By: SNJ Today Staff
CAMDEN, N.J. — Longtime pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in South Camden and vocal advocate of social justice Monsignor Michael J. Doyle will retire effective July 15.
Doyle, 85, was appointed pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in 1974 and was known for his opposition to the Vietnam War.
According to the Diocese of Camden’s newspaper, The Catholic Star Herald: “During his time at Sacred Heart he founded the housing non-profit Heart of Camden; hosted a visit by Saint Teresa of Kolkata (Mother Teresa); and built support for his South Camden parish among Catholics who live in the suburbs.”
The Heart of Camden is a community developer “that uses affordable high-quality housing platforms to rebuild neighborhoods, according to their website.
The organization has built or rehabilitated over 350 homes for Camden’s Waterfront South families. Heart of Camden has also developed an arts and cultural district, as well as collaborated with partners on cleaning and greening the neighborhood by building new play spaces and providing access to the Delaware River waterfront, its website states.
Doyle was once featured in a segment of 60 Minutes and has appeared in a number of documentaries including 2008’s Poet of Poverty narrated by actor Martin Sheen.
Freeholder Jeff Nash said in a statement on behalf of the Camden County Freeholder Board that Doyle was a “champion of the city.”
“For nearly 50 years, Msgr. Michael Doyle has borne that responsibility for the people of Camden; a truly selfless champion of the City who has never wavered in his support for every man, woman, and child that came through his doors,” Nash stated. “Through crisis and tragedy, joy and celebration, Msgr. Doyle has changed countless lives and touched the hearts of thousands.”
Doyle immigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1959 soon after his ordination to the priesthood. Prior to his long term position at Sacred Heart Church in Camden, he had been an educator at Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill and Holy Spirit High School in Absecon.
“In the decades since, while the City changed around him, undergoing incredible transformation, metamorphosis, and renaissance, Msgr. Doyle’s love and compassion has remained an uncompromising constant,” Nash said. “Whether ensuring the continued education of the city’s youth at Sacred Heart School, the possibility of home ownership for low-income families, or the availability of food each week for those who were struggling to make ends meet, Msgr. Doyle has relentlessly strived to better the lives of everyone who calls Walt Whitman’s ‘City Invincible,’ home.”
Nash stated his and the communities appreciation for the work Doyle dedicated to the City of Camden.
“We already owe him a debt of gratitude that could never be repaid,” Nash said. “On behalf of the Freeholder Board, and undoubtedly the entirety of the Camden County community, we thank one of Camden’s greatest public servants as he prepares for the next chapter of his storied life in the City.”
Doyle’s longtime commitment to mending a community seemed poignant in light of current social upheavals.
“In troubled times such as these, we look to those who offer hope, faith, and healing to carry our minds and souls away from the darkness that so easily consumes us,” Nash stated.
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