Celebrating the Life of Br. Jim Irenaeus Doyle


Brother James (Irenaeus) Lawrence Doyle, known simply as Br. Jim. He was born in Sillagh House, Naas, County Kildare, Ireland on Nov. 10, 1922. He was the son of Joseph Doyle and Mary Stapleton. He entered the postulancy program for the Capuchins on June 28, 1954 and was received as a novice in the class of 1955-56 at Kilkenny, Ireland. He made his Solemn Profession on January 2, 1959. His first assignment was to the Rochestown Monastery in Cork, Ireland as a farm worker. On January 12, 1962 he came to the United States and was assigned to Wilmington, DE (This was the last year that our novitiate house was in Wilmington).

In one of his first days living in America, he decided to prepare a special “American” meal for the brothers. To the surprise (and shock) of the elder friars and to the joy of the novices he served tomato soup and popcorn…some say with syrup, but that was the meal. Br. Jim was not a fancy cook. He liked hot oatmeal for breakfast, soup for lunch and meat and potatoes for dinner.

Br. Jim worked as a farmer, groundskeeper and cook and in 1963 was part of the first community established at San Lorenzo Seminary in Santa Inez, CA. It was here that all his skills came into play. He worked hard: the long hours in the kitchen, and longer hours outdoors mowing lawns, trimming trees and bushes, planting a small farm and taking care of the animals, putting in sprinkler systems, building and repairing roads and making the grounds beautiful. He made the desert bloom. He worked day in and day out in a spirit of joy and peace. In many ways Br. Jim seemed to be fearless and tireless in his work.

He was certainly no stranger to the chapel and was just as intent in prayer as in work or play. He rarely, if ever, would miss the hours of prayer.

Br Jim was also quite a sportsman (fierce competitor might be a better term). He liked golf, tennis, volleyball and soccer…he played to win…even the more sedate games of cards, cribbage and chess.

As San Lorenzo was the novitiate from 1963, Br Jim was a wonderful example of a Capuchin Friar to the young men in training to be Capuchins. Br Jim was at San Lorenzo for three terms: 1963-1971; 1976-1988; and 2007-2011.

From 1971 to 1976 he worked at St Francis HS in La Canada Flintridge in doing general maintenance for the school and some cooking for the friars.

Br. Jim was always a missionary in the spirit of St Francis. He was a missionary to the USA from Ireland and in 1988 he went to our first Provincial mission site in Yécora, Sonora, Mexico and in 1999 he was at the novitiate San Fidel in Tres Ojitos, Chihuahua, Mexico doing the work he had done all his life. He worked in Mexico for nineteen years before returning to San Lorenzo.

In 2011, it became necessary for Br. Jim to retire from his labor. He was living at Mercy Retirement and Care Center in Oakland. Up until the end, he would walk the hallways with a great smile and greeting to all he would meet. As the nurses and attendants would assist him he always responded to them with a “Gracias”(thank you in Spanish). He was truly a brother of St Francis and a servant of God. Br Jim died at 1PM on the Feast of Our Holy Father St Francis, October 4, 2014 at Mercy Care Center in Oakland, CA.

The Rosary will be on Sunday October 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm and the Funeral Mass will be on Monday October 13, 2014 at 10:00 am both at Old Mission Santa Inés in Solvang, California. Burial will follow at San Lorenzo Seminary in Santa Ynez, CA.

In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation in memory of Br. Jim Doyle to the Capuchin Franciscan Foundation for Retired Friars, 1345 Cortez Avenue, Burlingame, CA 94010.

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