It was no surprise that a huge number of St. Anne’s residents turned out to greet Bishop John T. Folda on Wednesday, September 9th.
Bishop Folda is only 54 years old but he displays the wisdom, courtesy and kindness of a man well beyond his years. As he arrived at St. Anne’s and was introduced by Sr. Rebecca to all of us who were anxiously awaiting him, he stepped forward and personally greeted each and every individual, awaiting their name or their requests for a blessing or a prayer.
For those of you who do not know his background, our Bishop was born in Omaha, Nebraska, attended Catholic schools and graduated in 1979. He then, enrolled in the University of Nebraska and studied architecture and electrical engineering. By 1983, Folda attended seminary in Philadelphia, graduating with a B.A. in Philosophy in 1985. His decision was to continue Theological Studies at St. Charles and he earned a Master of Divinity in 1988 plus a Master of Arts in Theology in 1989.
Bishop Folda was ordained a priest for the Lincoln Diocese by Bishop Flavin in May 1989. For the next two years, he went on serve as Parochial Vicar at Cathedral of the Risen Christ and teach religion in high school. In 1991, he was sent to the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome, where he earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology. Upon his return in 1993, the Diocese of Lincoln assigned him as pastor of two churches, and he served as the Assistant to the Vicar General of the Lincoln Diocese, a board member of Nebraska Catholic Conference, a guidance counselor and teacher of religion. Each of these, in itself, a tremendous task.
By 1995, while continuing his work at the diocesan office, Folda, was appointed to two more churches. Within two more years, he became Director of Diocesan Religious Education, Co-Vicar for Religious, Master of Ceremonies and Censor Libroram. At the same time, he was appointed Delegate of the Bishop to Madonna Rehab Hospital and continues as vice-president of the Board of Directors. Bishop Folda also sits on a number of other committees and boards, setting the standards for finance, social service, education and ethics.
By 1999, Bishop Folda was appointed Rector of St. Gregory the Great Seminary. From 2008 to 2010, he was president of the National Association of College Seminaries, and in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named him ‘Chaplain of His Holiness’, with the title of Monsignor. He was appointed Bishop of Fargo by Pope Francis in April 2013, and ordained and installed in June.
Part of the joy in celebrating this accomplished man taking time to meet, greet and have a photo opp with us here at St. Anne’s was the fact that he brought his assistant Fr. Matthew Kraemer, (originally of St. Mike’s) with him.
At that time, our own Chuck Gust and Fr. Matt put on their accordions and played polkas, waltzes and other songs. While we enjoyed ourselves dancing or toe tapping, Sr. Rebecca was able to slip Bishop Folda out for a tour of the building and introduce our nurses, dining staff, office assistants and care workers. But, the residents just kept coming.
Also, as the Bishop made his way to the lobby, members of the church community started to arrive for Adoration and he made himself available to meet and speak with them. Before he left, Bishop Folda asked that we pray for more young men and women to come to the consecrated life. Please remember to include our wonderful Bishop in your prayers