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New bishop selected for Catholics in U.P.
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Friday, December 20, 2013 6:00 PM
Rev. John Doerfier, Appleton, has been named by Pope Francis to serve as the next bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette. Doerfier, 49, will be ordained at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette Feb. 11.
Special to the EagleHerald
MENOMINEE - After going the better part of a year without a bishop the Catholic Diocese of Marquette will soon have a new leader. Pope Francis has appointed Rev. John Doerfler to lead 50,000 Catholics in the Upper Peninsula.
The 49-year-old Doerfler is currently serving as vicar general of the Diocese of Green Bay. He will become the 13th bishop for the U.P., replacing Bishop Alexander Sample, who was installed as archbishop of Portland, Ore., in April.
"I received a call from the papal nuncio, who is the pope's representative to the United States. He said the Holy Father had chosen me to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Marquette," Doerfler said in a telephone interview on Friday. It was a call he wasn't expecting, but said he feels up to the challenge.
"It certainly was a surprised," he said. "I don't know if anyone is ever prepared for that kind of phone call. But from my perspective, I responded affirmatively and joyfully. When I said yes to the priesthood, I said yes to serving the Lord Jesus, in whichever way you'd like to serve your church."
Doerfler is from Appleton, Wisn. His widowed mother, Germaine (Mancl) Doerfler and his brother Thomas still live there. He said he thinks his mom was a bit overwhelmed but joyous when she heard the news.
"She's very happy and I think a very proud mom," he said.
Before getting down to the business of leading his flock, Doerfler must be ordained and installed as bishop. That will take place Feb. 11 at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the papal nuncio, will be present to read the letter from the pope appointing Doerfler as bishop.
"I have two priorities or focuses as I begin," he said. "The first is to know and to love the people of the Diocese of Marquette. The other is to be able to help people come to know and love Jesus and know that joy that faith in Jesus Christ brings."
The bishop-elect said all the popes in his lifetime have brought special gifts and talents to the church, but that Pope Francis has a "special gift" of a sense of joy. Doerfler said the pope "speaks to people with the heart of a pastor in a way that people can really relate to him. Those are qualities that I would like to do my best to imitate."
There are priests today who were saying Mass before Doerfler was even born, but don't let that lead you to believe he's ill-prepared for the road ahead. A 1983 graduate of Appleton West High School, Doerfler earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy and classics from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. He then became a seminarian at Gregorian University in Rome where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in sacred theology. He was ordained to the priesthood in July of 1991.
He has served in parishes in Green Bay and around the Fox River Valley and earned his licentiate in canon law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In addition, he earned a licentiate in sacred theology and a doctorate in sacred theology.
Doerfler has written several articles on medical ethics for various publications and has worked with Teens Encounter Christ, taught diocesan lay ministry formation courses, offered adult education conferences, was retreat master at Holy Name of Jesus Retreat House on Chambers Island, and served as chair of the Marriage Research Committee of the Canon Law Society of America.
Doerfler is no stranger to Menominee or the U.P. He has gone cross-country skiing here and enjoys outdoor activities, especially hiking and bicycling.
"Though first attracted to the U.P. by its natural beauty, I now have the opportunity to experience the beauty of the people of faith in this diocese," he said.
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