Tuesday 3 July 2018

Fr Willie Doyle & World War I A Chaplain's Story - K.V. Turley

Fr Willie Doyle & World War I:
A Chaplain's Story
K.V. Turley
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860829062
eISBN 9781784694791


I started reading books about Catholic Military chaplains a few years ago, it started with a recommendation from a friend about Emil Kapaun, and has been a growing area of personal interest. But it has become more than just a passing interest, my son who is 10 has been saying for over three years now that he will be a priest when he grows up, after walking while I was watching a documentary on Vincent Capodanno he is now insistent that for over a year now he is saying he will be a military chaplain. And now we are reading books about chaplains together. And this book was an excellent little volume for us to read together.

The chapters in this volume are:

The Child
The Scholar
The Novice
The Jesuit
The Priest
The Hunter of Souls
The Penitent
The Military Chaplain
The Front
The Gas Attack
The Somme
The Casualty

With each book I read about military chaplains I am amazed by their service, courage and sacrifice. No matter the conflict, no matter the situation they are men who heeded the call to the priesthood, and the call to serve country. And Father Willie Doyle is an exemplary example of that. This book begins with words from Father Doyle himself, written in a letter home just 2 days before he died. Writing to his father he states:

"I have told you all my escapes, dearest Father, because I think what I have written will give you the same confidence which I feel, that my old armchair up in Heaven is not ready yet, and I do not want you to be uneasy about me. I am all the better for these couple of days' rest, and am quite on my fighting legs again. Leave will be possible very shortly, I think, so I shall only say au revoir in view of an early meeting. Heaps of love to every dear one. As ever, dearest Father, your loving son, Willie. 14/8/17."
Father Doyle was a man of service. He rushed into situations other were rushing away from. He rushed in to pull to safety those he could, to give the anointing of the sick, or last rights. Farther Doyle was one of many who was lost at the battle of Passchendaele. As a Canadian, Passchendaele, is seared in our national conscience.  In the prologue it is stated:
"Yet, this seeming annihilation of just another military chaplain stands contradicted by his unexpected return to the consciousness of our times. It is as though, in spite of the decades that have since passed, his life's witness has once more arisen from those now still battlefields. And in so doing, it has become a testament, in stark contrast, even rebuke, to this age of ease and infidelity. The 'war' today may no longer be of worldly empires, but his faithful witness in the spiritual battle that we, too, still face is like a long-forgotten reveille sounding anew its uncompromising call for nothing less than the martyrdom of self: sanctity."
And maybe that speaks to my own attraction to stories of heroic men of the cloth. For we can look at their heroism, such as Father Doyle's, and be challenged to live heroically in our day to day life. Father Doyle lived a life of sanctity; he sought God in all that he did. And his example to us is that we need to seek sanctity in our work, our homes, our play. And even though our circumstances are not nearly as dire as trench warfare during World War I. The spiritual reality is just as critical.

This book follows Father Doyle's life from his birth on March 3rd 1873 to his death in battle. Some of the incidents in this book are not easy to read about, walking through a trench filled with corpses, digging men out of collapsed fox holes while under bombardment, and more. But it is a book that will encourage, challenge and motivate.

General Hickie write to Father Doyle's family sated:

"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."
And that testament is captured in this book. Another incredible book from the Catholic Truth Society!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by K.V. Turley:

Reviews of other books about Military Chaplains:
The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier and Korean War Hero - Roy Wenzl and Travis Heying
A Shepherd in Combat Boots: Chaplain Emil Kapaun of the 1st Cavalry Division - William Maher
The Grunt Padre: Father Vincent Robert Capodanno Vietnam 1966-1967 - Daniel L. Mode
The Priest Barracks Dachau 1938-1945 - Guillaume Zeller
Blessings from the Battlefield - Edited by Thomas R. O'Brien

Heroic Catholic Chaplains: Stories of the Brave and Holy Men Who Dodged Bullets While Saving Souls
Fr Willie Doyle & World War I: A Chaplain's Story - K.V. Turley
Armed with Faith The Life of Father Vincent R. Capodanno, MM - Stephen M. Digiovanni

For all reviews and articles about Military Chaplains click here.

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