Introducing the New Executive Director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference
By David Tamisiea
North Dakota Catholic Conference
I am honored and grateful to Bishop Kagan and Bishop Folda for choosing me to serve as the next executive director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference. I am also indebted to my predecessor, Christopher Dodson, who continues to serve as co-director and general counsel for the Conference during this transition period, and to my associate, Stacey Pfliiger, both of whom have been a tremendous help to me.
My wife, Seana, and I live in Bismarck with our six children. Years ago, a priest friend bluntly told me that I was not called to be a priest, but rather “you should marry that girl (Seana).” It was the best advice I ever received, and Seana and I have now been married for over 20 years. Our family has struck roots in North Dakota, and we love the rock-solid Catholic community here.
I grew up in a Catholic family in Omaha, Nebraska. My father was a professor and dean at Creighton University Dental School for over 50 years, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom until the children were out of the house. My mother later became a successful fundraiser and headed up the Office of Stewardship and Development of the Archdiocese of Omaha for many years. My parents taught us that faith and family are the two most important things in life.
I attended the University of Notre Dame where I double-majored in pre-medicine and psychology and, for a short time, was a walk-on running back on the varsity football team. After college, I did two years of full-time volunteer work, helping underprivileged youth in a poor area in Arizona, serving the homeless at a Catholic Worker House in Phoenix, and teaching and coaching football at my old high school back in Nebraska. During this period, I also got involved in prolife activity in Omaha by starting a high school prolife club and praying weekly outside an area abortion clinic. Eventually, I went to the University of Texas Law School and then went on to practice law for 10 years in Dallas, Texas.
While in Dallas, I was appointed as a trustee of the St. Thomas More Society, the Catholic lawyers’ guild in Dallas, and became involved in a group called the Young Serrans of Dallas. As a Young Serran, my faith grew tremendously as I got involved in Bible studies, Catechism studies, retreats, Eucharistic Adoration, street evangelization, apologetics, and ecumenical dialogue with non-Catholic Christians.
Ever since I attended World Youth Day in Denver in 1993, Pope John Paul II has been my hero and inspiration. When John Paul invited Catholics to prepare for the Great Jubilee of 2000 by revisiting the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, I responded by reading and studying all the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Not long after, my wife and I made the prayerful decision for me to leave law and pursue graduate studies in Catholic theology at Ave Maria University.
I obtained a PhD in theology from Ave Maria, with a major in systematic theology, a minor in moral theology, and a focus in ecclesiology. After completing my graduate studies, I taught theology at Ave Maria and then later at the University of Mary, where I eventually became Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences.
I would describe myself as a faithful, orthodox Catholic, who is committed both to the life issues and to caring for the poor and marginalized. I love the Church and want others to love the Church too. I am passionate about the Church’s teachings and have a deep desire to share these teachings with others. Serving as Executive Director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference is in many ways a dream job for me because it calls upon me to utilize my skills, training, experience, and interests, all in service to Christ and his Church. I eagerly look forward to advocating for the Church in North Dakota for years to come.
What We Do
The North Dakota Catholic Conference acts on behalf of the Roman Catholic bishops of North Dakota to respond to public policy issues of concern to the Catholic Church and to educate Catholics and the general public about Catholic social doctrine.