Prayer for Vocations

In the Diocesan Priority Plan, Vocations is one of our foundational ministries and remains an important focus. An emphasis will be in promoting a culture of vocations, not only in the diocese as a whole, but in every parish and in every family. One of the core values in the Priority Plan is the family. Some of the behaviors under this value specifically address the truth that the seeds of a vocation to priesthood or consecrated life are grounded in family where couples are intentionally living their vocation to marriage. There has been much discussion regarding the need to increase the number of seminarians in order to maintain or even increase our current level of diocese.

To that end, it was felt that a new vocation prayer could assist in this endeavor. The new Prayer for Vocations reflects this focus in the Priority Plan and makes a connection to the mission statement of the diocese as well. Praying a new prayer gives us all the opportunity to pray these new words with a lively faith.

In time, they will be printed as prayer cards and made available in all parishes.

New Diocesan Prayer for Vocations

Invitation: We ask for God’s blessing on those discerning a vocation to priesthood, diaconate, marriage or consecrated life as we pray our Vocations Prayer:

Heavenly Father, Inflame our hearts with the fire of your love.
Inspire our families to eagerly say “yes” to the Holy Spirit,
as did Mary and Joseph.
Help our parishes become schools of prayer,
forming intentional disciples of Jesus who desire to live for him.

Assist us in building a culture of vocations,
creating an environment where all disciples
will seek your will for their lives.

Teach married couples to live their vocation
in the Spirit of Christ
so that their families may become a “domestic Church,”
reflecting the life of the Trinity.

Inspire young men and women to seek
a living encounter with your Son
so that they will courageously respond
to your call to priesthood or consecrated life,
giving themselves generously to the Church
in service of the Gospel.

We ask Mary, Mother of the Church and our Mother,
to intercede for us.

Pour out anew upon our diocese your Holy Spirit
and make us courageous witnesses of Christ’s love.
May our lives “attract and form intentional disciples
who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim and live
the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.”

We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Diocesan Priority Plan — December 2016

By Teresa Spiess

At the First Friday Luncheon on December 2, Bishop Robert Gruss talked to participants about the Strategic Plan that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has approved for 2017-2022 (

The December West River Catholic carried a brief story about the USCCB strategic plan on page 6: “U. S. Bishops’ strategic plan similar to diocesan priority plan.” What Bishop Gruss pointed out was the many connections between this plan, which he received at the USCCB meeting on November 15, and our own Diocesan Pastoral Priority Plan, which he published in his pastoral letter,

The USCCB plan is a reminder that the church is universal. We are connected by the mission of Jesus Christ with Catholics across our country. The common themes in the USCCB Strategic Plan and the Priority Plan of the Diocese of Rapid City are a source of hope and reassurance for our local church. We are in step with the wider church in America. Following our Priority Plan will help us to move forward in union with the church, inspired by the Holy Spirit, through the love of our Lord.

Structurally, the documents are a bit different. The USCCB plan has five strategic priorities, which are filled out with emphasis areas. The plan is backed up by operational plans for 34 committees, subcommittees and departments. The operational plans contain objectives and activities for fulfilling the priorities.

Our plan has six core values, three pastoral priorities and five foundational ministries. The core values are defined and behaviors to enforce the values are described. The pastoral priorities and foundational ministries have supporting goals.

The first strategic priority for the USCCB plan is evangelization. It was described as:


Open wide the doors to Christ through missionary discipleship and personal encounter.

The USCCB emphasis areas for evangelization are:

  • Go into all communities with the message of eternal salvation to awaken all God’s people through a personal encounter and relationship with Jesus. This call to discipleship should be addressed particularly to the marginalized and those most in need of Christ’s merciful love.
  • Inspire youth and young adults to enter into the joy of a sacramental relationship with Christ.
  • Rekindle the fire of Christ’s mercy, reconciliation, and healing among those who no longer attend or have left the Church.
  • Foster personal commitment among Catholics to faithful weekly participation in the celebration of the source and summit of our faith, the holy Eucharist.

Although organized differently, these ideas sound very familiar to those who have read the Priority Plan of the Diocese of Rapid City.

Core Values of the Diocese of Rapid City

Our core value of Prayer includes a call to daily prayer to renew a personal encounter with Christ and an encouragement for everyone to actively participate in Sunday Eucharist and celebration of sacraments.

Our core value of Stewardship is described as living a life of generous hospitality, lively faith and dedicated discipleship. Evangelization through invitation is the first behavior described for this value, which really touches on all of the emphasis areas in the USCCB priority.

