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Visiting with Cardinal Burke: Revered Catholic leads retreat for 40 priests in Richardton

Msgr. Patrick Schumacher from St. Wenceslaus in Dickinson, left, who is director of continuing education for clergy in the Bismarck Diocese, speaks to Cardinal Raymond Burke Tuesday at Assumption Abbey, following morning prayers.

RICHARDTON - A prince of the Roman Catholic Church who conducted the first public visit of any cardinal in western North Dakota has been here visiting Assumption Abbey, where he is leading a retreat for 40 priests of the Bismarck Diocese.

"The priests are the ones who bring Christ's teachings directly to the people of the churches of the diocese, so we have spent our time meditating on the priestly life and commitment to their mission as priests," Cardinal Raymond Burke told The Dickinson Press following Tuesday's morning prayers at the Abbey.

But before Burke headed the private retreat, where he will continue his work through Friday, he conducted a public Mass Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, in honor of the Feast of Corpus Christi.

"I was impressed most by the participation of the people at the Mass and the procession that followed," Burke said. "The people remained with their children the whole time, and it was beautiful to see the strong, Catholic faith the people here have."

Burke's visit is the first official public visit by a cardinal 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.

Bishop of Bismarck David Kagan, who became friends with Burke in 1977 while the two were studying in Rome, said offering the formal invitation for Burke to come to North Dakota was an important act for all Catholics in North Dakota.

"This was not only a great historical moment because it was the first public visit by a cardinal to this part of the state, but it was also a great spiritual moment for all Catholics in North Dakota," he said.

"We had large crowds at the Corpus Christi Mass, and most of the

people stayed for the parade around the neighborhood and for the prayer hour afterward. I hope people who attended the Mass Sunday developed a

greater impulse and desire for their faith."

Msgr. Patrick Schumacher from St. Wenceslaus in Dickinson, who is director of continuing education for clergy in the Bismarck Diocese and who also headed, as well as attended, the retreat, said that to have Burke in his midst was an honor.

"There are only 117 men who can vote for the pope or become the next

Roman pontiff," Schumacher said. "This is the most elite group of men

in the world and Cardinal Burke is one of them."

Kagan said he hopes the priests participating in the retreat at the abbey are able to take in spiritual lessons from Burke.

"The cardinal is known for his great spirituality and we like for our

retreat masters to offer the priests practical and spiritual insights into the priest ministry and show how to translate those values into how we teach our people at church," Kagan said. "This is something all priests need. It's a time for reflection and pray and for the priests to recharge their batteries. It's a renewal of both body and soul, and we were lucky to be able to have the cardinal here with us."