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Young priest chosen next University of Mary president

N.D. Capitol Bureau Photo by Janell Cole University of Mary students Aaron Knoll, left, and Derek Weigand congratulate the Rev. James Shea Friday after he was named the university's next president. Knoll and Weigand and knew Shea when they were students at St. Mary's Central High School in Bismarck, where Shea was formerly an instructor and chaplain

BISMARCK -- A 33-year-old parish priest will be the new president of the Univerity of Mary come July 1.

The Rev. James Shea will take the post held now by Sister Thomas Welder, who has been president since 1978. Sister Welder announced in May that she would retire next year.

Shea is now serving St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Killdeer, and its mission church, St. Paul's in Halliday and teaches at Trinity High School in Dickinson.

He grew up on a dairy farm at Hazelton, southeast of Bismarck.

He went to Jamestown College for two years before entering seminary for the Bismarck Diocese in 1995.

Martin White, chairman of the university's board of trustees, said Shea was chosen from among 22 applicants.

The University of Mary, located several miles south of Bismarck, was started in 1959 by the sisters of the neighboring Annunciation Monastery and now has several satellite campuses, including Fargo.