Solidarity is the third value in our plan, and the behaviors described for Solidarity include reaching out to others, particularly those who are marginalized.

Our values of Mercy and Charity include the mercy, reconciliation and healing that the USCCB plan points to in “Rekindle the fire.”

In our value of Family we include the call for families to educate and form youth in the faith.


Pastoral Priorities of the Diocese of Rapid City

Our Pastoral Priority of Reconciliation goes even further in the call to “invite others to experience the good news of God’s love through an encounter with Jesus Christ.”

Forming Disciples is the Pastoral Priority that specifically speaks to that underlying event which prompts Catholics to participate in the life of the church, to seek a greater understanding of the faith and to share that good news with others.

Our third Pastoral Priority, Funding the Mission, is not something that the USCCB brings up specifically in their strategic plan, however it is included in their operational plan, and reflects the practical nature of South Dakota Catholics. In order for our plans to succeed, we need to know that they will be supported by the necessary resources.


Our Foundational Ministries

The USCCB priority of Evangelization is also directly or indirectly supported by each of our Foundational Ministries: Sacraments & Worship, Education & Formation, Governance & Finance, Social Services & Outreach, and Vocations & Evangelization. The quote from Matthew 28 which is listed under Vocations & Evangelization in our plan is a reminder to us that we are an evangelical people, called to share the Gospel with others. “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to

observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

May Jesus, who has promised to be with us, bless these plans of the USCCB and of the Diocese of Rapid City, and plant his Spirit deep in us so that we may use these plans to build up his kingdom in the world around us and to live out our Sacred Mission: We, the Diocese of Rapid City, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are called to attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim and live the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.

(Note: Copies of Bishop Gruss’s Pastoral Letter, Through Him, With Him and In Him, as well as copies of the Priority Plan for the Diocese of Rapid City are available at parish and diocesan offices.)



Ordinary Time

Nazareth — Reflections a prayers for the first three weeks of Ordinary time.

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Pope calls new cardinals to be agents of unity in divided world

Cardinal Blase Cupich, and Bishop Robert Gruss, Rapid City, in the sacristy of Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi before Mass. A group of 32 people from the Diocese of Rapid City made a pilgrimage to Rome to attend the consistory. (Courtesy photo)


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church’s 17 new cardinals must dedicate their lives to being ministers of forgiveness and reconciliation in a world — and sometimes a church — often marked by hostility and division, Pope Francis said. Even Catholics are not immune from “the virus of polarization and animosity,” the pope told the new cardinals, and “we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts.” Creating 17 new cardinals from 14 nations Nov. 19, the pope said the College of Cardinals — and the Catholic Church itself — must be a sign for the world that differences of nationality, skin color, language and social class do not make people enemies, but brothers and sisters with different gifts to offer. Three of the new cardinals created during the prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica were from the United States: Cardinals Blase J. Cupich of Chicago; Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life; and Joseph W. Tobin, whom the pope asked to move from being archbishop of Indianapolis to archbishop of Newark, New Jersey. Only 16 of the new cardinals were present for the ceremony. The Vatican said 87-year-old Cardinal Sebastian Koto Khoarai, the retired bishop of Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho, was created a cardinal although he was unable to travel to Rome.

Outlet store offers shopping by the pound

Rapid City Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Outlet in Box Elder, Dec. 1. Store manager Andrew Shepard used giant gold scissor for the occasion. (WRC story and photo by Laurie Hallstrom)

A Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony was held Dec. 1, for the St. Vincent de Paul Conference Thrift Outlet in Box Elder. Following the success of the SVDP Thrift Store in Spearfish, the society opened the outlet store. The location is 640 Box Elder Rd. W., Box Elder. (Coming from Rapid City, at I-90 exit 63, take the first left turn, about one block from the interstate.)

The outlet store is unique place to shop because everything, except furniture and mattresses, is sold by the pound. According to JoBeth Meyer, executive director for Store Development, opening day prices for clothing and other goods were 99-cents per pound. The regular rate is $1.49. Check Facebook for specials.

The store carries low cost mattresses are individually priced. The mattresses are stripped to the springs and recovered in Chicago, Ill; however, the thrift outlet cannot accept mattresses as donations in this area. The mattresses and box springs range from $150 to $249 for double pillow top set. Full sets are $200, Queen sets $250 and King sets $395, and bed frames start at $39.95. Meyer said, “For the month of December, mattresses are 25 percent off these low prices to celebrate the Christmas Season and our grand opening. Delivery is available for $20 extra.”

