Thomas James Lally entered the Jesuit Novitiate in October 1908, at the age of nineteen. After eight years devoted to teaching, and twelve to his own intellectual and spiritual formation, he was appointed Director of the Martyr’s Shrine in July 1928, at the age of thirty-nine.
For the next twenty-five years until his sudden death at his beloved Shrine in October, the very day after the close of the 1953 season, Father Lally gave his remarkable energy, imagination and initiative to the furtherance of the good cause which he served.
Father Lally’s service to the Martyrs was continuous since he came to the Shrine Church that Father Filion sited and built to overlook Sainte-Marie. He cheerfully maintained the Shrine in smooth-running order for the ever increasing pilgrims. In addition, he was a hound on the trail of publicity for the Shrine through the press, the radio, meetings throughout Ontario and other provinces, and by use of every means of communication. It was also Father Lally who planned and carried through the extensive exploration and excavation of the historical sites. Father Lally had the vision of what should be done; and then, he called in the experts and entrusted the task to them with his complete cooperation. His initiative in uncovering and reconstructing Sainte-Marie, in having Saint-Ignace identified, and in other lesser though very important projects is one of the lasting achievements of Father Lally.