Monsignor Allan Nilles

monsignor allan nilles
Monsignor Allan F. Nilles, a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Fargo, passed away on October 31, 2018 at Eventide’s Sheyenne Crossing in West Fargo where he lived for the past ten years. A Prayer Service will be offered on November 5th at 7:00 P.M. with visitation starting at 5:00 P.M. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on November 6th at 10:30 A.M. with visitation starting at 9:30 A.M. all at the Church of the Nativity in Fargo. Father Nilles was 94 when he died. Father Nilles, ordained as a priest on June 11, 1949, spent almost 70 years ministering to the needs of several generations of families and parishioners in eastern North Dakota. His assignments included serving for 14 years as the Rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo (from 1969-1983) and for 15 years as Pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Park River and St. Patrick’s Church in Crystal (1983-1998). He also served for five years as the associate pastor of St. James Church in Jamestown (1949-1955), for five years as the Chancellor of the Diocese (1955-1960), and for ten years as the Vicar General of the Diocese (1960-1970). As Chancellor, he accompanied then Archbishop Aloisius Joseph Muench to Rome for his investiture as a Cardinal and was part of a small group to meet Pope John XXIII. Father Nilles was given the title of “Monsignor” in 1961 at the recommendation of Bishop Leo Dworschak while serving as the Vicar General. After his retirement in 1998 at age 75, he continued to assist at Nativity Church and other parishes in the Fargo Moorhead area. Father Nilles was well known throughout North Dakota—by Catholics and non-Catholics alike—for his musical talents. He was a long-time member of the Fargo Kiwanis Club, and played piano for their meetings for 33 years. He also entertained at a variety of other gatherings in Fargo and elsewhere. As a student at Catholic University in Washington DC in the 1940s, Allan provided organ music for masses at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Father Nilles was preceded in death by his parents, Hebert G. and Justine Nilles, as well as by two brothers, Herbert G. Nilles, Jr. and J. Gerald Nilles, and two sisters, Dorothy (Nilles) Smith and Margaret (Nilles) Mitten. He leaves behind numerous cousins, nephews and nieces, as well as many dear friends. Burial will be in the family plot at Holy Cross Cemetery North. Memorials can be given to Nativity Church of Fargo or to the Diocese of Fargo.

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Memories Timeline


  1. I loved this man. He was so kind, caring and wasn’t afraid to stop by to console his parishioners in their dark hours. He was a great musician. So many talents. Such a wonderful soul. Heaven will be happy to welcome him home.

  2. I was fortunate enough to hear Monsignor Nilles play his piano just over a month before he died. In his mid-90s, Allan was playing ‘Up A Lazy River’ along with some other great tunes just perfectly. He’d also been practicing some classical pieces such as ‘The Blue Danube’ by Strauss. T’was such a pleasure to watch him play piano and visit a bit. Thankfully, there are pianos in heaven :o)

  3. He touched the lives of every one who knew him. Words cannot describe his greatness I cannot express the loss
    I feel knowing I cannot talk with him again. My sympathy to his family and the hundreds of people who will miss him. Joy Jalbert Lucido

  4. Msgr. Nilles had a profound impact on my life. If not for him, I am not sure I would be in church today. His encouragement and support led me into many lay ministries and taught me what it means to live out the Gospel messages. I have heard people speak about being touched by the finger of God. When Msgr. Nilles entered my life, I felt the hand of God.

    Joseph M. Di Cola

    Troy, OH

  5. he was a kind and gentle man & priest. may he rest in peace after his life work in for God.
    matt & sharon wolf

  6. Msgr. Nilles was not only our Parish Priest in Park River but a good friend of our family. He officiated at our son’s funeral in 1987. He also came back to Park River in 2001 and officiated at my youngest son’s wedding with the Parish priest on Park River.The Alkofer family has many fond memories of Msgr. Nilles. May he rest in Peace.

  7. Such a great man! He was always there for my parents, especially mom during her final two years. I was an altar boy at many of his Masses while at St. Mary’s. He will be missed.

  8. thinking of you Nilles; I have such great memories of your uncle. He was often at your house when I would stop over. I last saw him briefly with Kathleen in 2014 I believe. I send you my deepest condolences. love Mary Wolf

  9. A very unique man that was able to reach out with his kindness and humor. He always had a smile from eveyone and gave them hope. His life’s mission was to serve the people and he did that with grace and kindness. He was the true spirit of “a good Shepard”,

  10. Msgr Nilles taught my brother Mike and me at St John’s Academy in Jamestown, ND in the 50’s. We both sang in Msgr’s choir. He married Michelle and me in 1973 and he and I kept in regular contact throughout the years. He was a great friend and priestly colleague. His legacy remains.

  11. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Msgr. Allan F. Nilles. He was a very special person.

  12. Msgr. Niles was a wonderful priest, an exemplary disciple of Christ, a
    compassionate man and a fine musician!

    Our condolences to the family of Msgr. Niles.

    Charles and Barbara Ruzicka

  13. Msgr. Niles was a wonderful priest, an exemplary disciple of Christ,
    a compassionate man and a fine musician!
    Our condolences to the family of Msgr. Niles.

    Charles and Barbara Ruzicka

  14. We haven’t been at Nativity long, but Msgr Nilles was a wonderful presence. He always seemed to make Mass so serene, and he will be terribly missed. Heaven has gained a beautiful soul.

  15. Our condolences to the Nilles family on your loss of such a fine man, but it was a life well lived. Our father, George Smith went ahead to make sure things were set up for a reunion. Dad loved his piano playing and all he did for the Kiwanis. It was such a pleasant surprise when Dad moved to Sheyenne Crossing to discover Father Nilles was a resident there, too. His kindness to our entire family will never be forgotten.
    The Smith Family
    Scott and Deb (Nilles) Smith, Kent and Patty Smith
    Laurie and David Rott, Karen Rains and Dana Kroger

  16. What a wonderful loving man. He spent many, many hours while in Park River visiting my mother, father and oldest sister. He loved playing the piano on the farm!

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