The store is accepting donations of clothing and household items. Since there is no washer on site, the store personnel appreciate having clothes washed before donating. To have furniture or large items picked up call 605-791-0707. Store hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Sunday. Also, the store does not accept electronics more than five-years old. Video tapes, CDs, DVDs and records go for 50 cents each. Donations of canned and boxed foods are given out on Vincentian home visits to people in need.

The thrift outlet operates with a combination of paid workers and volunteers. It has created employment opportunities in Box Elder. Proceeds from the Spearfish and Box Elder stores help fund SVDP outreach.

“We are very close to having given out $100,000 of assistance since May 2016 between the three conferences (located at Rapid City Cathedral, Piedmont and Spearfish-Belle Fourche-Newell.) Each conference does fundraising and receives cash donations as well as funds from the stores. The need seems to be especially great this holiday season and we are in need of both cash donations and goods,” said Meyer.

She said the SVDP stores are a great place to use conference vouchers. “The conferences will help a friend with a voucher to get the household items and clothing they need. Because our prices are so low a friend can get a lot for even just $25,” she said.

There are plans to open more stores in the area.

New Chief Finance Officer Hired

Rick Soulek, Rapid City, has been hired as the new Chief Finance Officer for the Diocese of Rapid City. He graduated from Wagner Community School, Wagner. Soulek earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, in 1986. Also at USD, he earned his MBA in 1991. Soulek has experience in finance, operations and management. He began serving the diocese Dec. 1. He and his wife, Lynn, are members of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Rapid City.

The Diocesan Priority Plan — Further Developments

By Teresa Spiess

December is a time to reflect on what has happened and to look with eyes of hope on what is yet to come.

The people of our diocese have been talking about Bishop Robert Gruss’s pastoral letter, “Through Him, With Him and In Him,” in study groups and adult formation sessions, hearing our priests speak about the priority plan in their homilies and praying for the work of the priority plan in shaping the future of the Church in our area — nudging us, perhaps, to get off our couches and to step into the mission field to accompany others on their journey into faith.

Let’s take a look at the progress we are making in the diocese toward some of the goals included in the priority plan.



Parishes are working on evaluating reconciliation in their parishes — what is working in their parish and what could help them to further foster reconciliation between individuals, families and communities. The reports and parish plans indicate that the Evenings of Reconciliation and other discussion groups on the subject have been fruitful.

For example, St. Joseph in Spearfish, St. Paul in Belle Fourche and St. Mary Star of the Sea in Newell reported, “the evening (of reconciliation) was a prayerful time taken seriously by those present. In our areas of discussion on reconciliation we found that identifying what was going on was an important first step. From there we tried to move on to how can we be a better instrument of God’s reconciling love. Most important, for participants, the desire was there for reconciliation in our personal life, family, parish and community along with the willingness to take positive action.”

Sacraments and Worship

Father Michel Mulloy, Director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese reported that thirteen individuals have accepted his invitation to join the Diocesan Liturgical Commission. The commission will meet in January to begin their work. A survey for all parishioners about their experience of liturgy in the diocese will be among the first items on the agenda for the newly formed commission. Expect to see it in your parish next fall.


Next Up:
There are three goals with January 1, 2017, due dates in the Foundations Ministries of Education and Faith Formation and Vocations and Evangelization.


Foundational Ministry: Education and Formation

Distance Learning Opportunities, (Through Him, With Him, and in Him, p. 111) Provide 3-5 ongoing opportunities for formation for catechists and parishioners in a distance learning format by January 1, 2017. This past spring Susan Safford, diocesan director of the Faith Formation Office, assembled a committee to help plan formation for catechists and parishioners in a distance learning format.

Obviously, many of our small, rural parishes are several hours from the Chancery and lack the staff and resources that are available in Rapid City. The Listening Sessions held throughout western South Dakota clearly indicated that a greater effort was needed to bring opportunities for faith formation to the places where our parishioners live and pray.

The faith formation committee identified online resources available from organizations including the Augustine Institute and Ascension Press. They are looking at ways to better use Real Presence Radio (89.9 and 94.7 FM) as well as KINI Radio (96.1 FM) in Rosebud to reach out with good Catholic content, both on-the-air and online. The committee is looking for ways to make the program, more accessible to parishes through grant possibilities and group discounts. FORMED has been called “Netflix for Catholics” and offers movies, audio presentations, study programs, and eBooks from trusted Catholic apostolates for an annual fee paid by the parish.

The office of faith formation is working with the diocesan communications office to get the word out to parishioners about the availability of resources and opportunities for faith formation. This month there was a list of Advent materials and resources posted on the diocesan website at Keep an eye out for future suggestions.

