ASHBURN, Virginia — Francis X. Doyle, who was the first lay associate general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, died at his residence in Ashburn Sept. 10 after a brief illness. He was 89.
Doyle experienced stroke symptoms Aug. 8 and was admitted to Inova Loudoun Hospital in Virginia. After a weeklong hospitalization, he was discharged back to his apartment at Waltonwood Assisted Living in Ashburn, where he was receiving hospice care.
A funeral Mass for Doyle will be celebrated Sept. 19 at St. Mark Church in Vienna followed by burial at Flint Hill Cemetery.
Doyle joined the staff of the bishops’ conference — then called the National Conference of Catholic Bishops-U.S. Catholic Conference — as assistant director of government liaison in 1971. He became deputy director of finance and administration in 1977 and director of that office in 1978.
He was named associate general secretary of the twin conferences in 1984 and remained in that post for 11 years, except for a six-month break in 1986 following an operation. He retired Dec. 31, 1995.
He oversaw personnel and financial operations of the bishops’ national offices and staffed the bishops’ committees on personnel, stewardship and the economic concerns of the Holy See.
He also staffed the National Advisory Council, a consultative body of about 50 bishops, priests, religious and laypeople who regularly advise the bishops on issues facing them at the national level.
In the late 1980s, Doyle oversaw the construction of new NCCB-USCC headquarters near The Catholic University of America in Washington’s Brookland neighborhood and the move of staff offices to the new building.
The NCCB dealt with matters such as doctrine, liturgy, canon law, seminaries, priestly life and ministry, religious life, the permanent diaconate, ecumenical and interreligious affairs, pro-life activities and other issues. The USCC reflected the Catholic Church’s engagement with the world in the areas of education, social justice, and communication.
After extensive study, planning and discussion, the bishops adopted a restructuring plan that combined the NCCB and USCC into the present U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2001.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, July 13, 1933, Doyle attended Brooklyn Prep and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, graduating in 1955. He later earned a master’s degree in education from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, and a law degree from St. John’s University in Jamaica, New York.
Before joining the U.S. bishops’ conference staff, he taught high school while attending law school at night. He also had been an FBI special agent, assistant to the executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of the United States and Canada, and executive director of the National Catholic Development Conference.
Doyle was always active in his church, particularly his home parish of St. Mark in Vienna, where he served in a number of roles, most notably as parish council president and as a lector for many years.
“Serving his country as a U.S. Marine was another significant part of his life,” family members wrote in an obituary posting.
He also “was fond of the Marine Corps hymn,” they said, “as well as classical music, the Brooklyn Dodgers, reading the newspaper (The Washington Post), and following whatever sports or activities his children and grandchildren were engaged in.”
“Frank was most proud of his family, and his legacy will live on through them. He was a constant example of love and caring and was known for asking all those he encountered about their lives and background,” the obituary said.
“Whether they were friends of his children, health care professionals treating him, or servers at a restaurant, he would ask where they were from, as well as what and where they studied; if they were from another country, he would attempt to converse in their native language, even if he only knew a word or phrase,” it said.
He leaves an amazing legacy of love, service and family, and a life truly well-lived,” it added.
Doyle was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Carole. He is survived by the couple’s four children and their spouses, as well as 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.