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Pope Names New Bishop for Fargo Diocese - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Pope Names New Bishop for Fargo Diocese

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Pope Francis has appointed Monsignor John Thomas Folda as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, which serves more than 72,000 Catholics and 132 parishes and missions in the eastern half of North Dakota.

The Holy See made the announcement Monday at noon in Rome, 5 a.m. Fargo time. Bishop-elect Folda is one of the first U.S. Bishop appointments made by the new pope.

Folda took to the podium with thankfulness, humility and a little bit of humor Monday morning.

"I've already had offers of warm clothing from my friends at home. I've been assured that they have winter up here," he said.

Apart from the humor, the Bishop-elect said he knows his leadership means a lot. He is stepping proudly into the spotlight of national headlines following the passage of three anti-abortion bills.

Folda said, "My intention is simple to continue to encourage our people and those who are responsible for the public life of this state to make the defense the sanctity of life the paramount concern."

The defense of life is not foreign to him. He said that the three bishops in Nebraska have all worked with lawmakers to advance the cause.

While he is not the outspoken Archbishop Aquila, the Bishop-elect said he will not sit back and watch on any issue. "When I'm able to, I'll certainly be ready and willing to make public statements as well."

That is a leadership approach the Diocese of Fargo has been waiting for. Bryan Thiry, a FOCUS Missionary at NDSU says, "I think he will be bold when he has to be and speak with a voice of the Church when it is needed."

Folda said it is a challenging era to share and have people accept beliefs, but he says that has been a challenge since the Catholic Church started. So while the issues are important, he says now is the time for him to learn.

"My immediate plan is to simply get to know you and get to know our good diocese as soon as possible to be of service in any way I can."

Bishop-elect Folda will be the eighth Bishop of Fargo. He succeeds Bishop Samuel Aquila, who was named Archbishop of Denver on May 29, 2012. Bishop David Kagan, Bishop of Bismarck, has served as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Fargo since Archbishop Aquila was installed in Denver on July 18, 2012. He continues as Apostolic Administrator until the episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect Folda, which is expected to take place in the second half of June.

A priest of the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., Bishop-elect Folda currently serves as Rector of St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Neb.

Bishops who previously served the Diocese of Fargo include: Bishop John Shanley, 1889-1909; Bishop James O'Reilly, 1910-1934; Bishop Aloisius J. Muench, 1935-1959; Bishop Leo F. Dworschak, 1960-1970; Bishop Justin A. Driscoll, 1970-1984; Bishop James S. Sullivan, 1985-2002; and Bishop Samuel J. Aquila, 2002-2012.

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