Beatification campaign for Titanic priest opens

Posted by Siobhan O'Neill Meluso
Thursday 16, April 2015 | Category:   Mary and the Saints
In 1912, Father Thomas Byles forewent two opportunities
to board a lifeboat when the Titanic hit an iceberg.

Father Thomas Byles, of St. Helen's Church in Essex, England, boarded the Titanic to cross the Atlantic to attend his younger brother's wedding in New York. Sadly, he was one of the 1,500 who died with the "unsinkable ship." According to Catholic News Agency, Byles "forewent two opportunities to board a lifeboat, according to passengers aboard the sinking ocean liner, in order to hear confessions and offer consolation and prayers with those who were trapped aboard." 

More than a century later, Father Graham Smith—a current priest at Father Byles’ former parish—is the promoter for opening the cause of beatification of Byles. “We hope people around the world will pray to him if they are in need, and if a miracle occurs, then beatification and then canonization can go forward,” Father Smith said.

“Father Byles could have been saved, but he would not leave while one [passenger] was left, and the sailor's entreaties were not heeded,” Helen Mary Mocklare, a third-class passenger, recounted. “After I got in the boat, which was the last one to leave, and we were slowly going further away from the ship, I could hear distinctly the voice of the priest and the responses to his prayers.”

The canonization process first requires that the person in question be found to have lived the Christian virtues to a heroic degree. A miracle attributed to the intercession of the individual must then be approved for the title of “Blessed” to be bestowed.

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