My children spent several days last week fascinated by the Titanic. During the process I learned of a few of the priests on board, specifically a Fr. Thomas Byles. I think everyone should take a moment to read about this priest ...
Fr. Thomas Byles of the Titanic
He interested me because he was a convert and a fan of St. Thomas Aquinas and obviously his courage was incredible. From the link above:
Of the very few passengers willing to brave the cold, Father Byles had been reciting the Breviarium Romanum, fully dressed in his priestly garb, while walking back and forth on the upper deck at the moment the Titanic struck the iceberg.14 He acted bravely in his capacity as a spiritual leader of men. Descending to the third class and calming the people, Father Byles gave them his priestly blessing and began to hear confessions; after which, he began the recitation of the Rosary. He then led the third class passengers up to the boat deck and helped load the lifeboats. He gave words of consolation and encouragement to the woman and children as they got into the boats. As the danger became even more apparent, he went about hearing more confessions and giving absolution. By all accounts, Father Byles was twice offered a seat in a lifeboat but refused. After the last lifeboat was gone, he went to the after end of the boat deck and led the recitation of the Rosary for a large group kneeling around him of those who were not able to find room in the boats. Father Byles also exhorted the people to prepare to meet God. As 2:20 a.m. approached, and the stern rose higher and higher out of the sea, Father Byles led the more than one hundred people kneeling before him in the Act of Contrition and gave them general absolution.In the face of great tragedy Fr. Byles is an encouragement to all of us to keep our eyes on the eternal. As one of the letters stated about him, it might do us well to seek his intercession.