Steubenville of the Rockies


Denver, CO – June 22-25, 2017

Click here to learn more about Steubenville of the Rockies. The event is hosted by the Archdiocese of Denver.
To sign-up contact:
Randy Vette —, 605-716-5214 ext 228.
Susan Thompson –, 605-716-5214 ext 221
$70 deposit due by January 12



Refuel 2017

Refuel 2017

A Conference for religious educators, youth ministers, and anyone involved in evangelization and catechesis. This year’s speaker is Jessi Kary, AO. She is the national director of the Pro Sanctity Movement in the United Sates. The movement is dedicated to spreading the universal call to holiness through the formation of internal holiness. For all religious educators, youth ministers, and anyone involved in evangelizing and catechesis. Earlier bird registration before December 20 is $50; after December 20 $65. Lodging options and registration available at:

Bishop’s Mass — helping raise money for SDSM&T Newman Center students


By Nancy Haugen
Director of SSM&T Newman Center

Have you ever wondered what the Bishop’s Luncheon at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is all about? Once a month, during the school year, students at the Newman Center plan and put together the luncheon for the bishop’s Mass. As a fundraiser for the center, all the proceeds assist our students in registration fees and travel expenses to the Fellowship of Catholic University Students conference that occurs every other year.

The bishop’s luncheon is an opportunity to hear, in a small group setting, Bishop Robert Gruss. Topics vary from month to month and offer great insight to true Catholic teachings from politics to daily living. The luncheon usually falls on the first Friday of each month, but this date may vary due to holidays. Make sure you check out the West River Catholic newspaper or the diocesan website — www.rapid — to verify the date. It begins with Mass at 11:15 a.m. and lunch is served at noon. Bishop speaks from 12:30-1 p.m. Cost for meal is $6.

The FOCUS conference, according to the website, helps college students strive “to live the Catholic faith in the midst of the secular world.” We hear from speakers who encourage and challenge us. The conference is five days long with more than eight thousand college students attending from around the United States. The conference offers fabulous speakers, amazing worship and great artists. All topics are geared to impact our young adults.

“Focus is a great opportunity for college students to deepen their faith with many other students at a time in their life where it’s easier to forget about the church,” said James Morris, a mechanical engineering graduate. “The talks and activities of focus engage you and you’ll leave with a new understanding of God. FOCUS was a great booster in my faith, and even two years later, my daily prayer life is a direct result of Focus.”

The Newman Center students encourage you to attend the Bishop’s Mass and Luncheon. It will brighten your day as our university students from the Newman Center serve you.

Featured image: School of Mines students prepare and serve lunch at the Bishop’s Mass. (WRC photo)

Oglala parishioners celebrate 100 years

In 1916, with a donation of $750 from a woman named Elizabeth, a frame church was built called St. Elizabeth. The church was built next to a meetinghouse that previously served as the church. Parishioners traveled by horse and wagon and camped the night before and to attend the monthly 8 a.m., Mass and breakfast.

The following year, strong winds blew so hard the church was blown part way off its foundation but left the church intact — even the statue of the Sacred Heart did not move.

By 1962, the church was too small for the congregation. The building was moved north of the new highway, and was used as a meeting hall. St. Anne Church from Red Bear Camp was moved 24 miles and placed next to the St. Elizabeth Church meeting hall. In order to move St. Anne Church, the tower had to be removed. The inside of the church was torn out including the high peaked roof and choir loft leaving only the outside shell. Local Lakota families did the work — adding sheet rock on the walls and ceiling and constructing a flat 11-foot ceiling. Due to the narrowness of the church, the altar was placed in the center against the sidewall with the pews facing each other on each side allowing everyone to see what was happening on the altar.

The paintings on the inside of the church were Lakota Catholic. The tipi told the story of creation with night and day, rain and snow, and rainbow. The thunderbolts gave power to the thunderbird for war and peace symbolized with the arrowhead and pine bough. The buffalo was the Indian’s way of life giving food, implements, weapons clothes and coverings for tents. The horse depicted their transportation. Man alone is missing.

Another image was the water bird. The bird comes down through the black chaos and the water to scoop up the earth to take it to the Great Spirit — man made out of the slime of the earth. The story represents God the Father. A cross represents God the Son. The twelve tongues of fire represents the Holy Spirit. The Blessed Trinity is in the work of creation, redemption and sanctification.

A parishioner tanned a deer hide for the antependium, and also did the beadwork on the antependium with the words WAKAN (Holy), and the white elk skin tabernacle veil with beaded trim design.

Other additions included a steeple in 1983, and in 1985 a parish hall was built called St. Elizabeth Hall dedicated to the memory of the St. Mary and St. Joseph societies.

In 1999 a tornado destroyed the church, meeting hall, and trailers for the sisters and brothers living there and serving the church. Shortly after the tragedy, then-Bishop Blase Cupich sent a letter to all parishes in the diocese asking that a special collection be taken up to help rebuild.

“We want to do everything we can to help, but also we want to give assurance of our solidarity with the people of Oglala as they rebuild their parish and community,” he said in the letter to all parishes. “The hearts of the people of the entire diocese go out to all those at Oglala.”

Br. Denny Hall was the first building re-built with the help of the Mennonite Church. This building served as a place of worship and meeting hall until the church and Br. Rene Hall were built. Funds for the new parish included a grant from the Catholic Extension and a check from the diocesan collection for $80,653.42.

