Father Bernard Dollen, a priest of the Diocese of Rochester for nearly 70 years, died Oct. 13, 2021. He was 93.
A Rochester native, Father Dollen went on to spend most of his life serving at parishes either in his home city or in the suburbs surrounding it. He grew up worshipping at Immaculate Conception Parish and studied at both Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Good Counsel schools, both in Rochester, before completing his seminary studies at St. Andrew and St. Bernard seminaries, also in Rochester.
“He had a deep faith all the way through seminary, and of course beyond,” remarked Msgr. Gerard Krieg, who met Father Dollen during their first year at St. Andrew’s Seminary.
Father Dollen was ordained by Bishop James E. Kearney on June 6, 1953, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester. After ordination, he became assistant pastor at Rochester’s Holy Rosary Parish from 1953-57 and then at Rochester’s St. Francis Xavier Parish from 1957-65. He then spent a year as assistant pastor at St. Salome Parish in Irondequoit followed by a six-year term as assistant pastor at Holy Ghost Parish in Gates.
In 1972, he took on his first pastorate at St. Andrew Parish in Rochester and served there until 1980. That year, he left the city to become pastor at St. John of Rochester Parish in Fairport. Under his leadership, the parish constructed a new church as well as a parish hall.
In 1990, Father Dollen left the Fairport parish to become pastor at St. Christopher Parish in North Chili, where he remained until he reached senior status in 1998. He continued to help out at parishes on Monroe County’s west side for the next two decades.
“He certainly kept busy well into retirement,” Msgr. Krieg said of his former classmate. “I do know that he was a very popular priest. He could be very pensive at times, and yet he was always present to people.”
Father Dollen is survived by his brother, Edward (Beverly) Kelly; nieces and nephews, John (Karen) Kelly, Bernard (Susan) Kelly, Cecilia Kelly (Steven) Maffett, Charles (Mary Jane) Kelly, Mary Catherine (Joseph) VanderLinden, Edward J. Kelly and Karen Kelly (Eric) Bunton; many great-nieces and great-nephews; and many dear friends.
Father Dollen will lie in state Oct. 20, 2021, from 3 to 6 p.m. at St. Pius Tenth Church, 3000 Chili Ave., Rochester. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano will preside over vespers at 6 p.m. Bishop Matano also will preside at Father Dollen’s funeral liturgy, which will take place Oct. 21, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Pius Tenth. Interment will be at St. Pius Cemetery.
Contributions may be made in Father Dollen’s memory to the Diocese of Rochester Priest Retirement Fund, 1150 Buffalo Road, Rochester, NY 14624.