Willie Doyle SJ
Willie Doyle SJ was born in Dalkey on 3 March 1873 to an affluent Catholic family. Willie entered the Society of Jesus in 1891. taking vows, Fr. Doyle embarked on a period of Jesuit formation known as Regency. Fr. Doyle worked in two Jesuit schools Clongowes Wood College and Belvedere College. He was ordained in 1908. His prayerful nature took him into Retreat Ministry after ordination. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are a popular way of praying in our time. At the turn of the Twentieth Century, they were almost the exclusive preserve of priests brothers and religious sisters. The Exercises made such a profound impact on Fr. Doyle that he felt they should be available to the largest audience possible. Fr. Doyle also had a great interest in vocations to religious life, and produced two bestselling pamphlets on the priesthood which were published by the Sacred Heart Messenger. In 1915 he volunteered as a Chaplain in the First World War. His time in the war saw him demonstrate great acts of heroism. His death in August 1917 came as a great blow to those who had known him. He died attempting to save injured soldiers from the battlefield at Ypres. His body was initially recovered, but subsequently obliterated by a German shell. Interest in his life was sparked by a book written by Professor Alfred O'Rahilly, which became a bestseller. The book went on to inspire future saints, like Mother Teresa. The desire to have Fr. Doyle declared a saint received much traction in the 1930s, but it lapsed as the Irish Jesuits preferred to give their energies to the cause of Fr. John Sullivan. In recent years the cause has begun to get traction and a lay Association of the Faithful is working to have it promoted.
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