War diary of a Boston College Jesuit

foley ward diaryA new digital publication provides an eyewitness account of war from a Boston College Jesuit priest who served as a chaplain in the North Africa and Pacific theaters during World War II. John P. Foley, S.J., who temporarily left his post as dean of admissions and assistant dean of freshmen and sophomores at BC in 1942 to serve in the U.S. Navy, recorded his observations and experiences in a notebook. He documented horrors and heroism alike while chronicling the life and times of the young men he served, comforted, and buried. His journal has been developed into a digital work, For God and Country: The War Diary of Lieutenant Commander John P. Foley, S.J. Fr. Foley relates encounters and conversations—from the casual to the in-depth—with various officers and enlisted men and gives often vivid descriptions of the places he saw, such as the beautiful yet battle-ravaged Solomon Islands and the ruins of Tokyo. Other entries are of a more personal nature, in which he reflects on larger questions of faith and muses on the joys and sorrows of his job: helping an enlisted man sort out his complicated emotions about being in combat; giving last rites to soldiers for whom he had said Mass earlier that same day; writing letters to families informing them of a loved one’s death. For God and Country, which includes photographs and explanatory footnotes, was edited by retired Boston College Magazine Editor Ben Birnbaum and retired BC senior administrator Joseph P. Duffy, S.J., a devotee of 20th-century Jesuit history who discovered the diary in the Society of Jesus New England Provincial Archive. Read more from BC News

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