Father William Doyle, SJ

Father William Doyle, SJ was a well-known preacher and spiritual director in the early 20th Century.  He traveled the world giving missions and retreats, helping bring people closer to Jesus.  And yet he wrote these words in his journal while making the Spiritual Exercises on his 30-Day retreat in 1907:

Each fresh meditation of the life of our Lord impressed on me more and more the necessity of conforming my life to His in every detail, if I wish to please Him and to become holy. To do something great and heroic may never come to me, but I can make my life heroic by faithfully and daily putting my best effort into each duty as it comes around.

Something great and heroic would come to Father Doyle within a decade.  On August 16, 1917 he found himself on the battlefield of Ypres, running back and forth across the field and no man's land ministering to the dying.  He was serving as a chaplain for the 16th Irish Division of World War I.  At 3pm he got word a soldier of the Dublins was lying wounded in an exposed position.  Father Doyle set out with two other men, crawling to the shell-crater where the soldier lay.  After anointing the man and beginning to drag him to safety, a shell dropped on the group, killing Father Doyle and the soldiers instantly.  He was buried on Frezenberg ridge.  General Hickie wrote to Doyle's father,

I could not say too much about your son. He was loved and reverenced by us all; his gallantry, self-sacrifice, and devotion to duty were all so well-known and recognized. I think that his was the most wonderful character that I have ever known.

Such is the effect our commitment to Christ can have.

back to top