Retiring After Almost a Quarter Century of Service, Memories
April 25, 2024
ROCKFORD—Dorothea Barger began service as administrative assistant for the Diocese of Rockford Office of Vocations in 1999, coming to the position after four years of work as the assistant to the owner of Road Ranger Enterprise, from work at Eclipse Combustion and Control, and from time raising her family.
“Variety” might be the best word to describe her service at the Diocese of Rockford. 
Barger retired on April 19 from her work assisting the Vocations Office, the Office of the Permanent Diaconate (added to her duties in 2013), and the Office of Research and Planning (added in before 2013). She has worked for seven priest directors and several associates of the Vocations Office, for three directors of the permanent diaconate, and for two directors of research and planning. 
Under Father Michael Lavan’s leadership of the Vocations Office, Barger developed and provided a discernment option for young women who asked for something besides the St. Therese Vocations summer camps, which typically introduced young girls to the option of religious life. 
Barger’s “Nun Run” road trips to the motherhouses of various women religious congregations were taken with Sally Arndt, administrative assistant to general counsel and chancellor Ellen Lynch. For several years, the two women drove and chaperoned small groups of young women who were discerning possible calls to religious life. During those years, they visited convents from Kentucky to Nebraska.
Barger says she sees the value of such explorations — including for seminarians who investigated the option of becoming a religious order priest. 
“At least they saw and were better informed,” she says of the importance of checking out such interests early on. Even discerning out of this or that possibility helps a man or woman narrow their focus closer and closer to their true calling. And if they discern marriage instead, they just may have children who become priests or sisters, she says.
Some of Barger’s fondest memories also involve travel: her visits to seminarians when she was otherwise in their area. Those “hellos” to seminarians included St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Nebraska, and the Pontifical North American College in Rome. The guys knew and shared with her “the lay of the land,” she says, and recommended places to see and where to dine.
Barger grew up in Rockford’s St. Edward Parish. She and her husband, Ray, married in 1977 and moved across town, becoming parishioners at St. Bernadette Parish where they continue to worship.
Her retirement plans begin with relaxing and yard work, continue with visiting her daughter and family in Utah, future visits to see her other children and family members, and some volunteer work.
And walking, possibly lots more walking for fresh air, exercise, and conversations with friends.
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