Remembering Father William Sherman

Father Sherman

The Rev. William “Bill” Sherman, former lecturer in philosophy & religion and priest for the UND Newman Center, passed away May 4, 2022, at Valley Senior Living on Columbia in Grand Forks. He was 94.

He was a priest of the Diocese of Fargo; former pastor of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks, and prominent religious leader.

William Charles Sherman was born on July 8, 1927, in Detroit, Mich., to William A. and Ellen K. (Lynch) Sherman. He attended grade school in Salem, Ore., and high school in Bryson, N.C., graduating from St. Francis High School in Hankinson, N.D.

William enlisted in the United States Army on July 26, 1946, at Fort Snelling, Minn. He served as a Supply Clerk with the 1st Cavalry Division during the occupation of the Philippines and Japan. He was honorably discharged from military service on December 9, 1947, at Fort Lawton, Washington.

He went on to graduate from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Philosophy. It was while attending St. John’s that he began discerning his vocation to the priesthood. He attended St. John’s Seminary in Collegeville and graduated with a Master of Divinity degree. William was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest for the Diocese of Fargo on June 11, 1955, and served as a priest for 66 years. Fr. Sherman offered his first Mass at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Lidgerwood, N.D. In 1965, he earned a Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of North Dakota.

Fr. Sherman served as a Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo, ND and St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center at the University of North Dakota. He served as Pastor of St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Verona, ND, St. Paul’s Newman Center at North Dakota State University, St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Alice, ND, Our Lady of the Scapular’s Catholic Church in Sheldon, ND, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Enderlin, ND, National Chaplain to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Pastor of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks, ND from 1976 until his retirement in 2003. While Director of St. Paul’s Newman Center, Fr. Sherman taught Sociology of Religion and Sociology of the Great Plains at North Dakota State University.

Best known as Pastor of St. Michael’s Church in Grand Forks, Fr. Sherman authored several books. He and five other authors co-wrote Plains Folk: North Dakota’s Ethnic History, in 1988. Another, Scattered Steeples is a historical perspective of the Diocese of Fargo. Twenty years after the publication went out of print, he along with Fr. Leo Stelton, edited a new edition, Scattered Steeples Expanded. This work is a “panoramic view” of the church from sod-house masses to the grand liturgies of the “cathedral-like city churches.”

Fr. Sherman was named a Professor Emeritus of Sociology at North Dakota State University. In 2003, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate degree from the University of Mary. On May 17, 2014, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate degree from the University of North Dakota. This honor is given to celebrate someone who has spent many years in a specific field. Fr. Sherman was nominated by the Department of Sociology.

Fr. Sherman was held in high regard and will be deeply missed by his brother priests, former parishioners and students, friends and the people of Grand Forks. A special thanks to Myrna Dyrdal for the kind care given to Fr. Sherman in his later years.

He is survived by his brother, Fr. Edward Sherman, Grand Forks, and relatives.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Sr. Ann Sherman, O.S.F.

In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to St. Michael’s Sanctuary Fund or the Fr. Sherman Scholarship Fund at St. Michael’s Catholic School, 418 North 6th Street, Grand Forks, ND 58203.

Mass of Christian Burial: 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Grand Forks, ND.

Visitation: 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, May 9, 2022, with a 6:30 p.m. Prayer of the Divine Chaplet and Rosary Service in St. Michael’s Catholic Church. Wake Service at 7 p.m. Visitation will continue for one hour prior to the liturgy in the church on Tuesday.

Fargo Visitation: 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in the Cathedral of St. Mary, Fargo, ND.

Burial: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Calvary Cemetery, Lidgerwood, ND.

Military Honors: Accorded by members of the American Legion Post 157, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3817 and the North Dakota Army National Guard.

To view the livestream Funeral Mass, please go to

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