Friends, meet Father Coyle. Father James Edwin Coyle was born on March 23, 1873 -Ordained May 30, 1896 – and died for the Faith on August 11, 1921. As you read this article from History of Father Coyle, you will later find out why I believe he is a defender of marriage within America. Let’s get started.
“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 (terrible number I know) of the Knights of Columbus.
In 1904 Bishop Allen appointed Father Coyle as Pastor of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Birmingham, Alabama, the state’s 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 were Catholic.
Father Coyle served as Pastor of the large St. Paul’s 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 daughter’s 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. Vincent’s 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 downtown Birmingham.”
As we can see not only is marriage challenged within our times, it was also challenged in the past even here in the United States when it came to marrying those of the opposite race and ethnic groups. Even though the hate group, the Ku Klux Klan, persecuted this priest because he upheld the true faith, he continued to do what he was commanded to do out of obedience to his vocation, that is to bless, absolve, direct, marry, and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In these dark times in where the vocation of marriage is challenged, let us take up this beloved priest’s example and protect the sanctity of marriage, regardless if it be the challenge from homosexuals, adulterers who support divorce & remarriage, or even those who support racist positions. God Bless.