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Father Al Bitz

August 2, 1943 — November 21, 2023

Bismarck

Fr. Longinus “Al” Bitz was born August 2, 1943, to Mathias and Rose (Schwartzenberger) Bitz on a farm near Napoleon, ND, and baptized on August 8 at St. Anthony’s Church, rural Napoleon.  He was a life-long member of St. Philip Neri Church in Napoleon.  He was ordained a priest for the Church of Fargo on June 13, 1969, (Friday, the 13th) in Napoleon and entered the miracle of death on November 21, 2023.  He is the 7th child in a family of 16 children--10 boys and 6 girls.

Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 AM on Monday, November 27, 2023, at St. Philip Neri Church, Napoleon, ND, with Bishop John Folda presiding, Fr. Tim Schroeder as main celebrant, Fr. Phil Ackerman and Fr. Gerard Braun as principal concelebrants, and Fr. Dale Lagodinski as homilist.  Burial will be at the St. Philip Neri Cemetery, Napoleon, ND.

Visitation will be held from 2-4 PM on Sunday, November 26, 2023, at St. Philip Neri Church, Napoleon. The rosary will begin at 4 PM followed by the vigil and time of sharing.  Visitation will continue one hour prior to the service at the church.

He attended grade school at rural Starkey School District #1 and Assumption Abbey High School and Assumption College in Richardton, ND from 1957-1963.  After receiving his BA in philosophy and classical languages from St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, MN (1963-1969), he enrolled there for theological studies.  At the same time, he also enrolled at St. Thomas University, St. Paul, MN, and received his MA in teaching in 1968.  He was ordained to the priesthood on June 13, 1969 at Napoleon. He likes to note that he was baptized at St. Anthony’s Church (Napoleon), ordained on the feast of St. Anthony (June 13), served as pastor of St. Anthony (Fargo), and celebrated a Mass at St. Anthony's in Fargo for the first time on the feast of St Anthony. He also attended St. John's University, Collegeville, MN, studying Liturgy & Scripture in Jerusalem, 1981.

His first assignment was to New Rockford (1969-1971) where he served the parish of St. John’s and St. William’s in Maddock and taught at St. James High School.  He then served in Langdon-Osnabrock-Milton-Nekoma as an associate from 1971-1976, in St. Michael’s of Grand Forks from 1976-1978.  He then served as pastor of St. Anthony in Fargo from 1978-1983, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo from 1983-1993, St. Boniface in Wimbledon, St. Mary’s in Courtenay, St. John’s in Kensal from 1994-1996, St. Leo’s in Casselton, ND, and St. Thomas in Buffalo, ND from 1996-2003.  His last assignment was pastor of St. James Basilica in Jamestown, ND, and St. Michael’s in Pingree, ND, St. Margaret’s in Buchanan, ND, Sacred Heart in Fried, ND, and St. Mathias in Windsor, ND (2003-2014).  In his retirement, he worked for the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND (2014 – 2017).

He has nine brothers and six sisters: Hilary (Carol) Bitz, Ferdinand-deceased (Mathilda) Bitz, Margaret Bitz, Cecilia (Tom) Brown, Leonard-deceased (Marcy) Bitz, Vincent (Marjie) Bitz, Sebastian (Deb-deceased) Bitz, Alex (Joan-deceased) Bitz, Richard (Zelda) Bitz, Bernie Johnson (Calvin-deceased), Willie-deceased (Donna) Bitz, Monica (Ken-deceased) Watkins, Mathias Jr-deceased (Janice) Bitz, Marian (David) Gates, Sharon-deceased (George) Lawrence.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested in Father Al's name to benefit Friends of Chimbote, PO Box 717, West Fargo, ND, 58078; Churches United for the Homeless, 1901 1st Ave N, Moorhead, MN, 56560; or Daily Bread, c/o Great Plains Food Bank, 1720 3rd Ave. N, Fargo, ND, 58102.

 

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