Pastoral Notes 23rd March 2014

In this Lent season, as we prepare to remember Holy Week and the Cross, we might remember Army Chaplains who risked their lives on the battlefields to bring prayer and comfort to dying soldiers. One priest of our diocese showed me a crucifix belonging to an ancestor, a chaplain who had taken it with him onto the field of combat. The CTS have now published a booklet on the life of Fr Willie Doyle, an Irish Jesuit, who died aged 44 on the battlefield at Passchendale in 1917, serving the soldiers under his care. He was sent to school at age 11 with the Rosminian Fathers at Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire. From there he followed a brother into training as a Jesuit priest, including a time teaching at a school in County Kildare, with great success. But in 1915 he went to France as chaplain to the Royal Irish Fusiliers where he walked and lived with the troops.