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2/13/2014 10:17:00 AM
New Marquette bishop a 'great shepherd'
U.P. Catholic photos
Archbishop Alexander Sample lays hands on Bishop John Doerfler at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette, Mich.
U.P. Catholic photos
Archbishop Alexander Sample lays hands on Bishop John Doerfler at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette, Mich.
Archbishop Sample and the new bishop are old cross country ski partners.
Archbishop Sample and the new bishop are old cross country ski partners.

MARQUETTE, Mich. — The Diocese of Marquette installed its new bishop at a Mass held at St. Peter Cathedral here Feb. 11. Bishop John Doerfler is the former vicar general of the nearby Diocese of Green Bay, Wis.

Archbishop Alexander Sample, previous bishop of Marquette and now leader of the Archdiocese of Portland, attended the ordination Mass. He has known the new bishop for 20 years and considers him a good friend.  

Archbishop Sample, who said he used to cross-country ski with Bishop Doerfler, called the new bishop a good administrator and a man of "deep, deep faith" who is well grounded in the church teachings.

The archbishop told the online journal Upper Michigan Source that the installation brought a sense of closure knowing Catholics in Upper Michigan have a new shepherd.

"I think this is a match made in heaven between the Diocese of Marquette and Bishop Doerfler," Archbishop Sample said. "I know Bishop Doerfler very well and he'll be a great, great shepherd for the people of the Upper Peninsula."

Long applause and standing ovation welcomed the new bishop during his episcopal ordination and installation.

The new bishop's mother, Germaine Doerfler, looked on from the front row, overwhelmed and overjoyed for her son.

"It's just beautiful," she told Upper Michigan Source. "I know John is going to be very, very happy in Marquette."

Bishop Doerfler said his first official order of business will be to get to know the Catholics in the Diocese of Marquette by traveling and making appearances.

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Doerfler in December. In his Green Bay post since 2005, he also held part-time duties supervising the Green Bay diocesan Office of Canonical Services. He was a former chancellor of the diocese.

Father Francis Dobrzenski led the Diocese of Marquette as administrator after Archbishop Sample came to Portland after seven years as Marquette's spiritual leader.

Bishop Doerfler says he is familiar with Michigan's Upper Peninsula, having cross-country skied in the region. He 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 in a statement.

Born Nov. 2, 1964, in Appleton, Wis., Bishop Doerfler holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from what is now the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and a bachelor of theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He holds a licentiate in canon law from The Catholic University of America in Washington and a licentiate and doctorate from the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family, also in Washington.

He has written on medical ethics and reproductive technology for The Linacre Quarterly, which is the journal of the Catholic Medical Association, and Ethics and Medics, a publication of the National Catholic Bioethics Center. He has been a part-time lecturer on moral theology at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis.

He was ordained a priest for the Green Bay Diocese in 1991 and has served in a number of parishes, including at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral as associate pastor. He served on the diocesan tribunal, 1997-2003; was assistant chancellor of the diocese, 1998; temporary administrator at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, 1999; and chancellor of the diocese, 2005-2013.

Since 2004, he has been chaplain to Legatus, a membership organization of Catholic business leaders. Organizations he has worked with include Teens Encounter Christ, Courage, Widows of Prayer and Retrouvaille. He also has done some Hispanic ministry, taught diocesan lay ministry formation courses, offered adult education conferences, was retreat master at Holy Name of Jesus Retreat House on Chambers Island, Wis., and served one term as chair of the Marriage Research Committee of the Canon Law Society of America.

The Marquette Diocese is comprised of 16 counties, covering more than 16,200 square miles. It has a Catholic population of about 48,000 out of a total population of 312,000.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Article comment by: Rolando Rodriguez

Our Archbishop Alexander Sample came to us from the diocese of Marquette. It is good to hear that our Holy Father Francis has appointed a new Pastor of Michiganís Upper Peninsula. I know little about Bishop John Doerfler other than his posted biographies. His greeting and mission statement is very simple and clear, encouraging and challenging, most heartening and echoes our Holy Fatherís words: ďBecome a friend of Jesus. Make a friend. Introduce your friend to Jesus. Do you accept this invitation? Thatíll keep us busy until Christ comes again in glory.Ē

Amen! An excellent invitation to New Evangelization by living the Beatitudes.

Deo gratias.

Paz y Bien, Rolando, OFS.

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