Fr. Doyle seeks to improve the lives of many
By Sandy Blond
A self-proclaimed “baby priest” and proudly a do-gooder from a long line of do-gooders, Fr. Kevin Doyle is committed to improving the lives of all people in this part of the heartland using 21st century technology.
“Although I ignored the call for many years, God had a way of reminding me,” he said, “sometimes in most unconventional ways.”
And although sometimes unfulfilling, a previous career as an accountant allowed him the contacts that is making it all possible.
He is proudly Irish in heritage. His great-grandparents Hugh and Margaret Brady farmed in Ireland.
The plight of the Irish was hard, he said. Irish Catholics were little more than serfs of the land owned by nobility and weren’t allowed to own property. Although they grew many types of crops, one of the only crops they were allowed to keep were potatoes and that became a staple of their diet. There was no crop rotation in those days and when the potato crops failed that caused a series of potato blights and famines.
Immigrating to America with three brothers and their mom in thr 1880s, they ultimately settled in New Albin, Iowa, area. Hearing of the unlimited vistas of Dakota territory, the Brady clan homesteaded in Kimball.
“Their sod house was barely built when they shouldered with others to build St. Margaret’s Catholic Church.”
His grandfather, James Brady, worked in the oilfields to help pay off the debt for the land just before the government forgave all debts for other homesteaders.
Parents Winifred (Brady) and Homer Doyle became small business owners in Denver, Colo., raising elder brother Michael and Kevin. When he returned from the Korean Conflict, Homer went to college on the G.I. Bill and became an accountant.
“I was only five years of age and just learning the alphabet, when I learned the business firsthand as a file clerk,” he said.
Following in his dad’s footsteps, Kevin was assigned to represent non-profit organizations, which he learned to love.
“Think, hypothetically, little old ladies from a quilting club with dues invested in their 501c charities,” he said, “but in trouble with the IRS and with a only a shoebox full of receipts to back them up.”
He said he kept running into Bishop Robert Carlson, the Bishop of the Diocese of Sioux Falls
“That,” he said, “changed my life.”
He received his masters in theology from the Holy Apostle Seminary just outside of Hartford, Conn.
“It has a preponderance of oldies like me,” he said, “with our mascot being a bunch of dinosaur bones of us holy fossils.”
After he was ordained, he served as associate pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic in Pierre before being reassigned as pastor to St. Anthony’s Catholic Church and St. John the Baptist in Onaka two years ago by Bishop Swain of the Diocese of Sioux Falls.
“The problem that the Catholic Church faces is fewer individuals are choosing to enter religious life compounded by the fact more and more towns are declining in population as an increasingly large number of families are moving to larger cities for employment opportunities,” he said. “Smaller churches are closing. Our parish radius is projected to increase to 100 miles. That’s a whole lot of traveling.”
Protestant evangelists have been using television for years and Mother Angelica is doing it today with EWTN from Irondale, Ala.
The first step was calling upon an old contact from his accounting days, Gene Van de Sande, who had spent his entire career as an engineer.
“He’s absolutely brilliant,” Fr. Doyle said, “although I don’t always understand what he’s talking about! Those engineers speak a language all their own!”
The concept suddenly took on a life of its own. Under his good friend’s guidance, he applied for a $75,000 grant/loan and received a low power license to transmit local access television, Channel 17, which will be broadcast from the basement of the church.
He’s hoping to broadcast church services of several denominations, weather, old movies.
“The possibilities are endless,” he said.
With Irish eyes smiling, his enthusiasm is absolutely contagious.
“But, we still needed a tower,” he said. “We’ve got a tower. Royce Hackl, a trustee of the Five County Television District, which had just completed the conversion of their equipment from analog to digital, as per FCC requirements,” he said. “I believe God makes straight lines where only curved lines exist. Suddenly it all became ‘do-able.”
The nonprofit network is Concerned Parents for Education out of Denver.
The absolute bonus to this entire project, he said, is that the young people of the Five County area will be recruited to participate as aspiring engineers, producers and directors. That is a real self-esteem booster.
It may not be what his great-grandfather had in mind when he helped build St. Margaret’s so many years before, but it works.
“We’ve got to embrace technology,” he said. “We can’t go back to ‘watching the radio’ like our grandparents did.”