Upper Peninsula has new Catholic bishop

Catholics in the Upper Peninsula received an early Christmas present in December with the announcement that they’d soon have a new bishop, and now he’s officially in place. ABC 10 senior reporter Mike Hoey spoke with him and with his predecessor.

Father John Doerfler, the former vicar general of the Diocese of Green Bay, is now Bishop Doerfler of the Diocese of Marquette.

He’s spent his time since mid-December learning about his new home and getting spiritually ready. “The most important part of preparation to begin the ministry of bishop is a spiritual preparation, so I had a wonderful retreat, a good time of prayer,” Bishop Doerfler said.

Marquette’s previous bishop, Archbishop Alexander Sample, left the Upper Peninsula for the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon last year. He’s known Bishop Doerfler for about 20 years.

“To see such a wonderful priest appointed bishop here, and someone that I know to be a man of prayer, a man of deep faith, a good shepherd and a good administrator, which is part of the skill that you need for this responsibility, I’m just overjoyed,” Archbishop Sample said.

He says he hasn’t consulted with his successor about how to serve as the Catholic spiritual shepherd for the U.P. because he wants Bishop Doerfler to serve the faithful in his own way. “But I’ve let Bishop Doerfler know that I am completely available to him for any questions he might have, any consultations he might want to have with me,” Archbishop Sample said. “I do that frequently with my own predecessor in Portland because, sometimes, you just need to get the background on situations or people.”

This is only the second time in the last century that a new bishop has been ordained at St. Peter Cathedral. Archbishop Sample’s own ordination as Bishop of Marquette eight years ago was the other.

“I just want to say how delighted I am with the appointment to be the Bishop of Marquette,” Bishop Doerfler said. “It’s a great diocese, wonderful people. I’m excited to be here and begin serving.”

Bishop Doerfler has chosen as his episcopal motto the Latin phrase that translates as “The Joy of the Gospel”, and he hopes to spread that joy across the region.