Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 10, 2000
Edmonton-born priest served in Japan
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Scarboro Father Don Boyle, who spent most of the past 40 years doing missionary work in Japan, died March 19 at the age of 68.
The Edmonton-born Boyle was the youngest of five children and educated at Grandin School in the city's downtown core.
"I guess we did spoil him because he was the baby of the family," said his older sister Helen Boyle, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph's, Peterborough. "But he wasn't any worse for it."
Sister Helen remembers her brother as an exuberant youngster. He didn't dwell on the priesthood, which made it somewhat of a surprise for his family when he came back from a year at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and entered the seminary.
"I was the only one who wasn't surprised," Helen said. "I don't know why, but I wasn't surprised. It was something that was right for him.
"He always thought about doing missionary work."
Boyle died at a hospital in Tokyo a week after lapsing into a coma. Helen said the coma was the result of a series of health problems. Boyle's brother Jim of Calgary was at his side.
"My brother (Jim) said it was difficult to see this usually peppy energetic person lying there in a coma," Sister Helen said. "He was always so full of energy."
Boyle is also survived by another sister, Mary Strother of Minneapolis.
Boyle joined the Scarboro Missions to finish his final year of studies before his ordination in 1959. He had taken Spanish in hopes of being assigned to missionary work in British Guinea, but was sent to Japan instead.
"He said the Japanese were not easy to convert," Sister Helen said. "But once they did, they were very faithful, very religious people."
The Japanese language took a lot of getting use to, but Boyle soon became a master at it. Sister Helen was amazed at how attentive the congregation was when her brother gave his sermons.
"Everyone was so focused on him," she said. "I didn't understand it and I said it was too long. He said 'Good, they like it long.'"
From 1968 to 1972, Boyle served in Canada as editor of Scarboro Missions magazine. Shortly before his death, he had been assigned to a parish in Tokyo. Prior to that he spent 15 years in Osaka at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church, the last parish built by Msgr. John Mary Fraser, founder of the Scarboro Mission Society.
"Some areas in Osaka were quite poor," Helen said. "Tokyo was a more progressive city.
"He worked in some areas which were very good, some areas were in the backwoods. But he liked it there because he could really reach out to the people. He liked the people. The people he worked with were very simple people."
Boyles' ashes were placed in the crypt of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Takanawa beside the ashes of fellow Scarboro missionaries Fathers John Bolger and Gerald Kelly.