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Dave Olson, Published April 08 2013

VIDEO: Next Fargo Catholic bishop praises Legislature's 'strong stand for life'

FARGO – Monsignor John Thomas Folda, the newly appointed bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, said this morning he was impressed by the “strong stand for life” North Dakota lawmakers took in passing anti-abortion Legislation that has been the talk of the nation.

“I’m already proud of your commitment to the sanctity of life,” Bishop-elect John Thomas Folda said at a news conference in Fargo, shortly after it was announced that Pope Francis had appointed Folda bishop.

Folda, 51, who has been a priest for the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., succeeds Bishop Samuel Aquila, who was named Archbishop of Denver in May 2012.

Bishop-elect Folda now serves as rector of St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Neb.

Folda said he was stunned to be selected as bishop and said he couldn’t help “but feel a mixture of gratitude and humility” to be the first bishop appointed in the United States by the new pope.

“I’m thrilled and excited to come to North Dakota,” he said.

Folda’s episcopal ordination is expected to be in late June.

The Holy See announced Folda’s appointment at noon in Rome, or 5 a.m. Fargo time.

The Fargo Diocese serves more than 72,000 Catholics and 132 parishes and missions in the eastern half of North Dakota.

Folda will be the eighth bishop of Fargo.

Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck will continue to serve as apostolic administrator for the Fargo Diocese until Folda’ episcopal ordination.

Aquila said in a statement that Folda “is a man of deep faith, warm leadership, and unwavering fidelity to the teachings of the Church.”

According to a biography provided by the diocese:

Folda is the youngest of three children. He grew up in Omaha, where he attended St. Thomas More Grade School and Archbishop Ryan High School.

After graduating from high school in 1979, he attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he studied architecture and electrical engineering.

In August 1983, Folda entered seminary formation for the Diocese of Lincoln. He attended St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia and graduated in 1985 with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy.

He continued his theological studies at St. Charles Seminary, where he earned a master of divinity degree in 1988 and a master of arts in theology in 1989.

On May 27, 1989, Folda was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Lincoln by Bishop Glennon Patrick Flavin. For two years, he was parochial vicar at Cathedral of the Risen Christ, and was a teacher of religion at Pius X High School in Lincoln.

In 1991, Folda was sent to Rome, where he earned a licentiate in sacred theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas.

When he returned to the Diocese of Lincoln in 1993, he was assigned as pastor of St. Paulinus Church in Syracuse and Holy Trinity Church in Avoca. He was also guidance counselor and teacher of religion at Lourdes Central Catholic Schools in Nebraska City.

During this time, he also served as assistant to the vicar general of the Diocese of Lincoln.

In 1995, Folda was appointed pastor of St. Leo Church in Palmyra and St. Martin Church in Douglas, while continuing to work in the diocesan offices. In 1997, he was appointed diocesan director of religious education, co-vicar for religious, master of ceremonies, and censor librorum. He was also appointed delegate of the bishop to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and continues as vice president of the board of directors.

Folda has been a member of the board of the Nebraska Catholic Conference since 1993. He has also been a member of the Presbyteral Council, College of Consultors, Finance Council, Priests’ Continuing Education Committee, Catholic Social Services Board and the Ethics Committee of St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center.

In 1999, Folda was appointed rector of St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Neb. He served as president of the National Association of College Seminaries from 2008 to 2010.

On Oct. 10, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named him “Chaplain of His Holiness” with the title of monsignor.

About the Catholic Diocese of Fargo

The Rev. John Thomas Folda, who on Monday was named bishop-elect of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, will oversee a diocese composed of 30 counties that cover 35,786 square miles in eastern North Dakota. Here are a few more facts about the diocese from the Official Catholic Directory 2011:

•Established in 1889.

•Serves a Catholic population of 83,752 (22 percent of the total population).

•Has 141 priests (including active, retired and those serving outside of the diocesan area).

•Has 43 permanent deacons, 117 religious sisters and 132 parishes.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555