Father James Doyle, who served as pastor of St. Rose Parish in Lima for nearly half of his 64 years as a diocesan priest, died Nov. 18, 2013, at St. Ann’s Home in Rochester after a long illness. He was 89 years old.
Father Doyle grew up in Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Rochester. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester and was ordained June 11, 1949, by Bishop James E. Kearney at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.
He was assistant pastor at St. Mary of the Lake in Watkins Glen from 1949-51; Holy Trinity in Webster in 1951; Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brockport from 1951-57; Holy Rosary in Rochester from 1957-62; Holy Redeemer in Rochester from 1962-65; and St. Ambrose in Rochester from 1965-69.
In 1969 he became a pastor for the first time, at St. Rose in Lima. That turned out to be his only pastorate, as he remained in northeast Livingston County for 30 years until his 1999 retirement.
Tom Crego, a St. Rose parishioner since 1975, noted that Father Doyle inherited a parish that was badly in debt when his pastorate began.
"He managed to almost single-handedly pull things together and get the parishioners’ support," said Crego, who formerly served as St. Rose’s business manager. "He had a wealth of friends and parishioners that thought the world of him. He was a dynamic man and an outstanding priest."
Father Doyle also was well-known for his volunteerism with the Lima Fire Department, for which he served as chaplain and often went to the scenes of calls, working with other firemen and sometimes directing traffic.
"He was a mainstay of that fire department," Crego said. "He made it a point to be at every call he could. He was well-liked and respected."
Father Doyle had previously served in similar fire-department roles while stationed in city parishes; in fact, Father Robert Bradler — a retired diocesan priest who was a close friend — noted that he succeeded Father Doyle as Rochester Fire Department chaplain in 1969 and retains that role today.
In a 2004 interview with the Catholic Courier, Father Doyle said he regarded his fire-department duties as an example of how priests should "practice what they preach" by being "involved on the outside, beyond your church, as well as involved in the community."
Father Doyle moved to Chapel Oaks, a part of St. Ann’s Community, upon his retirement from St. Rose in 1999. That year he commented to the Courier on the special nature of priestly ministry: "A lawyer or a doctor helps people, but a priest reaches into the heart, reaches into the soul."
Father Bradler affirmed Father Doyle’s desire to touch souls, saying that "the people were his first priority. He was very faithful to his priesthood — kind, compassionate."
He is survived by his sisters, Catherine M. Stanton and Esther J. (Edward) Connors; and many nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews.
Father Doyle will lie in state Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, from 5 to 7 p.m. at St. Ann’s Community Chapel, 1500 Portland Ave., Rochester. Evening prayer will follow at 7 p.m. He also will lie in state at St. Ann’s Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, from 9 to 10 a.m., with his funeral Mass to follow at 10 a.m.