LINCOLN — Pope Francis on Monday named a priest from the Diocese of Lincoln as the newest bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo in North Dakota.
Monsignor John Folda, 51, has been rector of St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Neb., since 1999. He will become the eighth bishop of the Fargo Diocese.
Folda, an Omaha native, attended St. Thomas More Grade School and Omaha Ryan High School. After graduating from high school in 1979, he attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he studied architecture and electrical engineering.
Folda said he was grateful to Pope Francis “for his trust and for the example of fatherly care and pastoral zeal” that he has shown as pontiff.
“As this is one of his first appointments of a bishop in the United States, it's apparent to me that the well-being of this diocese is very much on his mind,” Folda said at press conference Monday. “For that, I think we're all very grateful.”
In May 1989, Folda was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Lincoln. He served as a parochial vicar for two years at Cathedral of the Risen Christ and was a religion teacher at Pius X High School in Lincoln.
Folda went to Rome in 1991 for a two-year stay, and he earned a license in sacred theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas.
He then returned to Lincoln and was assigned as pastor of St. Paulinus Church in Syracuse and Holy Trinity Church in Avoca. During that time he also was a guidance counselor and religion teacher at Lourdes Central Catholic Schools in Nebraska City, as well as assistant to the vicar general of the Lincoln Diocese.
In 1999, Folda was appointed rector of St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward. On Oct. 10, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named him “chaplain of His Holiness” with the title of monsignor.
Folda has served on various councils and committees, including the board of the Nebraska Catholic Conference since 1993. He was president of the National Association of College Seminaries from 2008 to 2010.
Folda will succeed Samuel Aquila, who left the Fargo diocese last June to head the Archdiocese of Denver.
Aquila said in a statement that he offered “my sincere congratulations, my prayers and my friendship” to Folda, who he called “a man of deep faith, warm leadership and unwavering fidelity to the teachings of the church.”
Folda will be ordained as bishop in June.
Also Monday, Bishop Michael O. Jackels of Wichita, Kan., was named the new archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa.
The native of Rapid City, S.D., was ordained a priest of the Lincoln Diocese on May 30, 1981. During his time as a priest he served as the pastor of the University of Nebraska's Newman Center in Lincoln, assistant director of the diocese's vocations office and director of Hispanic ministry.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.
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