1. Penzance (1843-1851)
  2. Ashbourne (1848-1851)

Born at Newtown Barry, county Wexford, England, October 17, 1814
Taking of the habit at Marseilles, February 16, 1837
Oblation at Marseilles, February 17, 1838 (no. 74)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, May 2, 1841
Expelled from the Congregation in 1852
Second novitiate at Belmont House in 1892-1893
Oblation at Belmont House, September 8, 1893
Died at Belcamp Hall, July 27, 1894.

William Joseph Daly was born at NewtownBarry (diocese of Ferns), October 17, 1814. In 1835, he came into contact with the Oblates through Abbé M. O’Reilly who was returning from Rome and, when he was passing through Marseilles, had met Bishop de Mazenod. William travelled to Marseilles and began his novitiate February 16, 1837 under the direction of Father Casimir Aubert, the novice master who spoke fluent English. After his oblation on February 17, 1838, he attended theology classes with the scholastic brothers at the major seminary of Marseilles and was ordained to the priesthood on May 2, 1841.

During the month of May, a few weeks before the decision to accept the missions in Canada, an opportunity presented itself to send Father Daly to England in order to obtain firsthand information about the possibility of a foundation there. During the first months of his stay, Father Daly preached in a few churches of London and in the seminary of Oscott near Birmingham; then, he went to Ireland where he met the bishops gathered for a meeting in Maynooth. He obtained permission to do vocational recruiting and at the end of the 1841 sent seven postulants entrusted to Father Aubert’s care at Notre-Dame de l’Osier. He then led everyone to hope that there would be no problem in making a foundation.

In the summer of 1842, Bishop de Mazenod sent Father Aubert to Ireland. Father Aubert was thinking of opening a formation house there, but was soon disillusioned on that score. The bishops would not permit it. Nevertheless, he found a teaching position at St. Mary’s College of Youghal, an institution destined to supply personnel for the missions.

Penzance (1843-1851)
At the end of 1842, Father Daly, at Dublin at the time, met Abbé William Young who had founded in the city of Penzance at the southeastern extremity of England a mission for Irish immigrants. Abbé Young was collecting funds to finish a church that was under construction. He was inclined to entrust this mission to the Oblates. When he was apprised of the situation, Father Aubert met with Abbé Young and then went to visit Bishop Baines, vicar apostolic for the western district, which was attached to Penzance. He obtained permission to establish the Oblates there and the install Father Daly there; Father Daly had been without a fixed abode for more than a year.

In January of 1843, Father Daly arrived at Penzance accompanied by a postulant. With the coming of spring Father Aubert joined them accompanied by a few young people and, in July, he left for Marseilles with the postulants in order to have them begin their novitiate and for him to participate in the General Chapter. Left alone with a certain Abbé Power, Father Daly was very active, finishing the construction of the church of the Immaculate Conception, obtaining a house to live in, opening a school, exercising a fruitful ministry among the Catholics and Protestants of Penzance, Helton, St. Just, etc. Father Aubert made a canonical visit in September of 1846 and set up a regular community with Father Daly as superior, Father E. Bradshaw, scholastic brother J. Naughten and lay brother Dowling.

Ashbourne (1848-1851)
Father Daly’s pastoral activity at Penzance was not enough for him. He learned that there was a property for sale at Ashbourne near Derby at the centre of England and that Bishop Ullathorne was inviting the Oblates to exercise their apostolate in this region. Without taking the time to consult with Bishop de Mazenod or Father Aubert, in 1848, he bought the house for 220,000 francs and gave as security titles to the property at Penzance or which he is the titular owner in the name of the Congregation.

How could such a sum be paid when the Congregation already was labouring under debt and could hardly count on help from the Propagation of the Faith whose revenue was drying up because of the 1848 revolution? When he heard this news, Bishop de Mazenod immediately sent Father Charles Bellon to England as superior of the Oblates there, but he already knew that he would have to let go of the house at Ashbourne and lose the property at Penzance.

At the General Council session of May 24, 1851 Father Daly’s situation was examined. A similar case was described in the Rule as being grounds for expulsion. It was learned that the seller of the “Ashbourne castle” was going to auction off the property at Penzance “to obtain at least a part of the agreed upon 220,000 francs payment, since Father Daly is unable to pay.” There was hesitation as to expelling him because his intentions were good. He wanted to establish a refuge for the French Oblates in case the revolution of 1848 took on “an even more alarming character.” His actions “did not arise from ill will, but for an error that the inflamed imagination of Father Daly can explain.” Moreover, it was noted that previous to and after this transaction, Father Daly “worked unselfishly for the society, manifesting for the society a sincere attachment.” Consequently, the decision was taken to simply demand that he immediately leave England. He would be recalled to France or sent either to the United States or to Natal with Bishop Allard.

During the summer of 1851, Fathers Tempier and Aubert travelled to England. Bishop de Mazenod wrote to Father Aubert: “If it is true that upon leaving England Father Daly would be out of danger and that he should want to stay on in England at the risk of putting himself and our members in jeopardy, he should blame no one but himself if we adopt severe measures. He is the one who is compelling us to do it.” It really seems that Father Daly refused to leave. April 8, 1853, the Founder communicated to Father Semeria that Father Daly had been “dismissed.”

Subsequently, Abbé Daly ministered in a parish in Manchester, then in the diocese of Salford and finally from 1885 to 1892 he served as chaplain of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Newton Heath.

In 1892, he asked to be readmitted to the Congregation. He entered the novitiate at Belmont House near Dublin at the beginning of the summer of 1892 and pronounced his vows on September 8, 1893. He was then appointed spiritual director of the minor seminarians at Belcamp Hall, but on July 13, 1894 he suffered a stroke. He lived on for fifteen days during which he edified the community by his piety and his resignation. He died peacefully on July 27, 1894.

Yvon Beaudoin
and Michael Hughes, o.m.i.