FR. JAMES E.
COYLE COMMEMORATION DAY
The Psalmist says:Weeping may
tarry for the night but joy comes in the morning.I believe
that after years of weeping, sadness and darkness regarding
the murder of Fr. James E. Coyle, almost 83 years ago, that
today is a day of joy and light! My only regret is that I am
not able to celebrate this commemorative day with you.
I blush at the
privilege of being associated with such a holy, righteous and
courageous man as Fr. Coyle. It is also wonderful to be lifting
up his life and memory with all of the participants today. In
particular, I want to recognize:
Donohoe, Rector of St. Paul's Cathedral, who represents our
beloved Bishop David, and the diocesan family. Mr. John
Wright, Jr., who has led me and many others to better
appreciate the life and witness of Fr. Coyle.
Mr. Lee Fisher,
who represents all that is good in John Carroll Catholic High
School, and Mr. Lee Bruno, representing the Bruno
family, renowned for their faith and generosity to the Church,
community, and this outstanding Catholic school.
I can vaguely recall
hearing the story of Fr. Coyle's courageous life and tragic
death when I arrived in Birmingham some 24 years ago to begin my
ministry in the Episcopal Church. Approximately two years ago,
this vague recollection of Father's earthly life became
a vividencounter with his current life in the Lord.
I had been struggling
for over a year, considering a possible return to the church of
my infancy-The Roman Catholic Church-when I came across a Fr.
Coyle Memorial Card at a local Catholic bookstore. I felt
compelled to immediately locate and pray at Fr. Coyle's memorial
in Elmwood Cemetery. Within minutes, I humbly stood before the
beautifully strong Celtic cross that honors this holy man and
marks his resting place. I prayerfully introduced myself, prayed
and gave thanks for his life, and asked his intercession that I
might know if I should return to the Catholic Church. I will
save the precious details for another time, but I will bear
witness that my life was altered from that encounter onward.
Shortly thereafter, I laid down my priestly garments and
ministry upon the altar of an Episcopal Church and journeyed
home to the church of my birth and baptism-the Catholic Church.
Over the past several
months, I have spent time in the living memory of Fr. Coyle with
Fr. Donohoe and John Wright. These reflective and prayerful
gatherings led to the genesis of The Father James E. Coyle
Memorial Project. It is our hope that the sharing of the life
and death of this holy man may promote greater
understanding,reconciliation and peace among all
of God's children. The Project is an ongoing and cooperative
work among many people, including you. In the coming days we
will build the structure of the Project upon the foundation of
Fr. Coyle's sacrificial life, his emphasis upon the dignity of
every human being, and his call upon others to sacrifice on
behalf of the Faith. His closing hand-written entry in the
Pulpit Announcements of August 7, 1921, the final Sunday before
his murder on Thursday, August 11, 1921, typifies the soul of
this man, his call upon others, and the spirit with which this
Project is undertaken. His final entry:
Give, give till it hurts- then and only then is there
trust that by God's grace the Coyle Project may spawn many
valuable undertakings such as:
The Coyle Library
FatherCoyle.org interactive website.
- The Fr. Coyle
- The re-publishing of
Fr. Coyle related writings and the publishing. of
- The Father Coyle
And whatever else our Lord
desires for us to do…
Today offers an
important glimpse of the gracious gifts the Lord will reveal to
many, not least of whom are the precious students, faculty and
staff of John Carroll Catholic High School and those who visit
here. As this beautiful portrait is unveiled, I am reminded of
the words of Saint Nicholas of Cusa who said: In every
face is the Face of all faces, veiled and in a riddle.
May all who view this portrait of this holy man behold the Face
of God. May the lifting of this veil today bear fruit in the
conversion of souls to: Christ, His Church and the love of all
humanity. We may be assured that the holy life and death of Fr.
James E. Coyle will continue to bear much fruit, for his Savior
amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground
and dies it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it
produces much fruit
Member of The Father James E. Coyle Memorial Project