This parish was transferred to the Bismarck diocese from Fargo

Bismarck, N.D., Aug 23, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Earlier this year, St. John parish in Lansford, N.D., was formally transferred from the Diocese of Fargo to the Diocese of Bismarck. The bishops of both dioceses said Mass at the church on Sunday to mark the change and to celebrate with parishioners.

“The fraternal love of Catholics of North Dakota is symbolized in this wonderful parish,” Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck said during his homily at the Aug. 19 Mass.

“There's a beauty to this demonstrating the friendship and respect between two bishops who were friends and priests of the Fargo Diocese before being named bishop … This historical day is a sign of our mutual love and respect for one another and abiding love and faith in our Almighty God.”

Priests of the Bismarck diocese had been serving the parish since 1949.

Sonia Mullally wrote in the August issue of Dakota Catholic Action that “After the change, which officially took effect on May 20, approximately 255 square miles were added to the Bismarck Diocese.”

Lansford is located in Bottineau County, 140 miles north of Bismarck.

When the Bismarck diocese was established in 1909 out of territory of the Fargo diocese, Fargo retained Bottineau County.

After the transfer of St. John's parish and its territory, most of the county remains part of the Diocese of Fargo.

The Diocese of Bismarck serves western North Dakota, while the eastern half of the state is included in the Fargo diocese.

“In truth, not much changes for the members of St. John. As usual, they will see Fr. Adam Maus at the altar each week. Many of them possibly didn’t even realize that they were a Fargo Diocese parish being served by their neighboring diocese,” Mullally wrote.

The change is rooted in the acknowledgement in 1949 by the pastor of St. Andrew parish in Westhope, Bottineau County, that as he aged, he could no longer manage the travel to Lansford, “especially during the long North Dakota winters.”

The then-bishops of Bismarck and Fargo agreed that priests of the Bismarck diocese “would take over providing for the pastoral and sacramental needs of the parishioners of St. John in Lansford.”

For more than 60 years, priests from Minot served St. John's; more recently, the pastoral care has been taken over by those at St. Jerome in Mohall.

The anomaly was noted by Bishop Kagan in 2012.

At the time, he was also serving as apostolic administrator of the Fargo diocese, following the transfer of Bishop Samuel Aquila to the Archdiocese of Denver.

When Bishop John Folda was appointed to Fargo the next year, Bishop Kagan informed him of the situation.

“A few years later, a more formal conversation began and got the ball rolling to make St. John an official parish of the Diocese of Bismarck,” according to the Bismarck diocese.

The discussion took 18 months, and paperwork for the transfer was submitted to the Congregation of Bishops. The congregation approved of the change in boundaries Jan. 13.

Lansford became a station in 1902, with Masses said in homes. St. John's was build in 1906, and dedicated the following year. A new church was built in 1963.

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