St Teresa of Calcutta and Fr Doyle

Saint Teresa of Calcutta

 

Today is the feast of 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 learned about Fr Doyle from the Jesuits and was obviously 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, St Raphael Arnaiz Barron and Blessed John Sullivan. 

22 August 1917: Fr Doyle mentioned in the Daily Express and in The Times

The following was written about Fr Doyle by Sir Percival Phillips, the famous war correspondent, and appeared in the Daily Express on this day in 1917.

The Orangemen will not forget a certain Roman Catholic chaplain who lies in a soldier’s grave in that sinister plain beyond Ypres. He went forward and back over the battle field with bullets whining about him, seeking out the dying and kneeling in the mud beside them to give them Absolution, walking with death with a smile on his face, watched by his men with reverence and a kind of awe until a shell burst near him and he was killed. His familiar figure was seen and welcomed by hundreds of Irishmen who lay in that bloody place. Each time he came back across the field he was begged to remain in comparative safety. Smilingly he shook his head and went again into the storm. He had been with his boys at Ginchy and through other times of stress, and he would not desert them in their agony. They remember him as a saint — they speak his name with tears.

The Times also included this note on the same day. The chaplain in question was Fr Doyle.

Many tales of individual gallantry are told; two instances especially which should be recorded; one being that of an officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps attached to the Leinsters, who spent five hours in circumstances of the greatest danger tending the wounded, and behaving in all ways with consummate heroism; and the other that of a Roman Catholic chaplain who went up with the men, sustained and cheered them to the last, till he was killed.

21 August 1917: St Anthony’s Institute in Locre requests Fr Doyle’s “holy body”

During his time away from the trenches Fr Doyle often stayed in a convent in Locre. If my memory serves me correctly, he had an uninterrupted 13 hour sleep after one particularly trying period at the front, and on one occasion he got locked out and had to sleep on a bench outside. 

In any event, these nuns of St Anthony’s Institute obviously held Fr Doyle in very great esteem. They were heartbroken when they heard of his death, and on August 21 1917 they sent the following note to Fr Frank Browne, requesting that Fr Doyle’s body be buried in their convent.

What very sad news I have received! Our good brave holy Fr. Doyle has been killed! Compassionate Lord Jesus give him eternal rest! Rev. Fr Browne will accept my condolence, my feelings of sympathy in the great loss of our good Fr. Doyle, your confrere. Notre petit saint, he has now received his recompense for his holy life, his great love for God and neighbour. Oh! he was so much loved by everybody and we shall never forget him. We are all very glad to have had him with us in the convent and to have made his life as comfortable as possible. Were it not possible Rev. Fr. to bring his holy body to the convent? It were a great honour to us to have it.

Of course, Fr Doyle’s body was never found, and so the “holy body” of the “petit saint” never returned to St Anthony’s Institute. 

20 August 1917: Fr Frank Browne’s praise for Fr Doyle

On this day in 1917, 4 days after Fr Doyle’s death, Fr Frank Browne, the famous photographer and Jesuit military chaplain, wrote the following in a letter expressing his esteem for Fr Doyle. Fr Browne worked closely with Fr Doyle, and these words come from the pen of one who knew Fr Doyle intimately. 

All during these last months he was my greatest help, and to his saintly advice, and still more to his saintly example, I owe everything I felt and did. With him, as with others of us, his bravery was no mere physical show-off. He was afraid and felt fear deeply, how deeply few can realise. And yet the last word said of him to me by the Adjutant of the Royal Irish Rifles in answer to my question, ‘I hope you are taking care of Fr. Doyle?’, was, ‘He is as fond of the shells as ever.’ His one idea was to do God’s work with the men, to make them saints. How he worked and how he prayed for this! Fine weather and foul he was always thinking of them and what he could do for them. In the cold winter he would not use the stove I bought for our dug-out. He scoffed at the idea as making it ‘stuffy’ – and that when the thermometer was fifteen to twenty degrees below zero, the coldest ever known in living memory here.

