Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The 1918 Guelph Raid and Marcus Cahir Doherty

Charles J. Doherty's only son, Marcus Cahir (1898-1970), discerned a vocation for the priesthood and entered the Jesuit seminary in Guelph, Ontario on 30 Mar 1918 to begin his studies. Marcus was my 3rd cousin once removed.

Canada entered World War I as a dominion of Great Britain in August 1914, and experienced many casualties. After contentious debate both in the House of Commons and in the country's newspapers, the Military Service Act was passed in 1917 to require that "all male citizens between 20 and 45 subject to military service, if called, for the duration of the war". The Act came into effect on 1 Jan 1918. Young Marcus had previously been exempted from military service in 1917 because of poor health.

Dictionary of Jesuit Biography, pg 86
Clergy were exempt from conscription, but the question arose around whether seminary students of any faith were to be included in the exemption. See right for what happened next, as reported in his biography in the Dictionary of Jesuit Biography (Ministry to English Canada 1842-1987).

Marcus Cahir Doherty SJ
The Guelph Raid was a notorious incident widely reported by both secular and religious media across Canada. Even the newspaper of the Orange Order in Canada wrote about this incident that fanned the flames of sectarian division during wartime.

According to several newspaper accounts of the Guelph Raid that I've read over the years, young Marcus was able to telephone his father in Ottawa when the raid began, alerting the Minister of Justice. Angry sparks flew over the telephone lines between Ottawa and Guelph on 7 Jun 1918 and later, to be sure.

Marcus completed his theological studies and more (philosophy, the classics, spirituality) and was ordained a priest in 1930 in Montreal. He went on to work as an educator and a pastor for 40 years. In the Jesuit biography that I just received this week, I learned that Marcus "was a man easy to love", but one who experienced bouts of depression and nervous disorders intermittently all his life.

I also learned that for the last four years of his life, Marcus was on staff at St Ignatius of Loyola parish in Montreal. My father attended mass there weekly from 1965 until his 2001 death. I can't remember if he ever mentioned that one of his cousins served at his church. Did they talk? I'm sure that they did. I wonder what they talked about.

The never ending story continues....

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