I ‘ve been doing some research recently on the life of Father Theodore Foley, CP, a native of Springfield, MA, whose cause for canonization is being considered in Rome. A relative of his, Bill Wendt, introduced me to historians at the Springfield Armory and the Springfield Historical Museum last week, who gave me a good overview of that city in the 1900‘s.
Why look at where someone grew up and the family he came from? We’re influenced so much by these things. The gospels included information about Jesus’ early years so that we could know him better.
Interest in Father Theodore is strong in Springfield, a city that is going through hard times now. The local media and the diocese of Springfield have been particularly attentive to the news of his possible canonization.
Here’s an example from a story by Jack Farrell in the local paper from West Springfield from a few week ago:
“Father Foley died in Rome on Oct. 9, 1974 (the same day, incidentally, as Oskar Schindler, the German who saved hundreds of Jews in the Holocaust and who received a papal order of chivalry from Pope Paul VI as a result) from an apparent virus he’d contracted in his missionary travels around the world.
But shortly before his death, he came to West Springfield to visit his aunt and sister Marie, for whom he’d recently found a place to live – Marie Foley called West Springfield home until her death in 2002 at the age of 86. On that visit, the priest told fellow Passionists that he wanted to be buried on the monastery grounds. But in the 1990s, when the monastery closed, the cemetery, including Father Foley’s grave, was moved to Gate of Heaven in Springfield.
Father Foley’s original gravesite had an impact on at least one participant at a 1970s retreat, the late West Springfield resident Daniel Baldyga, who’d been having doubts about his faith. When he began to pray at his grave, the result was life-altering.
“As I stood before Father Foley’s grave and prayed, I experienced a profound religious experience. There’s no way to describe it,” he told the former Union-News in a 1989 interview tied to publications of his novel, “A Sailor Remembers.”
“But any doubt I had experienced was erased, and it’s never returned.”
Mr. Baldyga, who went on to become a Eucharistic minister and a church lector, said at the time that his life became more ordered. “It’s as if it was by design,” he said.
Mr. Baldyga’s experience would likely be of interest to the Passionists and to the Vatican as the study of Father Foley continues and witnesses are called to testify regarding his sanctity.”
Is belief recovered a miracle? I think it is, and we need that kind of miracle today more than ever, don’t we?
Here’s a video on Fr. Theodore’s life, in case you missed it>
Prayer for the Canonization of Father Theodore Foley, C.P.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you called Father Theodore Foley to follow you as a Passionist Priest even to Calvary’s heights.
Through your Immaculate and Sorrowful Mother,
you taught him obedience to your Father’s will and the fulfillment of your Commandment to love God and neighbor.
Let the loving inspiration of your servant move us to live a more profound life of virtue.
We humbly ask that you glorify your servant Father Theodore Foley according to the designs of your holy will.
Through his intercession, grant the request I now present (mention your request). Through Christ our Lord, Amen. (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be to the Father).
Approved + Paul M. Boyle, CP, Bishop Emeritus of Mandeville.
To report favors received, please contact:
Rev. Fr. Vice Postulator, CP
Immaculate Conception Monastery
86-45 Edgerton Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11432