And how he loathed it all, the life and everything it implied! And yet nobody suspected it. God’s Will was his law. And to all who remonstrated, ‘Must I not be about the Lord’s business?’ was his laughing answer in act and deed and not merely in word. May he rest in peace — it seems superfluous to pray for him.

August 18: St Alberto Hurtado and Fr Doyle

St Alberto Hurtado

Today is the feast of St Alberto Hurtado, a Jesuit saint from Chile. He was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, and is renowned for his social work and love of the poor.

Contacts in Chile also tell me that he is remembered among the Jesuits there as a devotee of Fr Doyle. He apparently distributed literature relating to Fr Doyle and encouraged others to learn about his life. I understand that he came to Ireland as a young Jesuit to learn English, so it was probably on this occasion that he heard about Fr Doyle. Here we have a joyful, cheerful modern saint who was devoted to social justice and who also presumably derived personal spiritual benefits from the example, and words, of Fr Doyle.

St Alberto is not alone – we know that St Josemaria Escriva, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Raphael Arnaiz Baron, Blessed John Sullivan, Venerable Adolphus Petit and the Servant of God Bernard Quinn all admired Fr Doyle. I have also recently learned that the Servant of God Mother Adele Garner, the foundress of Tyburn Convent, knew Fr Doyle in life and was devoted to him after his death.  There may well be other well known saints who were also devoted to him that I am unaware of, and indeed there are many thousands of ordinary people from all walks of life who have been inspired by Fr Doyle’s love of God and of neighbour.

I am not aware of a specific reference to Fr Doyle in St Alberto’s writings, but there may well be something there: if anybody knows anything please let me know.

There is a list of some meditations in English from St Alberto hereInterestingly, St Alberto refers to the Venerable Matt Talbot (we have no direct evidence, but also surely a devotee of Fr Doyle??) in this meditation.

 

Fr Willie the Wonder Worker?

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 Fr Doyle. 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 Willie (1931)

2 days until Fr Doyle’s anniversary. What will YOU do to make him more well known?

Fr Doyle’s 103rd anniversary is in two days time – 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! Perhaps you could give Carmel Kelly’s Man of the People to a child? Or perhaps my own recent effort To Raise the Fallen? Or perhaps you might want to buy and watch EWTN’s Bravery Under Fire?

Perhaps you might want to send somebody this newsletter on Fr Doyle from St Joseph’s Abbey in Flavigny in France? Flavigny newsletter May 2013

Almost all of us can find something to do to make Fr Doyle more well known over these next two days!

25 July 1923: Praise for Fr Doyle from the Methodists (Post 2 of 5 today)

The President of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference, in an address made on this day in 1923, had the following praise for Fr Doyle:

I have been profoundly stirred in recent months by the experience of a young Roman Catholic saint, a member of the Society of Jesus, a tremendous lover of Jesus, a tremendous soul-winner, a great human and a great humorist.

He had presumably been reading an early edition of the O’Rahilly biography and was deeply impressed at Fr Doyle’s example. Of course, in referring to Fr Doyle was a saint he was using the term in a popular and unofficial manner.

This quote, from a non-Catholic clergyman, is just one of innumerable examples of how Fr Doyle’s admirable holiness and humanity have inspired people from all sorts of backgrounds and philosophies. Fr Doyle was all things to all men – almost everyone can find something appealing and attractive about him once they study his life and spirit with an open mind.

It’s also worth recalling today was a significant ecumenical figure Fr Doyle was. He died whole rescuing two Northern Irish Protestant soldiers. Fr Doyle was, essentially, an ecumenical martyr of charity. It is an aspect of his story that has been strangely ignored over the years.

12 July 1922: An alleged favour in South Africa through Fr Doyle’s intercession

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 blog and website was launched 10 years ago today (Post 3 of 3 today)

This website was launched 10 years ago today. How quickly time goes! 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 10 years later.

I guess I now know the answer to all of these questions!

The last 10 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 or asking for prayers 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 10 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 10 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.