Archdiocese of Dublin

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News Release - Thursday, 18 July, 1996

Archbishop launches petition to make Frank Duff a Saint

Public invited to report useful information concerning Beatification of Legion founder

Archbishop Desmond Connell has accepted and signed the official petition to introduce the cause for the Beatification of Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary.

Frank Duff, who died in November 1980, aged 91, was one of the few lay people present at the Second Vatican Council where he received a moving ovation from the world's bishops in recognition of his contribution to the understanding and implementation of the "lay apostolate" - the action of lay Christians to promote the Gospel in the world.

His life and work will now be examined to establish "the truth of his life and virtue". This is the first step in a process which must judge if his life was one of "heroic sanctity". Favourable and unfavourable witnesses will be questioned under oath and his writings will be examined by theologians to check their fidelity to the faith and moral teaching of the Church.

According to Vice-Postulator for his Cause, Fr Bede McGregor, O.P., this process may well be lengthy, since so many people who knew him well are still alive and since he left so many letters and other writings which will need to be examined.

Frank Duff
Frank Duff
Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary in 1921, in the Archdiocese of Dublin. A lay organisation, it is now present in nearly every diocese of the Church and has several million active members, as well as millions more auxiliary members. Edel Quinn, the Legion Envoy to Africa, has already been declared "Venerable", meaning that her life and virtues have been declared "heroic" by Pope John Paul II.

The activities of the Legion of Mary represent "a dynamic vision of the role of the laity in the mission of the Church", according to Fr Bede McGregor. Members of the Legion, hundreds of whom have suffered martyrdom in mission territories such as China, undertake to perform "substantial apostolic work" each week in a spirit of faith. They nurture a life of prayer through the basic practice of the Catholic faith and at weekly meetings where they give an account of the apostolic work undertaken during the week.

The Legion has received the blessing and support of several popes, especially that of Pope John Paul II, who encouraged the Legion in his own Archdiocese of Cracow in Poland, while still Archbishop there. "Yours is an eminently Marian spirituality", the Pope told Italian Legionaries in 1982, "because it bases its methods of spirituality and apostolate on the truth of the intimate participation of the Virgin Mary in the plan of salvation."

Archbishop Desmond Connell, signing the official petition, said it was a truly historic occasion and that he was privileged to introduce the Cause in the Archdiocese. He thanked the Legion of Mary for all the spiritual formation it gave to lay people and for its wide ranging apostolic work in the Archdiocese over 75 years. He also invited members of the faithful to report to the Archdiocese any useful information which may concern the cause.

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