Pope Francis has named Father John F. Doerfler of the Diocese of Green Bay as the next bishop of Marquette, Mich.
Bishop-designate Doerfler, who has cross-country skied in the area before, said he was first attracted to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by “its natural beauty.”
“I now have the opportunity to experience the beauty of the people of faith in this diocese,” he said Dec. 17.
Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay praised the appointment.
“I could not be more delighted that the Holy Father has chosen to elevate Father John Doerfler to the episcopacy,” he said Dec. 17, explaining that the bishop-designate has “excelled in his service” to the Green Bay diocese and has been “a trusted adviser on moral and canonical issues.”
“His presence, ministry and expertise will be sorely missed here, but he will bring many gifts to the Diocese of Marquette,” Bishop Ricken said.
Bishop-designate Doerfler has been the vicar general of the Diocese of Green Bay since 2005.
Born Nov. 2, 1964 in Appleton, Wisc., to Henry and Germaine Doerfler, he graduated from Appleton West High School in 1983 and received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and classics from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.
The bishop-to-be was a seminarian at the Gregorian University in Rome, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology. He holds a licentiate in canon law from The Catholic University of America and both a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Washington, D.C.
Bishop-designate Doerfler was ordained a priest on July 13, 1991.
He has served as parochial vicar and administrator at several parishes of the Green Bay diocese, including St. John Nepomucene Parish in Little Chute, Holy Trinity Parish in Casco, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Green Bay, St. Joseph Parish in Sturgeon Bay, and St. Francis Xavier Cathedral. He has also been rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wis.
Bishop-designate Doerfler has served in diocesan positions as chancellor and judge for the tribunal. He has taught at the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corner and has published several articles on medical ethics.
He is the chaplain to the northeast Wisconsin chapter of Legatus, an organization for Catholic businessmen, and has served in Hispanic ministry. He has worked with Catholic organizations including Teens Encounter Christ, Courage, Widows of Prayer and Retrouivaille.
In an interview published by Legatus Magazine in June 2010, Bishop-designated Doerfler said he was “highly involved” in his high school youth programs as a teenager.
His parents had a “very vibrant faith” and he “grew up in church in one way or another.”
He said he decided to pursue a vocation to the priesthood when he realized he couldn’t picture himself doing anything “other than working with the Church.”
The bishop-to-be will become the Marquette diocese’s thirteenth bishop. The diocese has more than 68,000 Catholics out of a population of 321,000. It has 90 priests, 44 permanent deacons and 51 vowed religious, covering an area of over 16,200 square miles.
Bishop-designate Doerfler’s ordination is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2014 at Marquette’s St. Peter Cathedral.
The diocese’s previous bishop, Alexander Sample, now heads the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore.