Fires don’t deter St. Pat’s new rector
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church’s new rector, Doyle Dietz Allen, and her husband Tom, were planning their move from Tucson, Arizona, to Kenwood just as October’s fires broke out.
When Priest Doyle received a message on her phone that Kenwood was burning, her first thought was, “My phone has been hacked,” she said. Everything became clearer in the following days and, thankfully, St. Patrick’s was spared. Doyle and Tom weren’t deterred and were on the first plane allowed to land at Santa Rosa airport after the emergency evacuations were lifted. In a matter of days, they found a house to purchase in Oakmont and by the end of November were settled in with their 21-month-old “baby girl,” a Wooly Siberian Husky named Kita.
Now, a month into her new position at St. Patrick’s, Priest Doyle is getting her feet under her and exploring her new community. “This is the most interesting place I’ve ever been,” said Doyle, praising the small-town country feel of Kenwood, situated so close to a “nice city” like Santa Rosa, with the ocean and redwoods nearby. “It’s beautiful and the food is delicious.” Doyle had never been to Northern California before visiting St. Patrick’s when she interviewed in September.
Doyle grew up in Texas and was raised in the Episcopal Church. Before attending seminary, she worked for more than two decades in the business world, holding various positions in the staffing industry and in sales. She also ran a center for victims of sexual assault and family violence serving seven counties in East Texas. Later, she spent seven months teaching English in South Korea. “After a long time of discernment and prayer and considering my gifts, I felt the call to be a priest,” said Doyle.
She returned to Texas to attend the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where she graduated in 2008. While in her last year at school, Doyle met Tom through a mutual friend and they were soon married. They celebrated their 10-year anniversary in December, right after their move to Northern California. Tom, a longtime Texan, was born and raised in the Northeast, where he still has family. Here in California, he continues to work as an educational consultant for high school students and their families, helping them find the best college or university match.
Doyle was ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Forth Worth and then served in Dallas and Arlington, Texas, before moving to her most recent position as assistant rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Tucson. After serving four and a half years there, Doyle saw in St. Patrick’s a new opportunity and a new ministry with a good match for her own personal gifts and skills.
“I felt a calling to be a rector before I was ordained,” said Doyle. “It is certainly more fulfilling to be using the gifts you were given.”
Doyle said she has experienced what many others have also experienced and can draw on those life experiences – like the challenges of being a woman in the business world, of trying to enter the church as a woman, the death of family members – to provide guidance. “I have lots of experience working and interacting with people in different ways,” she said.
Doyle saw in St. Patrick’s a healthy parish that wanted to grow in Christ. The areas where the parish wants to grow match her own gifts and skills as a rector, including liturgics, pastoral counseling, Christian education, spiritual leadership, and administration.
“I would like to see the people of St. Patrick’s further Christ’s ministry and affect community for the better,” said Doyle. “It’s all about healing, wholeness, relationships, and reconciliation.
“I bring skills that will help people of St. Patrick’s fulfill their mission. My job is to help support and train them to do that – as well as be a spiritual guide in that process.”
In her free time, Doyle can be found outside in nature, walking, visiting with family and friends, reading or playing with her dog, Kita.
St. Patrick’s is located at 9000 Sonoma Highway. You can reach the church at 833-4228.
Sarah Phelps is an editor, staff writer, and native Kenwoodian.