-Born March 23, 1873
-Ordained May 30, 1896
-Died for the Faith August 11, 1921
A native of Drum, Athlone, in County Roscommon Ireland, Father
Coyle was ordained in Rome on May 30, 1896 when he was only
twenty-three years old. Later that same year, he came to serve
his priestly life in the state of Alabama.
He served faithfully, in what was then the Diocese of Mobile,
Alabama, under Bishop Edward Allen. First, Father Coyle served
eight years in the Mobile area, initially in parish missions,
then at McGill Institute for Boys, first as Instructor and later
as Rector of the school. While in Mobile, Father Coyle became a
Charter member of Mobile Council 666 of the Knights of Columbus.
In 1904 Bishop Allen appointed
Father Coyle as Pastor of St. Paulís Catholic Church in
Birmingham, Alabama, the stateís young but largest city and a
major steel-making center of the United States. The need for
workers in the area mills and mines brought thousands of men to
Birmingham from European countries, a large percentage of whom
Father Coyle served as Pastor of the large St. Paulís
congregation for seventeen years until his tragic death in 1921.
He brought a dynamic and apostolic spirit to the parish,
emphasizing faithful attendance at Sunday Mass and love of the
Eucharist and the Blessed Mother. Among his duties, he served as
Chaplain of Birmingham Council 635 of the Knights of Columbus.
During the last years Father
Coyle served in Birmingham, there existed a regrettable
atmosphere of public anti-Catholic economic and psychological
persecution organized and promoted by the Ku Klux Klan and a
secret anti-catholic political society called the True
Americans. Father Coyle was courageous and unwavering during
this tense and threatening period for Catholics in publicly
defending the Church and what Catholics believe.
On August 11, 1921, Father Coyle was shot and fatally wounded as
he sat in the swing on his rectory front porch by an enraged
minister whose daughterís marriage to a dark-skinned Puerto
Rican Father Coyle had presided over less than two hours before
he was shot. He died forty minutes later in the operating room
at St. Vincentís Hospital. His funeral was one of the largest
ever held in the history of Birmingham. The shooter, who was
also a Klansman, was found not guilty in a trial held two months
later. The trial was a travesty of justice.
Father Coyle is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham, a
ten-foot high Celtic cross marking his resting place. Plans are
underway to re-inter his body near the Cathedral of St. Paul in