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Sherri Richards, Published September 28 2007

New Catholic bishop named for northwest Minnesota; Bishop Balke to retire to Moorhead

CROOKSTON, Minn. – As a young seminary student, Monsignor Mike Foltz watched the ordination of Bishop Victor Balke.

Thirty-one years later, the bishop is joining Foltz’s flock. Balke is retiring to Moorhead, and will be part of St. Joseph Catholic Church.

“It’ll take a little getting used to,” said Foltz, the parish’s pastor.

Pope Benedict XVI announced today he had accepted Balke’s resignation.

“I consider this to be the pope’s birthday gift to me,” said Balke, who turns 76 Saturday.

The pope also named Balke’s successor as bishop of the 14-county Diocese of Crookston: the Very Rev. Michael Hoeppner, vicar general of the Diocese of Winona, Minn.

Balke will serve as apostolic administrator, overseeing the diocese until Hoeppner officially becomes bishop. Hoeppner’s ordination is scheduled for Nov. 30.

“I will be a pastoral bishop. I will be out with the people,” Hoeppner said. “From what I’ve seen so far, it’s a blessed diocese.”

For the entire story, read Saturday’s Forum.