GREEN BAY — Friends and co-workers gathered at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Jan. 19 for a farewell Mass for Bishop-elect John Doerfler, who will be installed as the 13th bishop of Marquette, Mich., on Feb. 11.
It was an opportunity to congratulate Bishop-elect Doerfler and thank him for his 22 years of priestly service to the Diocese of Green Bay. For the bishop-elect, it was a chance to say goodbye and recognize all those who touched his life.
“Thank you for coming this evening and thank you for being a part of my life,” Bishop-elect Doerfler said as he began his homily. “It means a lot to me and you have all, in some way or another, affected me for the better.”
Wearing a bishop’s zucchetto while standing near the cathedral’s front pews, he joked that, a short time ago, he never envisioned being “in this position.”
“Sometimes I wonder, ‘Am I asleep? Am I dreaming? Is this real?’” he said. “I guess it is real.”
Bishop-elect Doerfler shared the story of receiving a phone call and learning the news that Pope Francis had appointed him a bishop. He then reminded everyone in the cathedral that the call of the Lord “for each and every one of us is really something rather mysterious.”
“The Lord has chosen us, he has formed each and every one of us to be his servant in whatever vocation, whatever state in life, whatever mission he has decided and chosen for all eternity,” he said. “Then he reveals it to us in his time and his manner. Whether it be through an unsuspecting phone call or somehow deep in our hearts.”
Bishop-elect Doerfler said that God doesn’t call anyone without giving them “the grace and strength we need to say yes. … Let us look to the Blessed Virgin Mary and ask her intercession and ask her to help us so that with her, we may always say yes to the Lord.”
Following Communion, Bishop Ricken made a gift presentation to Bishop-elect Doerfler on behalf of the diocesan priests.
He said that losing a priest who has been “a capable assistant … is a loss for us all.”
Bishop Ricken said he and Bishop-elect Doerfler will share the same installation or welcoming date into their first dioceses.
“This Feb. 11 will be the 14th anniversary of my installation or welcoming into the Diocese of Cheyenne as coadjutor bishop,” he said. “I must say, however, that I was a nervous wreck and he is as calm as a cucumber.”
Bishop Ricken said he advised the newly appointed shepherd that 80 percent of the vocation of a bishop is wonderful and 20 percent is “very, very hard.”
However, his educational background, his years in a parish and his hands-on experience in the chancery as vicar general and chancellor, where he “put out more than one fire and navigated through more than one complicated, sticky problem,” has prepared him well for his new role.
In presenting the monetary gift from priests of the diocese, Bishop Ricken read a letter on their behalf.
“We will miss your presence among us. At the same time we know that God has prepared you well for your next calling as bishop,” the letter stated. “You have our prayers, our best wishes and our fraternal love as you leave here to serve as the 13th bishop of the Diocese of Marquette.”
Following Mass, a reception was held at the Riverside Ballroom, where Bishop-elect Doerfler was able to visit with guests and well-wishers.
MORE PHOTOS: To view more photos from the farewell Mass, go to our Flickr photo page.