Bishop Doerfler reflects on 2014

The 13th bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Marquette is marking his first anniversary of his service to the region.

With an estimated 15% Catholic population in Upper Michigan, Bishop John F. Doerfler has a very large congregation. “But my suspicion is that if it is like a lot of other places in the United States, there are more people who are not actively practicing a faith than those who are,” said Bishop Doerfler. “And how important it is for us to make an outreach to everyone.”

When a gay man in a long-time relationship was asked to not participate in services, the bishop had to respond publicly. “To interpret the events at St. Michael Parish of this last weekend as being a matter of exclusion, I think that’s a misunderstanding,” he said. “The focus of what this is really about are the qualifications for public ministry within the church.”

Looking back, Doerfler says it was a teachable moment for the community. “Whenever there is a so called issue that arises, there’s always an opportunity with that to proclaim the good news of Jesus and to offer the teaching of Christ and the teaching of the church, and so there is always an opportunity to do that.”

Moving forward, Doerfler wants the faithful to carry on the message. He said, “Don’t nag, you know. Don’t try to force religion on people, but just be willing to share why Jesus Christ is important to you.” And that’s the same message the first bishop in the Diocese of Marquette delivered.

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