Half century for popular parish priest

Father Doyle with parishioners at the celebration
Father Doyle with parishioners at the celebration

A Golden Jubilee celebration has been held to mark the anniversary of a popular priest’s ordination.

Parishoners of Our Lady and St Michael’s in Alston Lane, Longridge, joined Canon Harry Doyle on Sunday, June 9, to mark 50 years of serving the communities of Longridge and Garstang.

The event consisted of a celebratory mass, a cake cutting, and present-giving by senior altar servers.

Canon Doyle, a native of Bellaghy, Co Derry, Northern Ireland, was ordained for the Diocese of Lancaster on 8 June, 1963, and on July 13, 1963, was sent by the Bishop as a curate to St Mary and St Michael’s in Garstang.

On August 13 of that year, he moved to St Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs in Preston and took over the running of the youth club. Other projects he was involved in included the planning and building of Canterbury Hall.

In 1982 Bishop Pearson decided that Father Doyle should take over as Parish Priest at Our Lady and St Michael’s, taking over from Father Edwards, who had asked to retire on health grounds.

Parishoner John Wilkinson said the move was the beginning of a new chapter.

He said: “After taking time to assess the total state of the parish, including the buildings and grounds, he then let his mind run wild and began to plan out the necessary projects.”

During his 31 years at Alston Lane, Father Doyle has twice organised the redecoration of the church, the extension of the Sanctuary. re-roofing of the church, organising and maintainence of the cemetery, and the extension and resurfacing of the car park.

Father Doyle even took on Lancashire County Council and forced them to resurface Back Lane.

In 2011, Father Doyle was made a Canon, in recognition of his community work.

He said that his greatest pleasure was the ordination to the Priesthood of John Moriarty on July 11 2010, who had been an Altar Server at Our Lady and St Michael’s since 1991.

In addition to his pastoral duties, Father Doyle has continued to pursue a childhood activity of farming.

He has also been made chairman of Churches Together in Longridge.