Death of Leeds’ longest-serving parish priest
The longest serving and oldest priest in the Diocese of Leeds died peacefully at his home in the Little Sisters, Leeds on 4th January 2016. Born on 2nd October 1920 and ordained on 4th June 1944 Mgr Bernard Doyle was 95 years old and had served as a priest for over 71 years! Much of his priestly life had been spent in education.
Mgr Bernard was born in Bradford and studied at St Bede’s Grammar School before heading for Ushaw College Durham for his priestly formation. His time at Ushaw College coincided with the War and Mgr Bernard was ordained priest at Leeds Cathedral on 4th June 1944. During the summer months of 1944 he served as Curate in St Francis Morley but at the start of the academic year he headed for Cambridge for further studies as a member of St Edmund’s House.
At the conclusion of his studies in summer 1947 he returned to St. Bede’s Grammar School in Bradford, this time on the staff. He was to remain there until the summer of 1961 when he was appointed the first Headteacher of the newly created St Thomas Aquinas Grammar School in north Leeds. He also moved to St. Urban’s parish in Leeds and assisted in the parish at the weekends. (In later years St Thomas Aquinas and neighbouring St John Bosco School were amalgamated to form Cardinal Heenan High School).
In September 1965 he became Principal of Christ’s College Liverpool, a post he held for twenty one years until he reached state retirement age training many men for service as Catholic teachers. He also became a major influence in Catholic Education nationally during this time.
In 1974 Mgr Bernard was appointed a Prelate of Honour by Pope Paul VI with the title “Monsignor”. Many years later, when Christ’s College, Notre Dame College and the Church of England’s Warrington Training College formed Liverpool Hope University Mgr Bernard was appointed an Honorary Senior Fellow of the new University.
Returning to the diocese in 1986 Mgr Bernard was appointed Parish Priest of St Brigid’s Parish in Churwell, south Leeds remaining their until his retirement in August 2000. He also continued to serve Catholic Education on the Diocesan Schools Commission until 1993.
A great walker, golfer, lover of books, architecture, music, opera and film, he was loved and respected by all who knew him and enjoyed his great company and gift for friendship and his sharp mind which he retained to the end.
Following his retirement at the age of nearly 80 Mgr Bernard lived in Hinsley Court until ill health meant he moved into the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor (where for so many years he had attended and celebrated daily Mass) about a year ago. It was there he died peacefully on Monday, 4th January 2016.
The Following Arrangements have been made for his funeral.
Thursday 14th Jaunary 5.00pm Reception of the body with Evening Prayer, Mount St. Joseph’s(Little Sister’s), Shire Oak Road Headingly, Leeds.
Friday 15th January 12.noon Requiem Mass at Leeds Cathedral celebrated by Bishop Marcus followed by interment in a family grave at Lawnswood Cemetery.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory.