St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fredericksburg, Va., was the destination of a retreat I facilitated in January 2010. The parish has 4,100 families and is located in one of the most historical areas of our country. The local residents take great delight in naming those who once lived there, and talking about what events happened that played a pivotal role in shaping much of our nation. As I listened, I couldn’t help but think about my home state of North Dakota and its beginnings as a “territory,” then as “state,” and the humble beginnings of our “Catholic heritage.”
The thoughts are appropriate, since here in the Diocese of Bismarck, we are about to kick off the celebration of our centennial as a diocese and recalling and appreciating the “characters” who shaped us, planting the “seeds” of citizenship” and, more importantly, our faith. The event will take place in Bismarck on June 11, 12, and 13. It offers us here in North Dakota, including here at my parish, St. John the Apostle in Minot, the opportunity to celebrate our history, while “beginning a new chapter” for ourselves and those that follow us.