WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 29, 2012, 09:15 AM

Pope names Fargo's Aquila as the archbishop for Denver

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - There is a new Arch-Bishop in Denver, and he is Fargo's own Bishop Samuel Aquila.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - There is a new Arch-Bishop in Denver, and he is Fargo's own Bishop Samuel Aquila. The big announcement came from the Vatican this morning, and Bishop Aquila appeared before Denver media today. The appointment came from Pope Benedict.

Denver is home turf for Aquila. Before coming to Fargo, he served in the Denver diocese as a priest and seminary rector. He has been Bishop here in Fargo since 2001, and said he will miss the Great Plains.

Bishop Samuel Aquila – New Archbishop of Denver: “In my role as bishop of Fargo these past 11 years I became friends with North Dakota clergy. I will miss them with all my heart, where Christian faith and family are life are strong."

Aquila will be formally installed as Denver's Archbishop in July.

One thing is for sure - Bishop Aquila left a mark on the diocese. His flock never had to guess what he was thinking because he preached what he believed was right. From church doctrine to consolidating rural parishes, his time here was action packed.

Bishop Aquila is Fargo Diocese leader who leaves behind a legacy, where no one will ever ask Bishop What's His Name. Controversial - Yes. A Fence Sitter - No.

Today at St. Mary's in downtown Fargo Noon Mass Father Chad Wilhelm asked the congregation to include Bishop Aquila in prayers as he makes the journey back to Denver, now as an Archbishop.

Father Chad Wilhelm – St. Mary’s Cathedral: “We loved him and he loved us. One of the things we learned from Bishop Aquila is that he has been a man of conviction. Whatever he says he is going to do he does.”

Bishop Aquila was not afraid to rock the boat in this river city. He led the effort to restore and build $52 million in projects that included Sts Anne and Joachim, Shanley and work at St. Mary's and the Bishop's home. He appeared publicly in marches against abortion, and came out against the ACLU and other non-profits. Most recently he was a supporter of Measure 3. Many parishioners we talked to appreciated his risk of talking the talk and walking the walk.

Christal Hutchison – St. Mary’s Member: “He stands up for what he believes in and doesn't back down and has made me a stronger person.

Tony Trappen – St. Mary’s Member: “He spoke out and I really like that and I think that too often that is not being done when it should be done.”

Priests who closely worked with him say they learned from his leadership and convictions.

Father Luke Meyer – Fargo Diocese: “He was courageous in the public square, and letting others know not just his own private opinions, but what the church taught about matters in society.”

One of the biggest changes Aquila made was confirming children in the Diocese at a younger age, before their first communion, a move the Pope personally praised Aquila for.