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Cardinal Burke to visit North Dakota

U.S. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke takes part in an anti-abortion march in Rome on May 13, 2012.

Western North Dakota will receive its first public visit by a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church when Cardinal Raymond Burke hosts a private retreat for 40 priests with the Bismarck Diocese on Sunday at the Assumption Abbey in Richardton.

Burke's trip is the first official public visit to western North Dakota since Cardinal Joseph Bernardin went to the University of Mary in August 1992 for Summerfest -- a private event for priests and deacons of the Catholic Church, said Matthew Kurtz, director of communications for the Diocese of Bismarck.

Prior to the private retreat, Burke will conduct an 11:30 a.m. public Mass on Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, in honor of the Feast of Corpus Christi.

"Cardinal Burke's visit is, indeed, the first official public visit of a cardinal to the Diocese of Bismarck since it was erected in 1910," Kurtz said.

Msgr. Patrick Schumacher from St. Wenceslaus in Dickinson, who is director of continuing education for clergy in the Bismarck Diocese and will head the retreat, said Burke's visit is an honor.

"He, as a cardinal, is certainly one of the great leaders and representatives of the church," Schumacher said. "Cardinal Burke's perspective as a prince of the church is a time we are all anticipating ahead of the retreat."

Rev. Kregg Hochhalter, parochial vicar at St. Wenceslaus and chaplain and instructor at Trinity High School, will be a first-time retreat attendee.

"You don't find a cardinal of the church on every street corner, so this is a gift to me as a young priest," said Hochhalter, who was the first priest ordained by Bismarck Diocese Bishop David Kagan a year ago Friday. "I have much respect for Cardinal Burke and for what he does for the church. He's a pious, intelligent and virtuous man."

Burke, who currently resides in Rome and previously served as the archbishop of the diocese in St. Louis and bishop of La Crosse, Wis., Diocese has a connection to North Dakota's Catholics through Kagan, who was a seminary classmate of Burke's while studying in Rome.

"I asked the cardinal if he would be willing to lead us in our celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi and he very graciously agreed," Kagan said. "I'm especially grateful to him because I know he is in great demand around the world to speak and offer conferences on many different topics."

Burke's visit to the state is more than "just a very joyous event," Kagan said.

"It's a historic moment for all of us who are Catholic in North Dakota," he said. "It is something that I hope will strengthen the faith-life of all of us."

The faith-strengthening process doesn't end with Burke's departure, though. It will be followed up with an appearance by Cardinal Timothy Dolan this fall.

Dolan will be in Bismarck from Oct. 25-27 to participate in THIRST 2013 -- a Eucharistic conference at the Bismarck Civic Center sponsored by the Bismarck Diocese in cooperation with the University of Mary.

Anyone from the public who wishes to see the cardinals and participate in either the Corpus Christi celebration or the Eucharistic conference should complete a free registration at under the events tab.