Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in rural Dunseith was destroyed by fire in December 2005. Fargo Bishop Samuel Aquila announced in his July 11 letter that, rather than rebuild the destroyed parish, a new, combined parish will be created in the St. Louis Catholic Church building at 112 1st St. NW, Dunseith. To emphasize this union of the two parishes – St. Louis and Immaculate Heart of Mary – St. Louis parish will be “suppressed,” allowing for a new parish under a new name to operate within the current St. Louis building.
Bishop Aquila recommended that the new parish be named “Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha to honor the young Native American who embraced the Catholic faith and witnessed to it by a life of holiness even in the midst of persecution.” He noted that the priests serving the joined parishes will work with the new pastoral council to decide whether other names should also be considered.
Once Bishop Aquila has confirmed a new name for the parish, he will travel to Dunseith to celebrate Mass in honor of the establishment of the parish. He noted that several practical matters will need to be decided based upon the advice of the new finance and pastoral councils, including care and maintenance of cemeteries, evangelization, spiritual care, education, selection of parish leadership and other matters.
“There are many wonderful challenges and opportunities that exist which I know will be met with faith and enthusiasm through the active participation of the Dunseith Catholic community,” Bishop Aquila wrote. “I look forward to being with you to celebrate the creation of the new parish and our unity in Christ.”
Bishop Aquila noted that the decision was not an easy one to make. “Coming to clear discernment as to the future of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish and St. Louis Parish has been a challenging task,” he wrote. “I have pondered over the decision for many days through both great prayer and much consultation. There are many reasons for the decision I have come to, but the primary reasons are the closeness in distance of the two churches, Christ’s desire for communities of the faithful to be one with Him in the Eucharist, and the long term historical relationship between the two parishes. In this spirit of oneness, my decision, which I believe is inspired by the Holy Spirit, will create a stronger Catholic faith community, more vibrant and meaningful liturgies, and will enable the sharing of your faith, your lives and your resources, both spiritual and material.”