Last Sunday in the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar, Bishop Tom Deenihan of Meath celebrated Mass for the opening of the Cause for Sainthood of Servant of God Father Willie Doyle, SJ – the first time a canonisation process opened in Ireland in over a quarter of a century.

During his Homily, Bishop Deenihan highlighted the ‘heroic desire of Father Doyle to serve and promote God’s Kingdom, that found ultimate expression on the battlefield when he was ministering, as an army chaplain, to soldiers, some of whom were Catholic, others Anglican.

“After bringing a soldier to safety, Father Doyle returned to the line of fire and was killed ministering to others. Pope Francis talks of the Church being a ‘Field Hospital’, it is an image that is appropriate here. Indeed, we are told that Father Doyle nominated for the Victoria Cross for bravery but it was not granted due to he being, as an article in the Irish Times put it a few weeks ago, suffering from the three disadvantages of being Catholic, a Priest and a Jesuit!”

The Bishop of Meath emphasised, “Father Doyle has something to say to our time when bridge builders are scarce. Nationality, creed and political belief were to him secondary and subservient to being a child of God. Indeed, one can see so many of the themes of Pope Francis’ papacy in Doyle’s life: charity, generosity, bridge building and brotherhood, Fratelli Tutti!.

“We pray that one day we shall count him amongst the canonised saints and enjoy his intercession on our behalf.”

Commenting on the opening of the Cause, the President of the Father Willie Doyle Association, Patrick Kenny, said, “ Many people, from all around the world, have written to us to ask for prayers for their healing through Father Willie’s intercession. It is evident that there is a strong affection for him out there, and it is notable that young people are especially impressed with the witness of Father Willie’s life. We look forward to introducing more people to his powerful story in the months and years ahead, and we encourage people to come forward and help us in whatever way they can in this exciting project”.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Diocesan Postulator Father John Hogan said, “We believe the life and death of Father Doyle have immense importance for the Church. He is a good and holy model of the priestly life. He is a sign of hope for those suffering with mental health issues due his own experience and recovery from a psychological breakdown in his youth. His desire to offer his life, penances and even his death as a reparation for the sins of priests can resonate with the Church in these times. His love and service of German soldiers offers the Church an example of universal charity. Father Willie can be seen as a servant of peace and reconciliation and a model of true ecumenism. In many ways his life and witness are more relevant to us now than they were 100 years ago”.

The Father Willie Doyle Association published a newly approved prayer for Father Willie’s canonisation, for more information visit: williedoyle.org.

ENDS