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Appointment of Msgr. Folda makes three

When Msgr. John Folda is ordained as the bishop of Fargo, N.D., in June, he'll be the third native son of the Archdiocese of Omaha currently leading one of the almost 200 dioceses in the country.

An Omaha native, Msgr. Folda joins Spokane Bishop Blasé Cupich, also of Omaha, and Grand Island Bishop William Dendinger, who was born in Coleridge, as members of the episcopacy in the United States.

Msgr. Folda was ordained as a priest of the Lincoln Diocese, while Bishops Cupich and Dendinger were ordained as priests for the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Of course, other archdiocese natives have been named bishops, serving in Omaha, Grand Island, around the country and even around the world, including Bishop Anthony Milone, who returned to his native Omaha in retirement and is in residence at St. Bernadette Parish in Bellevue. He had served as auxiliary bishop in Omaha, and then led the the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings for 19 years.

Although I don't have the national statistics, it would seem several bishops currently serving around the country might be natives of dioceses such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. But on a "per Catholic in the diocese" basis, I'd have to believe the Archdiocese of Omaha would rank fairly high.

Regardless of any ranking significance, however, having three bishops from this archdiocese says something of importance ... something about our communities, our schools, our parishes and, most important, our families.

These three men were blessed with a strong network that supported them in their faith journeys and in their vocation. And that support no doubt began at home.

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

Learning about our faith can take many forms and come through many sources - books, videos, speakers, special classes, seminars and the like. Often the most profound faith formation comes at a personal level - casual conversations with friends or family.

And sometimes, the "teachers" aren't clergy or theologians ... or even adults. They are children in our lives. And that perhaps explains the different perspective they bring to their faith and how they understand it.

That has been and continues to be the case with my 4-year-old grandson, Nolan.

Nolan is the grandchild who as a 2-year-old brought the entire family into prayerful focus, even amidst the craziness of lunch preparations - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, fruit and cups of milk - for a dozen or so grandkids. Then, it was a matter of just sitting quietly in a booster chair, his hands folded, waiting for some of the adults to finally get the message. We did.

Now, as a pre-schooler, he's a little more vocal.

On a recent lunch time visit to our home with his mom and sister, Nolan asked to lead the meal prayer. Fully expecting the Catholic standard, his mom and my wife made the Sign of the Cross, bowed their heads and waited for him to begin.

Silence. Then Nolan spoke ... not saying the prayer, but asking a question.

"Can I say the fruit prayer?"

The fruit prayer? Nolan's mom and dad had been working with him on several prayers, but even my daughter was a bit puzzled about what prayer he would say.

"Hail Mary," he said, "full of grace. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the 'fruit' of your womb."

Well, that's simple enough ... and straightforward, too. Nolan might not be connecting with all the faith aspects of the prayer, but he certainly has a great way to remember it.

Makes me wonder if any of those Nebraska native bishops had their own "fruit prayer" when they were young. I'd have to believe they did.

Deacon Randy A. Grosse is editor and general manager of the Catholic Voice and can be contacted at ragrosse@archomaha.org.

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