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 | By Theresa Stratford

New Diocesan Women Leaders Look to the Future

As another year begins, it means the start of something new and the chance to make a change. For two women leaders in the Diocese of Charleston, 2023 will be the year for a fresh start, the year to reimagine and establish themselves in their new roles.

Lydia Doyle was named the new executive director of Catholic Charities of South Carolina in August of 2022. Kristin Eyre started as the director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection and the Victim Assistance Coordinator in September.

With these important new positions comes great responsibility. Both women know the gravity and significance of their roles and the magnitude of 2023 being the first full year in them.


Doyle said she feels as though so many aspects of her life have led her to this moment and to leading Catholic Charities.

“I was always a volunteer and I always gave back to others. I knew I would eventually find a career in nonprofits,” she explained.

Doyle is not new to the diocese. She was the director of the Office of Planning and Operations from 2013 to 2020, when she moved to Ireland to obtain her masters degree in development practice from Trinity College Dublin.

“There are only a few schools with this program,” she said. “It focuses on humanitarian efforts and how they are delivered. Gaining this master’s degree will help me serve people better.”

Doyle admitted that although she loved her role in planning and operations, she missed working with people.

“I just wanted more. I really missed serving people,” she added.

She stayed in touch with her former coworkers in the Palmetto State while in Ireland and was approached about the Catholic Charities position when it opened.

“I feel so fortunate to have found my dream job, and I have the most amazing team working alongside me,” she said. “Between the staff and the volunteers, they are all so dedicated and passionate.”

Doyle works out of the Catholic Charities Aiken office, but there is a field office in every deanery except Rock Hill, five immigration offices and the headquarters located in Charleston. There are 13 offices in total, plus the Restorative Justice office and the Carter-May retirement home. Catholic Charities offers assistance with food pantries, disaster services, outreach to those experiencing homelessness, immigration legal services and general wellness services.

Doyle acknowledged that she has come into a ministry that has been successful for the diocese, and she plans to extend its reach to make an even larger impact.

“There is so much beauty in what we do for the people of South Carolina,” she said. “One of the things I want to work on is really getting that word out and spreading our message further, beyond our communities.”

Doyle said there has been an increase in homelessness and housing needs, and mental health services have also increased dramatically. When asked what the community can do to help, Doyle asked for prayers.

“Pray for us. If you need our services, reach out. If you would like to volunteer, we would love to have you. When it comes to donations, we will make sure the money is getting to the people who need it,” she said.

Although Doyle admitted that her role can feel overwhelming, she said it is overwhelming in the best way.

“This opportunity is incredible. I am humbled. It means so much. I get to work with amazing people and serve the people of South Carolina. What more could I ask for?”


Eyre is filling a role that was actually empty for 11 years. Msgr. Richard Harris, vicar general, who is also the pastor of St. Joseph Church in Columbia, was filling in as needed.

Obviously getting someone to take on the director position for the Office of Child and Youth Protection (CYP) full time was overdue. When Eyre was approached for the position, she expressed that it was an opportunity for which she had always hoped.

“Ensuring the safety of children is very important to me,” she said. “There are just so many aspects to this position that interest me. It’s challenging, and I really get to make a difference.”

As a former social worker and therapist, Eyre, with the acronyms MSW, LISW-CP behind her name, brings to the position her commitment to providing compassionate care and support for those needing her services. She will also be the acting victim assistance coordinator.

Eyre is looking forward to strengthening the relationship between this office and the Catholic parishes in South Carolina and spreading the word with how they provide a safe environment for children.

“There is room for improvement,” she said, noting that communication will be key. “There is so much potential to do more.”

Every parish and diocese in the United States has a victim assistance coordinator for its youth protection office. There is a yearly conference for people in these roles, and Eyre said that they are part of an online group that lends support virtually.

“I’m enjoying reaching out and talking to other people in these roles from all over the country,” she said. “I ask them what they would do differently, and I am finding out how others work inside their diocese. Everyone does things a little differently.”

Directors and assistance coordinators share educational resources and even who they use for background investigators, etc.

Bonnie Sigers, longtime manager of the CYP office, works alongside Eyre as the safe environment manager. Eyre also has to administer and adhere to the yearly audit that the diocese, and every parish in the state, is subject to in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

“The Charter is a promise from the Catholic Bishops in America that they would do all in their power to assure parents and the community at large, that even though mistakes were made, the future of the Church in America would embrace the safety of its children as a focal point of its mission,” it reads.

This charter implements the Church’s mandates and contains 17 articles, which were created to eliminate the possibility of child sexual abuse happening in parishes and schools.

“It’s important that the parishes and the diocese as a whole are in compliance with the charter,” Eyre said.

She wants victims to know that her entire job is dedicated to them.

“They are the reason we exist. We are here to support their journey from the moment they make the report and all the way through the healing process,” she explained.

She also wants victims to know that it isn’t just recent reports that they support either – “some of them are from 40 years ago.

“If you have been sexually abused by a clergy [member], employee of the Catholic Church or volunteer, call us. We are here to help you figure out the steps you need to take in the healing process,” Eyre added.

She said that she is happy that the Church has confronted the issue head-on to take ownership and ask for forgiveness.

“We are making it so that the opportunity for this to ever happen again does not exist,” she said.

Eyre wants parents to feel that their children are safe in Catholic schools.

“Every Catholic school has a safe environment coordinator. The curriculum for teaching about child sexual abuse is all age appropriate,” and parents have the right to opt out.

As a part of the charter, all employees and volunteers have to go through special child safety training and be certified, which requires a background investigation that must be renewed every five years. There is also a Code of Conduct that all employees and volunteers are required to sign.

As Eyre sets her sights on the future, she is ready for the journey ahead and trusts in her calling to serve people.

“For me, every day is filled with endless possibility and hope for the future,” she said. “I am excited about my team, and I am learning new skills and exploring ways to apply those skills to improve the services we provide the Diocese of Charleston.

“Personally, I also look forward to discovering what new challenges we will face each day, and I enjoy the process of building upon the firm foundation that exists because of the efforts of those who came before me,” Eyre said.