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Monsignor Joseph Senger

Nov 21, 2020

Mar. 19, 1929 – Nov. 9, 2020


Joseph Senger, 91, a priest

of the Fargo Diocese of

North Dakota, died Nov.

9, 2020, in a Minot hospi-

tal. Since his retirement

from active priesthood in

2000, he continued to

maintain a variety of ac-

tivities in Minot where he

lived until his death. He

spent the last three and a

half years as a resident of

Somerset Court, saying

Mass there daily.

Joseph Phillip Senger

was born March 19, 1929,

at Orrin, ND, a son of

Joseph and Elizabeth

(Thomas) Senger. He liked

telling people that his ac-

tual birthplace was at

Kandel, ND. But the

town’s name was changed

to Orrin. Orrin and the

farm life he grew up in be-

came the subject of count-

less church homilies he

offered later as a priest.

He was proud of Orrin

and of his Germans from

Russia heritage. The latter

enhanced his language

skills that later became

useful during a stretch he

spent in Europe.

His early education was

at Balta, a community

near Orrin. While very

young, he decided that he

wanted to be a priest. So

his parents sent him to

Assumption Abbey in

Richardton, ND. He gra-

duated from there in

1946. He attended St.

John’s University in Col-

legeville for two years. He

went to St. Paul Seminary

in St. Paul, Mn., for his

last two years of college

and four more years of

seminary training. He was

ordained a priest on June

13, 1954, at St. Mary’s

Cathedral in Fargo, ND.

His first assignment was

as pastor at St. Mark’s Par-

ish in Bottineau, ND.

Two years later he was

assigned to serve as secre-

tary to Archbishop

Aloisius Muench, then of

Fargo, who had been

chosen by Pope Pius XII

as the apostolic nuncio to

Germany. The pair lived

at the embassy in Bonn,

Germany. Father Senger

also served as a chaplain

at an American military

unit. He spent almost four

years in Germany and

another year and a half in

Rome after Muench was

named a cardinal. Father

Senger met Pope Pius XII,

Pope John XXIII, Pope

Paul VI when he was still

a cardinal, and Pope John

Paul II.

In 1960 he returned to

North Dakota, eager to be-

come a pastor. He

couldn’t see himself con-

tinuing as a professional

priest in Rome. His first

assignment was as pastor

of St. Arnold’s Parish in

Milnor and St. Vincent’s

Parish in Stirum which

also served Gwinner. Suc-

cessive assignments were

at St. Mary’s Parish in

Knox and St. Ann’s in

Fillmore, St. Mary’s in

Grand Forks, and, from

July 1985 to July 2000

when he retired, as pastor

at St. Cecilia’s in Velva

and Sts. Peter and Paul’s

Parish in Karlsruhe.

In addition to his work

as a pastor, he was direc-

tor of the Propagation of

the Faith for forty years in

the Fargo Diocese, dean-

ery director of vocations,

director of religious edu-

cation at St. James Educa-

tion Center in Grand

Forks, dean of Deanery II

and Deanery VII. He

maintained a prison min-

istry for the North Dakota

Council of Churches and

served on the College of

Consulters for the Fargo

Diocese. He was a spiri-

tual director for Marriage

Encounter, Search and

Cursillo. He served as

state spiritual director for

the Catholic Order of

Foresters and the Catholic

Daughters of the Ameri-

cas. After retirement, he

was a substitute pastor in

many parishes, including

Minot Air Force Base. He

also served as a chaplain

at Trinity Hospital in


He visited mission sta-

tions in Kenya, Africa,

Guatemala, Venezuela,

Bolivia and Honduras.

He was a member of the

Foresters, and a Fourth

Degree member of the

Knights of Columbus.

Survivors: sisters,

Christine Axtmann and

Jenny Lemer, and brother,

Nick Senger and his wife

Bernie, all of Rugby.

He was preceded in

death by his parents;

brothers, Anton, Edward,

Pete and infant Adam; sis-

ter, Elizabeth Burgard;

sisters-in-law, Regarda

Senger and Julia Senger;

brothers-in-law, Tom Bur-

gard, Peter Lemer and

Fred Axtmann.

Visitation: Wednesday,

November 18, 2020, from

noon until 2 pm at

Thompson-Larson Fun-

eral Home, Minot, and

from 5 until 7 pm at St.

Therese of Little Flower

Catholic Church, Rugby,

ND with a vigil at 7 in the

church. Visitation also

took place from 10 am un-

til noon on Thursday, No-

vember 19, 2020 at the


Mass of Christian Buri-

al: Due to the Corona

Virus/Covin-19 pandemic,

there will be a Funeral

Mass on Thursday at 1

pm for family and fellow

priests at St. Therese of

Little Flower Catholic

Church, Rugby, ND.

The service will be

live-streamed and avail-

able to view at be ac-

cessed by going to




Graveside Service:

Thursday, November 19,

2020, 3:30 pm, Sacred

Heart Catholic Cemetery,


Memorials are pre-

ferred to St. Therese the

Little Flower church at


Thompson-Larson Fun-

eral Home at Minot com-

pleted funeral arrange-


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