Thursday, 28 May 2009

Rev. Fr Thomas Doyle, C.SS.R. (1821 – 1882)

On the 16th July, 1821, the Feast of Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel, Father Doyle was born in the town of Wexford. Called by God to the sacerdotal state, he advanced step by step, until he was ordained a priest, on the 22nd May, 1847. His first labours as a Priest were those of a curate at Tintern in his native county. But his stay there was not for many years. Soon he felt himself called to the religious life and he resolved to seek admission into the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

Father Doyle now left Ireland, and crossing over to Holland entered the Redemptorist Novitiate at Bois-le-Duc, where he was admitted to make his profession on 19th July, 1857, the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul. He was then sent to England, and was attached to the house at Clapham, London. After three or four years we find him in the Limerick Monastery, Ireland; his stay, however, was for but a year or a little more.

In 1862 he was again at Clapham. During the few years that followed he held different offices in the Community, and in February, 1864, he was appointed Vice-Rector of Clapham. In the June of the following year he was confirmed in his office of Rector for three years. He was then changed to Limerick, where he was Director of the Confraternity of the Holy Family, from the April of 1870, to the July of the following year.

Another appointment placed him in the Community of Perth, Scotland. But Father Doyle was to die in his native land, and in June, 1874, he returned to Limerick. Now follows four years of missionary labours in Ireland; they were his last years of work, though four more were to follow, years of illness and preparation for death. The change came suddenly.

In the afternoon of the 23rd of February, 1878, as he was taking part at recreation in the Community room, he was struck down by apoplexy. He at once turned to the Rector, Rev. Father O’Donnell, and with great self-possession said that he wished to offer up his life to God, and that he was ready to welcome whatever was the Divine Will.

This submission to God’s Will supported him through the years of his illness. At last the happy end he had waited for so patiently came on the feast of the glorious virgin martyr, St. Agnes, the 21st of January, 1882. His body rests beneath the high altar of the Monastery Church in Limerick.

Throughout his long illness Father Doyle was nursed and cared for with the most devoted charity, and the greatest self-sacrifice, by Brother Michael.

Father Doyle’s seems to have been one of those lives that are in a more than ordinary way moulded by the thought of death. He feared, even in the early days of his priesthood, the thought of having to meet death perhaps alone, and after he became a Redemptorist he declared that the resolution most close to his heart was to die in the Congregation whatever might happen. But though the thought of death was the one uppermost in his religious life, his character was not at all a desponding or joyless one. On the contrary, cheerfulness of heart, and what may perhaps be best described as a love of quiet fun, are the characteristics by which he is best remembered. †

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