APPLETON — Germaine K. Doerfler, 82, mother of Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, Mich., died on Sunday, April 19, in Appleton.
The former Germaine Mancl had been active in church ministry, serving for 24 years as director of liturgy at St. Mary Parish in Appleton; in 1991, she also became director of music. She was an accomplished musician and played the organ at her parish, as well as at St. Pius X Parish in her earlier years.
Her son, Tom, noted in a 2013 interview that his mother was at the parish for “many, many, many hours — especially on Christmas and Easter.”
Germaine agreed. “A six-hour day doesn’t happen in parish ministry,” she said. “If I didn’t have support of the family, I couldn’t have done it. They were very generous. If they had complained, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. My husband was very generous and also very active. (Henry Doerfler died in 1998. The couple had been married 37 years.)
As a church minister, she felt strongly about the Vatican II impact on parishes. “If you read those documents, they’re beautiful,” she said, adding that, sometimes, the people who interpreted the documents “were off.”
She compared church life to family living: “If you have a family of two or three, you have certain rules. If you have a family of 12, like my sister did, you have to have more order. If you have a church of 100-200 people, you don’t need all those laws. But if you have a church that’s worldwide, you need rules to hold us together.”
Before her marriage, Germaine had entered religious life to be a Carmelite, but health issues forced her to leave the carmel in Pewaukee. She became a member of the Secular Order of the Discalced Carmelites, as well as The Community of St. Joseph and The Widows of Prayer.
She was proud of her priest/bishop son, John, admitting after his appointment to the Diocese of Marquette, that, “I think of Mary a lot, when Jesus went out. When he went out for his public life and I imagine she was very happy with things that he did. But I imagine that it bothered her when he was ridiculed, spit at and people left him. I think of that as priests too. When they go out for ministry, it’s wonderful to see them and the ministry they do, but you know that their life is open to everybody and they are open to a lot of criticism and pain and heartache. It’s a cross.”
She was proud when Fr. John was named to Marquette and worried about him.
“People would mention to me about his being a bishop,” she said. “I’d never wish it on him, but if it’s God’s will. … But in this day and age, it’s hard.”
She was also proud of her son, Tom, his wife, Lisa, and their son, Bryan. Due to health issues, Germaine had lived with the family, along with Lisa’s father, Lester Hartzheim, until her death.
“I think of Tom and Lisa giving witness to the church of love and caring,” she had said in 2013. “Every day, I see the hands of Jesus in them. They’re caring for me and Lester. I know it isn’t easy and they’ve given up a lot, but I see the hands of Jesus working here with love and care and concern.”
Germaine is survived by two sons: Bishop John Doerfler and Tom (Lisa) Doerfler; grandson Bryan; three sisters-in-law: Donna Mancl, Pat Baum, and Sue Wilson. She is further survived by many nieces, nephews, and friends.
The funeral Mass will be celerbated at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 24, at St. Mary Church, 312 S. State St., Appleton, with Bishop Doerfler officiating. Friends may visit on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Brettschneider-Trettin-Nickel Funeral Chapel, 606 N. Oneida St., and on Friday at the funeral chapel from 9 to 10 a.m. A prayer service will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the funeral chapel. Interment will take place at St. Joseph Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established.