In the early hours of this day, Rev. James Doudican received the answer to prayer he has waited patiently to hear, the voice of the Good Shepherd calling him home. Fr. Doudican has been fighting cancer for a number of years, and in June he entered a hospice care facility in Cheyenne.
He did so well at hospice, that they felt he should no longer be there. So, he entered an assisted living facility for a brief time, until it became very apparent a few weeks ago that hospice care would be required for his remaining days.
On his 95th birthday, he was honored on these pages, and you can read more about him here. His eyes were perhaps one of his more remarkable physical features. Sadly, those Irish eyes will twinkle no longer upon the face of this earth, but they now see clearly and shine more brightly as they gaze upon the face of the Lord.
Father was born in Ireland in 1917. He studied at St. Mary’s College in Galway and St. Peter’s in Wexford. He was ordained a priest June 6, 1948 and came to Cheyenne in December of the same year. He had quite a priestly legacy of generous and faithful service to the people of this Diocese, and is remembered by many and loved by all. From 1972 until his retirement in 1992, he served as a chaplain at St. Vincent De Paul hospital in Cheyenne. Even after retirement, he served as a chaplain at the local V.A hospital until his 95th birthday.
Even in retirement, he daily celebrated Mass at Holy Trinity parish, led prayers regularly for Eucharistic Adoration, heard confessions, and prayed more rosaries than any of us can possibly imagine. I remember with fondness the day he asked me to be relieved of his obligation to pray the Liturgy of the Hours due to diminishing eye sight. He promised that he would more than make up for those prayers with rosaries. I have every reason to believe he was quite faithful to that promise, and that this local church will be a bit impoverished from the lack of his prayers for us. But, our faith in the communion of saints also tells us that we will still benefit from his powerful intercession from a new and eternal place.
Over the last few days, I stopped by his room to see him and pray with him. His wit remained fully in tact up until the final 24 hours. Late Tuesday night when I stopped by, he was very alert and quite chatty, and we shared a few jokes and a few prayers. I asked him to do me a favor. He said, “What would that be, bishop?” I said: “When you meet Jesus, please put in a good word for me.” He quipped: “What if you see him before I do?” Before I parted, I gave him a blessing, and in return, received a blessing from him.
I knew when I stopped in on him around 3:30 yesterday afternoon, his final rest and reward were close at hand. He lived only nine more hours. I was privileged this morning to be called to his bed side to pray the prayers of the dead over his body along with two very faithful friends who have cared so well for him over these past years. Those are sacred moments.
One of the most touching gifts Fr. Doudican received in these final days, was that in his remaining days, nearly 200 pastoral leaders were gathered here in Cheyenne for our annual September Institute. This allowed for a steady stream of visitors over his last days, many of them his brother priests and deacons. I’m sure this brought him great delight.
There will be a prayer vigil for Fr. Doudican at Holy Trinity in Cheyenne on Monday evening at 7:00. The Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated on Tuesday morning at Holy Trinity at 10:00 with burial in the priest circle following.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon Him.
May he rest in peace.