Dear Reader: Not long ago, Father David Hasser asked me to write an article describing the work that Father Brian Doerr does as Vice Rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. I decided to write the article as a letter to you in order to emphasize the personal nature of it. There are many topics about seminary formation and the goings-on at the Mount that I could report to you in a matter-of-fact manner. The reality is that Father Doerr and the work that he does are not among them. With that said, please let me continue.
I first met Father Brian Doerr, in person, when I was a student at Purdue University. I had been encouraged by a friend to attend a Bible Study that Father led on Tuesday nights. Father was engaging and direct. He spoke to us about the meaning of the Scriptures and showed us plainly that we were responsible for responding to the Truths that they conveyed. After the Bible Study, Father would encourage us to join him in the chapel for an hour of Adoration before our Lord in the Eucharist and would make himself available to hear our confessions. Everything about those nights at Purdue was directed towards Christ. Father Doerr has a powerful personality, as anyone who knows him can tell you, but he uses that power to bring people to Jesus.
Father Doerr was the Vocation Director for the diocese for eleven years. During that time, many in Lafayette began to wonder, “What vocation crisis?” Due to Father Doerr’s hard work and true devotion to our Lord, young men and women began to put themselves forward to serve the Church. Father would be the first to point out that this is all the working of the Holy Spirit, but as one of his seminarians I can tell you that Father Doerr is a significant means by which the Holy Spirit has done this work.
Once a man puts himself forward as a candidate for the seminary, Father Doerr would begin to work with him. Father has never been one to just process applicants. He mentored us, personally helping us to improve our strengths and challenging us to overcome our weaknesses. Again, all of this was done with a clear focus on forming us into the best servants of God and of His Church that we could be.
Now Father Doerr serves as the Vice Rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary here in Emmitsburg, Maryland. One of the great qualities of the Church is that it is both local and universal. We worship our God together with our local Church under our pastors and Bishop Doherty as well as with the whole world under Pope Benedict XVI. As Vice Rector at the Mount, Father Doerr’s unique skills and devotion to Christ are influencing the future of the Church at home, in the Diocese of Lafayette, and now throughout the United States.
Msgr. Rohlfs, our rector, has assigned Father Doerr to focus primarily on the seminarians’ human formation. In essence, it is Father’s job to make sure that we become good men, not just functional priests. It is a job that Father Doerr never expected but one that he has excelled at over the past year. When I asked the rector if he would like to say anything for this article he told me to relate that, “Father Doerr’s ability to challenge yet encourage, and correct while giving hope has had a tremendous effect on not a few of our men.” Msgr. Rohlfs continued, “He truly does have an almost sixth sense about him in guiding young men towards the vocation the Lord has called them to. He is a true professional.”
Throughout history, God has set certain men aside to serve the Church as priests. These men must be humble, strong, and loyal. Within this great and wondrous calling, Father Doerr has been chosen, as an instrument of God, to prepare others to fulfill this role well.
I suspect that you will agree with me that our diocese is blessed to have Father Doerr counted among our priests. And, I am sure that we will receive many blessings for sharing him with the Universal Church. Please pray for Father Doerr and for all those who are directly involved in the formation of your seminarians. They have an immensely challenging job, and the results of their labors will affect the Church for generations to come.
In concluding this letter, I would like to thank you also for all that you do for the Church. Your prayers and sacrifices strengthen men like Father Doerr in the work that they do for you. May God continue to bless our diocese.