Susan Cedrone, a longtime church volunteer who lives in Delaware, said Doyle realized that by becoming homeowners, people would have more pride in where they lived and the community would become more stable.

Church members also say he is responsible for keeping both Sacred Heart and Sacred Heart School alive.

Every month, he sends out 5,000 letters to encourage people from all over to pay $300 to support one child’s tuition at the school.

“We have a saying in Ireland: ‘You can’t get blood from a stone,‘” Doyle said.

There is no way that Camden families can pay enough tuition to support the school. A sign with a red heart outside the church notes that the school is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

“Many of us came here because of his conviction of a liturgy that leads to justice,” Cedrone said. “You can’t just go to church and pray without doing something about what is going on in the world.”

Sacred Heart’s Masses follow the traditional Catholic calendar.

“Our Mass leads to justice,” Cedrone added. “If you have a good liturgy, you’re nourished by that liturgy and then it sends you forth to make things right in the world.”

About three or four years ago, after Doyle had surgery, Father Mike McCue, an oblate of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, began assisting with Mass.

“We all knew it was coming, but it’s still sad,” Lesly D’Ambola said of Doyle’s retirement.

Many derived some relief that he plans to remain in the neighborhood.

The parishioners were also pleased that Doyle’s successor is Father Vincent G. Guest, an immigration lawyer and the former director of the Camden Center for Law and Social Justice.

Doyle also seemed happy about that pick.

“I heard he asked the bishop to be assigned to Camden and said he wanted to stay in Camden for life,” the Irish priest said with a smile and twinkle in his eyes.