May 30, 2024 at 1:56 p.m.

LEGACY REMEMBERED

Late Father Kenneth J. Doyle honored with street dedication in Albany
Mary Ellen Sochor, sister of Father Kenneth Doyle, left, and her niece Paula Sochor, center, hold replicas of the new street sign as they pose with Father Bob Longobucco and  Father Doyle’s portrait during the event to honor him on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at Mater Christi Parish in Albany, N.Y.  Cindy Schultz for The Evangelist
Mary Ellen Sochor, sister of Father Kenneth Doyle, left, and her niece Paula Sochor, center, hold replicas of the new street sign as they pose with Father Bob Longobucco and Father Doyle’s portrait during the event to honor him on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at Mater Christi Parish in Albany, N.Y. Cindy Schultz for The Evangelist (Courtesy photo of CINDY SCHULTZ)

By Emily Benson | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

On the corner of Hurst Avenue and Collins Place, the sound of bagpipes filled the air. 

The City of Albany Pipe Band leads Mater Christi School students to the event to rename a street in honor of Father Kenneth Doyle on May 28 at Mater Christi Parish in Albany. (Cindy Schultz photo for The Evangelist)


Dozens gathered outside Mater Christi Parish and School in Albany to watch the procession of students and pipers make their way toward the crowd — many current or past parishioners of Mater Christi, others family, friends or local politicians — all of whom came to honor the life of the late Father Kenneth J. Doyle in a street dedication in his name. 


The ceremony, held on Tuesday, May 28, at 11 a.m., celebrated the life of Albany’s beloved priest, who served at Mater Christi Church for over 20 years. Fitting to his legacy of kindness, the dedication drew a large crowd and included speeches from Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, Father Dan Quinn, current pastor of Mater Christi, U.S. Representative Paul Tonko, and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. 

Mary Ellen Sochor, sister of Father Kenneth Doyle (l.), and her niece Paula Sochor (c.) hold replicas of the new street sign as they pose with Father Bob Longobucco and Father Doyle’s portrait during the event to honor him on May 28 at Mater Christi Parish in Albany. (Cindy Schultz photo for The Evangelist)


“Father Ken was probably one of the kindest men I ever knew,” said Bishop Scharfenberger. “And he did it in such a way that he made you feel like he was your best friend from the moment you first met him. … He was a wonderful father to so many people, in the sense that we understand true fatherhood to be about: it’s about being a good coach, a good guide, a good example, but most of all, a loving presence, and we feel that presence.”


Father Doyle “was somebody who could make someone feel like they were the only person in the room, and what they were saying was so important to him, and he wanted to ensure he could help them out in any way he could,” said Sheehan. “He was a remarkable person, and I know I’m a better person for having known him. … We must not forget the lessons that we learned from Father Doyle.”

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger speaks during the event to rename a street in honor of Father Kenneth Doyle, seen in the portrait, as Father Daniel Quinn stands by on May 28 at Mater Christi Parish in Albany. (Cindy Schultz photo for The Evangelist)

Before the unveiling, Sheehan announced a proclamation declaring May 28 as “Rev. Kenneth J. Doyle Day” in the city of Albany: “I look forward to coming here and being reminded of someone who truly made a difference in this community,” she said.


Father Doyle, who died at the age of 82 in October 2022, donned many hats in his years as a priest. He earned a law degree at Albany Law School (1978) and acted as Rome’s Bureau Chief of the National Catholic News Service (1981-84.) He was a lobbyist for the New York State Catholic Conference, Director of Media Relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Chancellor of Public Information for the Albany Diocese, and assistant editor for The Evangelist, (1967-81) which ran his well-followed “Question Box” column for Catholic News Service that he wrote in retirement. 


Mary Ellen Sochor, sister of Father Kenneth Doyle, reacts to a story about her brother during the event to rename a street in his honor. (Cindy Schultz photo for The Evangelist)


Above all his accolades, it was Father Doyle’s kindness as a priest and friend to many in the Albany area that was most notable. For 24 years (1992-2016), Father Doyle served as pastor of St. Catherine of Siena, which later became Mater Christi Church in Albany. 


On the day of his street naming, decorated under a soft sea of gray clouds, families and friends took turns recalling fond memories of their pastor: How Father Doyle was an avid Notre Dame fan and made an effort to attend a game each season. He extended his love of horse racing to his parish staff at Mater Christi, and one day each summer, treated the crew to a day at the races in Saratoga. 


He married couples who had babies he later baptized. He made an effort to learn the name of every parishioner at Mater Christi and greeted them directly when they came up the line for communion.

Mary Ellen Sochor, sister of Father Kenneth Doyle receives a proclamation from Albany County Legislators Gary Domalewicz (l.) and Andrew Joyce during the event to rename a street in Father Doyle’s honor on May 28 at Mater Christi Parish in Albany. (Cindy Schultz photo for The Evangelist)


He gave succinct five-minute homilies and wasn’t afraid to pocket a few cookies to-go from parish events. He was kind and approachable; full of gentle wisdom and an open heart. It was a dedication thoroughly deserved, as so many attendees agreed. 


“He was wonderful, he was just a love of a man,” said Fran Franke, a parishioner at Mater Christi. “He’s just got such a great history, he was always there for the people.”


“He was there when my parents died, and they weren’t even from this parish,” said Mary Cronin-Emsing, parishioner. “He was that type of person.”


Added the Bishop: Father Doyle “remains with us and among us. One of the reasons we are all here is because we knew him, and we know him … I thank God for all the days I had, although they were too short. And I’m so happy we’re doing something to remember him.”










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