr Doyle’s 102nd anniversary is tomorrow – August 16. It is an excellent time to tell people about his life and his message. I always find that people – even if they have little or no faith or interest in religion – are amazed at his life and his heroism when they first encounter him. Introducing people to the example of Fr Doyle is a useful act of apostolate.
Perhaps it would be good to take the opportunity of his anniversary to tell people about Fr Doyle? Perhaps his example has enriched your life in some way? There’s no better way to thank him than by telling others about him.
You could refer people to this site – talk to them, email them, or put a note about it on Facebook or twitter or some other social network.
Have you told your local priest about Fr Doyle? Or if you are in a prayer group, have you told them?
Have you read any of the books about Fr Doyle? The classic and original O’Rahilly biography, or Carole Hope’s Worshiper and Worshipped, or the Catholic Truth Society booklet by K.V. Turley? This CTS booklet has the great advantage of being relatively cheap to buy – you can buy a bundle and distribute them! Or perhaps my own recent effort To Raise the Fallen? The more people who buy it now, the greater visibility it will have in shops. Links to all of these are available in the right hand column (if you read this on a smart phone the “column” appears below this page).
Almost all of us can find something to do to make Fr Doyle more well known over these days!
A nun in South Africa wrote the following letter on this day (July 12) in 1922, alleging a favour through Fr Doyle’s intercession:
One of our Community had for some time been seriously ill in a sanatorium. One evening I got a telephone message to say Sister was on the point of death and that the doctor declared there was no hope unless a change took place at once. I called the Community together and we knelt down and asked Fr Doyle to send a change for the better by seven o’clock. It was then 6.30pm. Next day I went to the sanatorium. The infirmarian came out to meet me and her first words were: ‘Sister is out of danger, the change came in time’. I asked at what hour. ‘Seven o’clock last night’, was the reply. I had promised Fr Willie to have Masses said if he got our request granted, and that day i arranged for a number to be said in thanksgiving.
Of course, we do not have the competence to say for certain that this cure was brought about through Fr Doyle’s intercession, much less that it was a miracle. However, it is worth noting that this was a community of nuns praying to him in 1922, less than 5 years after his death, and we know that within 14 years of this death, there were at least 6,426 alleged favours from around the globe reportedly through Fr Doyle’s intercession. Were they all mere coincidences? Were there purely natural explanations for these favours? That is a judgement for others to make.
But what we can say with certainty is that there was a real and substantial global devotion to Fr Doyle, and that this interest in his life and message is growing again.
This website was launched 9 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 9 years later.
I guess I now know the answer to all of these questions!
The last 9 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 last 9 years have seen a huge increase in interest in Fr Doyle. This is most clearly seen in the range of books and TV programmes that have been produced about him over this time. Links to these books can be found in the right hand column of this page (for those viewing it on a computer or laptop).
Thank you to all of those who have helped and commented and become friends through this site over the past 9 years. Let us continue to work together to make Fr Doyle more well known and hasten the day when the cause for his canonisation is opened.
Another interview from a few months back, this time Walking in Faith from Holy Spirit Radio, hosted by Barbara Shinkle. This one was actually one of my favourite interviews of all.
It is available on the link dated 11/08/2018 in the archive for 2018.
Over the past few months I have taken part in quite a lot of radio interviews about Fr Doyle. I am slowly getting around to posting them online. Here is another from last November from Mater Dei Radio; the programme is hosted by Mary Harrell.