[dropcap type=”4″]P[/dropcap]ope Francis declared that a Year of Consecrated Life be celebrated throughout the world, a time dedicated to the faithful whose vows of poverty, chastity and obedience serve to illuminate heaven on earth. To help mark this occasion, The Catholic Sun is featuring each month members of religious communities who serve the Diocese of Phoenix.
Religious community: Congregation of Holy Cross
Community charisms: Educators in the faith, known for the gift of hospitality
Community founding: March 1, 1837 by Blessed Basil Moreau in a small village outside Le Mans, France
Current role: Director of André House
When he first heard God’s call: Sixth grade
Final vows: Aug. 31, 1997
Holy Cross Father Tom Doyle grew up in a small town in Washington, the son of a country doctor and nurse in a family where priests were often welcome guests. Accompanying his father on house calls, he said he saw healing take place. Fr. Doyle said themes of healing and reconciliation run deeply through his vocation story.
The Catholic Sun: When did you first realize God was calling you to religious life?
Fr. Tom Doyle: My mother gave me this scroll that said, ‘What you are is God’s gift to you; what you make of yourself is your gift to God.’ I remember even as a sixth-grader that statement gave me chills. It occurred to me for the first time then that God had given me so much … and that if these were gifts that came from God, I had a responsibility to return them and give them back. That was the first time I ever connected the faith that I had, the blessings God had given to me and a sense that I’m invited to do something particular for God with those gifts.
What do you find fulfilling about your work at André House?
Fr. Doyle: Some people think the most important ministry we do is the 200,000 meals we provide each year. I think equally as important is that we invite 10,000 volunteers per year to come down here… I get the privilege of working every day with the poor and those who are without homes… We could pay a staff to do this stuff, but the most important thing we do in building community is taking people who think they are very different from the people we serve [and] putting them in contact in the same space together.
What has been the most fulfilling about your life as a Holy Cross Father?
Fr. Doyle: The motto of the congregation is, ‘The Cross is our only Hope.’ One of the things about bearing witness to the cross is not fixing [people’s] problems, not giving them a pious platitude that ‘God doesn’t give you anything more than you can handle’ or ‘Everything happens for a reason.’… Sometimes it is just being with a person. The most valuable sense that I have is the ability to hear and a soft heart. So when somebody shares their cross or shares their burden and I don’t try to take it away from them, they recognize that they don’t have to bear it alone and that it’s not as heavy as they thought.