Edward Healy was born in Castlebridge, Co. Wexford, Ireland, in the diocese of Ferns, on 24 September 1837. He began his novitiate on 24 February 1855 in Sicklinghall on 24 February 1855 where he made his oblation on 25 February 1856. The General Council had admitted him to profession on the preceding 1 February with the note: “This young man was attracted to the congregation by Brother Vernet when he was collecting in Ireland for the construction of our church in Leeds and began his novitiate in Lys Marie on 24 February the following year. While not possessing any special talent or piety, he has good qualities that indicate his suitability for our congregation; by temperament he is gentle and docile, has robust health, is very attached to his vocation and loves regularity…”
He studied philosophy for one year in Sicklinghall, during which he also received tonsure and minor orders and spent some time at home for reasons of health. He went on to do three years of theology (1857-1860) in Montolivet. Father Antoine Mouchette, the scholasticate formator, often mentions him in reports to the general administration. He finds him in general regular and faithful to all his duties. At the beginning of 1859, however, he questions whether he should pass him for ordination: “ What I am afraid of, he writes, is real. This brother is devoid or almost devoid of initiative in the field of piety; he does practically everything out of duty, without enjoyment and without any effort to overcome himself, hence his equivocal behaviour, lack of solidity…”
He was ordained priest by Bishop de Mazenod on 24 June 1860. Bishop de Mazenod proposed sending him to Ceylon but, at the request of Father Joseph Arnoux, he was left in his province of origin. In his short obituary of Father Healy, Father King does not give any details of his placements and ministries. The Mount St. Mary’s, Leeds, centenary book (1957) places him there in the years 1861-1865. The Sicklinghall Codex places him in the Liverpool community in March 1866. He was then a member of the mission band in Inchicore 1866-1868 and was then transferred to Tower Hill, London. In London shortly before his death Father Healy befriended a nascent religious order: the Congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God. A Sister of that congregation writes: “We received great kindness from the Oblate Fathers. Father Edward Healy OMI took the warmest interest in our enterprise, and in many an hour of discouragement and difficulty was at hand to aid and advise…”
On 14 September 1870 Fathers Healy and Ring were on the train returning from Dublin to London when “through the negligence of a pointsman in Tamworth the train, leaving the track, struck the parapet violently and plunged into the river. Father Ring succeeded in swimming to the bank, Father Healy was trapped under water by the weight of the carriages.”
The Foundress of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God, Frances Magdalen Taylor, wrote in the order’s annals: “He died with his rosary in his hands – prayer on his lips – a true servant of Mary in life and in death. His poverty had been so austere that nothing could be found to give to those who longed to have something that had belonged to him. To our community his loss was, and is, a heavy one, but we have since felt that he was praying for us, watching over us, and is no less our true friend in heaven than he was on earth.”
He was buried in the Oblate cemetery in Sicklinghall.
Sources and Bibliography
King John, o.m.i., “Le R. P. Healy”, in Notices nécrologiques OMI, Vol. II, Paris 1869-1874, p. 142-146.
Codex historicus, Lys Marie, Sicklinghall, 1852-1864.
Oblate Writings I, Vol. 3, page 139.
Leonard, Eithne S.M.G., “Frances Magdalen Taylor”, in Oblate Missionary Record, Summer-Autumn, 1999, pp. 22-24.