Faith on the Road continues to grow as well. This outreach team from the diocese travels to provide onsite formation

opportunities on a number of themes for Catholics of all ages, including youth ministry, vocations outreach, family nrichment and adult formation. A list of possible topics was provided to parishes in August. Pastors and parish directors of religious formation can schedule a visit from the Faith on the Road team by contacting the Office of Faith Formation. The office is also compiling a list of talented local speakers who could add to the presentations that the office is already bringing to parishes.

Pastoral Priority: Vocations and Evangelization
(Through Him, With Him, and in Him, 120-124)

Forming Parish Vocations Committees

Each parish or parish grouping will form a vocations committee to encourage and promote a culture of vocations by January 1, 2017.

In April of 2016, Rhonda Gruenewald, author of “Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry,” conducted workshops in Ft. Pierre and Piedmont. Participants were given practical information to help them create a culture of vocations in the parish. A follow-up workshop is scheduled on March 18, 2017.

Several parishes have taken this information and formed vocations teams. These parishes have begun to promote vocations in various ways.

  • Blessed Sacrament had a big celebration for Priesthood Sunday — there are some great photos of this event on the Vocations Facebook page, GodsCall.
  • Spearfish had a pie social to welcome Fr. John Paul Trask as their new parochial vicar.
  • Custer parishioners presented Fr. Grant Gerlach with a coupon book when he arrived as their new administrator, including offers for “a picnic lunch with our family” or “one hike in the hills with our family” and other similar, hospitable invitations.
  • Piedmont has borrowed the priest and sister cutouts from the vocations office and set them up for kids to have their picture taken. They also invited Fr. Mark McCormick, diocesan vocations director, to speak to parents and grandparents about encouraging vocations.
  • Parishioners in Bonesteel are making up photo cards for each priest in our

diocese with their name and address. Parishioners will be invited to take one and send the priest a card on their birthday and ordination anniversary and to pray for them.

The Vocations Office provided all parishes with a resource packet for National Vocations Awareness Week and Priesthood Sunday. The vocations website ( provides access to resources. Shawna Hanson and Father Mark McCormick are excited about the work of parish vocations teams and hope to see more teams established in the coming year. Consider visiting with your pastor about this opportunity to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life in your community!


Relational Ministry Training

Train and form 10-15 people from each parish or parish grouping in relational ministry and sharing the joy of the Gospel of Christ through witness and testimony by January 1, 2017.

Staff of the Vocations and Faith Formation Offices are working together with a committee to find ways to increase relational ministry in the diocese. The goal for relational ministry is to: “provide training for people in the local parish communities to become evangelizers in answer to their baptismal call.” (Through Him, With Him, and in Him, p. 120-124)

The committee is considering how best to identify people from around the diocese who already have a natural sense of relational ministry and provide training to prepare them to train others.

In addition, Bishop Gruss has formed a delegation to participate in a national Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, Florida, hosted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops next July. Delegates will form an evangelization team and bring back tools and the spirit to influence parish and diocesan communities, and to form the Church of the missionary option envisioned by Pope Francis. Delegates include Father Steve Biegler (Cathedral Pastor and Vicar General), Susan Safford (Director of Faith Formation), Amy Julian (Director of Family Life Ministries), Father Mark McCormick (Director of Stewardship and Vocations), Dionne Eastmo (Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City), Vincent and Val King (St. Isaac Jogues, Rapid City), Whitney and Laurie Driscoll (St. Joseph, Spearfish), Bill White (Christ the King, Porcupine), Ben and Jenny Black Bear (St. Charles, St. Francis), Ron Brown Otter (St. Aloysius, Bullhead), Sr. Jacque Schroeder OFM (St. Bernard, McLaughlin) and Father Michel Mulloy (St. Bernard, McLaughlin).


Be Part of the Process

As part of your end-of-year reflection and goal-setting process for the coming year, consider using available resources for furthering your own faith formation and spiritual growth through programs offered through your parish or through the diocese. Pick up a Lighthouse CD from your church, listen to a Catholic podcast, visit a Catholic website or prayerfully re-read Chapter 2 of the Bishop’s book. Take time to consider how God might be calling you to participate in the mission and ministry of the Church in your local community. Offer to be part of your vocations ministry team to promote religious and priestly vocations. Pray for the others you encounter in your daily life and find ways to help them encounter the love and mercy of God through your own words and actions. Build positive relationships that help you to grow in faith and to be strengthened and encouraged to share faith with others in ways both profound and simple. Taking any of these steps will help to renew your own faith and to bring the fire of God’s love to our families, parishes and communities.