MARQUETTE - After presenting the Catholic Diocese of Marquette with its 10th bishop 35 years ago, the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis ., has again been called on to provide one of its priests to lead the more than 50,000 Catholics in the Upper Peninsula.
Pope Francis has appointed the Rev. John F. Doerfler, who is vicar general of the Diocese of Green Bay, as the 13th bishop of the Diocese of Marquette.
The late Bishop Mark Schmitt was the auxiliary bishop of Green Bay when he was appointed bishop of Marquette and installed at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette in 1978.
Doerfler will be ordained and installed as bishop in that same cathedral on Feb. 11. He succeeds Archbishop Alexander Sample, installed as archbishop of Portland in Oregon on April 2, after serving as bishop of Marquette for seven years.
The Diocese of Marquette has been led by diocesan administrator, the Rev. Francis Dobrzenski, of Lake Linden, since that time.
According to the Rev. Robb Jurkovich, of Our Lady of Peace in Ironwood, the news came at a great time. "It's wonderful news," Jurkovich said. "It's a great Christmas present. Frankly, we thought we would have to wait a little longer."
Doerfler said the U.P. is familiar to him, having cross country skied here in the past, and 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.
Both Jurkovich and Deacon Chuck Gervasio, also of OLOP, said it was nice to have someone familiar to the U.P. be appointed.
"I think he fits the mold to become a Yooper," Gervasio said. "He has similar attributes and likes to do the same things that Bishop Sample had liked to do while he was here. I think everyone is happy the decision has finally come down. I think he'll fit in well here, because he is familiar with our diocese, coming in from Green Bay."
Doerfler was born Nov. 2, 1964, in Appleton, Wis ., the son of the late Henry Doerfler and Germaine (Mancl) Doerfler. He graduated from Appleton West High School in 1983 and earned a bachelor 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 on July 13, 1991.
Doerfler's first priestly assignment was as parochial vicar at St. John Nepomucene Parish in Little Chute, Wis ., from 1991-'95. He then spent the next two years earning his licentiate in canon law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
When he returned to Wisconsin, he was appointed defender of the bond for the Tribunal of the Diocese of Green Bay and parochial vicar of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay, while earning his licentiate in sacred theology from John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family. He earned his doctorate in sacred theology from the same institute in 2008.
Doerfler is currently the chaplain to Legatus, a Catholic organization of lay business people, and a member of the Diocesan College of Consultors.
He has written several articles on medical ethics for various publications.
Doerfler's family includes his mother, Germaine Doerfler; brother, Thomas Doerfler; sister-in-law, Lisa (Hartzheim) Doerfler; and nephew, Bryan Doerfler.
- Cortney Ofstad