Former parish priest Father Owen Doyle held a unique ministry as the Sandhurst diocese’s only ordained priest who is also the father of nine children. The diocese invited Fr Owen to write this short reflection.
- The Catholic Weekly
HAVING recently retired I’ve been asked to do an article about being a priest with a family (six boys and three girls – however, one boy died of an accident when three years of age), so I will start back a few years.
I was a daily Mass-goer and my wife died in 1982, not that the two things were dependent on one another. One weekend after she died, I was visiting my sister and her husband at Murchison and the priest, Fr Michael Grace, mentioned in his homily that there was a shortage of priests; where there used to be three, now there were two and so on.
I thought, maybe I could help out, could say Mass at the convent while the “real” priests went about their business. That night, back in Melbourne, I was reading the Advocate, the Catholic paper at the time, and there was an article about a widower who had been ordained.
I was teaching in a secondary school at the time. I went to our parish priest, Fr Kierce, and mentioned my thoughts. He told me to come back in three months if I still had the same idea. I knew that our assistant priest, the late Fr Roger Ryan, had been to St Paul’s Seminary for late vocations in Sydney.
Fr Kierce mentioned that I would need to be accepted by a bishop or a religious order. I felt that Melbourne was too big for me at my age, and settled for Sandhurst. It so happened that Fr Kierce was friendly with the bishop, the late Bishop Noel Daly, who accepted me as a seminarian.
On the day that I retired from teaching I received the letter that I had been accepted at St Paul’s. I told my family on Christmas Day, 1984.