RIP: Bernard Doering

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Maritain scholar, Bernard Doering. The obituary below was sent to the AMA Dr. Doering’s wife, E. Jane Doering.


“A true Christian is a man who never for a moment forgets what God has done for him in Christ and whose whole comportment and whose activity have their root in the sentiment of gratitude.” ~Jacques Maritain

Bernard Doering, dedicated gardener, gifted woodworker, loving family man, and admired scholar, died on July 9, 2016 after sharing the Prayer of St. Francis with family and dear friends. Bernard was born in St. Louis, MO, on Aug. 7, 1924, into a family of German ancestry as the third of five children, of which only his older sister Dorothy, 95, remains.

After one year at McBride High School, he entered the postulate at Maryhurst in Kirkwood, MO run by the Society of Mary, the Marianists. On completing his B.A. in Education at the University of Dayton, he taught in St. Michael’s Catholic High School in Chicago, IL, in Chaminade College in St. Louis, MO, and in Don Bosco Catholic High School in Milwaukee, WI. In the course of completing his theological studies as a novitiate in Fribourg, Switzerland, he realized his purpose in life dwelt elsewhere. Before returning to St Louis to teach and earn his Masters in English at Washington University, he hitch-hiked around post-War Europe with an American flag on his back-pack.

While attending summer school in 1956 at Laval University, Quebec, to perfect his French for teaching in an elite high school south of Birmingham, AL, he met Jane O’Connor. Jane, from New Jersey, was brushing up her French in Quebec, preparing for a year of graduate studies at the Sorbonne, France. They married in 1958 and both returned to teach at Indian Springs School, a privately funded secondary school for boys, which required that all students be from south of the Mason-Dixon Line and all the teaching staff from the North.

Just as Governor Wallace was making his 1963 “stand in the schoolhouse door”, Bernard, despite a burgeoning family, left Alabama to work on a Ph.D. in French Language and Literature at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Under Professor Wallace Fowley, his initial thesis work on French philosopher, Jacques Maritain, not only earned him a degree, but eventually gained him a well-merited international reputation as a Maritain scholar. His books remain in constant demand and each of his many articles make timely and critical points both for academics and for the general public.

Maritain viewed education as essential to the formation of the self on every level—intellectual, spiritual, ethical, and cultural.  “The aim of education,” he wrote, “is to guide young persons in the process through which they shape themselves as human persons—armed with knowledge, strength of judgment, and moral virtues—while at the same time conveying to them the spiritual heritage of the nation and the civilization in which they are involved.” Bernard embodied this ideal with students of all ages.

Early in his teaching career at Notre Dame, which began in 1965, he helped found the Stage Univérsitaire Notre Dame en France (SUNDEF) in Angers, mentoring six different cohorts of students during their year abroad in France. Over the years, this program has offered more than 3,000 Notre Dame students the opportunity to become fluent in the French language and to immerse themselves in French culture.

Bernard did not rest on his laurels after retirement, but continued to publish and lecture on the contemporary relevance of Jacques Maritain’s thought. He also translated two important books: the first on Jacques and Raïssa Maritain and the second on their contemporary, Simone Weil. Both works won national prizes for excellence. Younger scholars sought Bernard out for support and advice, which he always gave generously.

Bernard’s work earned him many awards: the 1984 Grenville Clark Award for his teaching and service to Notre Dame and the community, the 1994 Reinhold Niebuhr Award for exemplifying justice in both academic work and life, and the Jacques Maritain Excellence in Scholarship Award in 2001.  In 2004, he was invited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the International Jacques Maritain Institute in Rome thanks to his many academic contributions to their Notes et Documents.

His translation, Jacques and Raïssa Maritain: Beggars for Heaven, by Jean-Luc Barré won second Place for the 2006 Best Book Award of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada and was named as one of the Association of American University Presses’ Books Selected for Public and Secondary School Librarians.

ForeWord Reviews awarded him second place for the 2012 Best Book of the Year in philosophy for his translation, Simone Weil: Attention to the Real, by Robert Chenavier.

Bernard and Jane are proud of their four children, Steve (Kim) and Bernie (Kelley) Doering; Kathleen (Mark) Neal, and Tess (Josh) Lewis, and 10 splendid grandchildren, Jaclyn, Kelsey, Jackson, Nick, Kieran, Rebecca, Sarah, Chloë, and Isaiah. Our beloved Noah Lewis left us in infancy.

Bernard’s love of the outdoors led him to become a canoe guide in the Quetico National Park in Canada. He initiated his children into camping adventures in the USA and Europe.

Bernard worked tirelessly both for justice in the racial confrontations in the 1960s in Birmingham, AL and for fairness in academia.

His generous and humble offerings to his fellow beings extend even after death as he has dedicated his body to the Anatomical Education Program of the Indiana University School of Medicine.

The family welcomes memorial donations in his name to the Center for Hospice Care, 501 Comfort Place, Mishawaka IN 46545.

Family and friends will gather for a celebration of Bernard’s life on August 13, 2016, at 3 p.m. in the Church of Loretto, Saint Mary’s College.

May he rest in well-deserved peace, Requiescat in pace.

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