Parishioners were part of the designing and planning of the church. The circular shape for the Circle of Life — windows facing the east to greet the day and windows facing the cemetery where their ancestors are buried — are just a few of the elements in the present church.

A few items survived the tornado: the deer hide antependium was badly water damaged, the beadwork was cut off and sewed onto new hide, and the altar remains the same. A four-and-a-half foot wood carving of the Holy Family with native features, which was just 6 years old, also survived the devastation. Two years later, on June 2, 2001, Bishop Cupich dedicated the new parish.

On September 18, parishioners celebrated the 100th anniversary of the church with a blessing, prayer and song at the former site, followed by a short walk to the new church to continue the Sunday Mass ending with a final prayer and blessing outside. Fathers Tom Lawler, SJ, (Provincial Superior of the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus), Joseph Daoust, SJ, (Sacramental Priest) and George Winzenburg, SJ, (president of Red Cloud Indian School) were the concelebrants. Three elders who had prayed in the old St. Elizabeth Church, Elizabeth Makes Him First, Mary Merrival, and Catherine Looking Elk brought up the gifts at Mass.

(Sr. Barbara Bogenschutz, OP, Parish Life Coordinator, contributed to this article)

Featured photo: The centennial celebration included outdoor prayer. (Photo courtesy Ryan Hauck, Red Cloud Indian School)

National Novena: Oct 30-Nov 7

In preparation for Election Day, the Knights of Columbus is calling its members and all the faithful to join together in a novena to the Holy Trinity through the maternal intercession of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States.

Join your brother Knights around the nation for this novena, beginning on Sunday, Oct. 30, and concluding on Monday, Nov. 7. The prayer for the novena can be found HERE.

Our country is in desperate need of prayer. Please ask all your brother Knights and their families, as well as your pastor and fellow parishioners, to pray this national novena for the protection, well-being and freedom of our country.

St. Teresa of Kolkata — November Saint of Mercy


Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born August 16, 1910, into a Roman Catholic Albanian family in the city of Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia. As a child she was captivated by the stories of missionaries, especially those serving in India. At the age of eighteen Gonxha joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish missionary order that served in West Bengal, India, taking the name Mary Teresa after St. Thérese of Lisieux. Sister Teresa taught at a girls school in Calcutta, eventually becoming headmistress in 1944.

Her life took a dramatic turn on September 10, 1946, when, while on the train to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, she received a vision of Jesus asking her to “come be my light” to the poor, to seek them out and serve them in a radical way. Teresa referred to this experience as receiving a “call within a call.” After she was granted permission to leave the Sisters of Loreto and found a new order, she began her ministry by going into Calcutta’s largest Christian slum and teaching children, writing in the dirt with a stick. She was soon joined by several of her former students and the Missionaries of Charity began to grow. Sister Teresa was now Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa began her ministry in the midst of a troubled time in India’s history. After India gained independence in 1947, there was intense fighting between Hindus and Muslims sending a flood of refugees into Calcutta. While walking through the streets one day she encountered a severely malnourished man, lying in the gutter, dying alone. Moved by this encounter, Mother Teresa created a Home for the Dying where the sisters welcomed and cared for those who would otherwise die alone in the streets. Her ministry continued to expand in Calcutta as she opened homes for orphaned children and later for those suffering from leprosy. In 1965, the Missionaries of Charity opened a mission house in Venezuela, the first outside of India.

An undated file picture shows Blessed Teresa of Kolkata holding a child during a visit to Warsaw, Poland. Mother Teresa will be canonized by Pope Francis Sept. 4 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Tomasz Gzell, EPA)

(CNS photo/Tomasz Gzell, EPA)

Within her lifetime, Mother Teresa’s sisters would increase to over 4,000 members serving in 123 countries. Her selfless service to the poor began to attract international attention, earning her several prestigious prizes culminating in her being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

While she joked about feeling uncomfortable with her publicity, (once telling journalists that a soul must be released from Purgatory every time her picture is taken), she used her international platform to speak out against abortion, contraception and the spiritual poverty she found in the wealthy nations of the West. She also reminded people that they did not need to travel to distant lands to serve the poor. Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., in 1994, Mother Teresa said: “I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do.”

Mother Teresa’s work was not that of a philanthropist, rather she considered herself a contemplative, contemplating the face of Jesus in the “distressing disguise” of the poorest of the poor. She would often repeat the words, “you did it to me,” enumerating them on her fingers, recalling the words of Christ from the end of Matthew’s Gospel, convinced that in touching the suffering bodies of the poor she was touching the body of Christ. Her zeal for serving the poor found its source in her experience on the train on September 10, known as Inspiration Day by the Missionaries of Charity. That day God allowed her to experience his thirst for her personally. Through Jesus’ revelation she came to understand that when he said, “I thirst” upon the cross, He spoke not only of physical thirst but of his thirst for souls — our love. In a letter to her sisters she explains, “‘I thirst’ is something much deeper than just Jesus saying ‘I love you.’” At her beatification, Pope John Paul II underlined the power of “I thirst” for Mother Teresa: “Satiating Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls in union with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, had become the sole aim of Mother Teresa’s existence and the inner force that drew her out of herself and made her ‘run in haste’ across the globe to labor for the salvation and the sanctification of the poorest of the poor.”

After the intense light and love she experienced on the train, Mother Teresa soon found herself shrouded in an inner darkness, a darkness that would last fifty years. With the help of trusted spiritual directors she came to understand and embrace this interior darkness as a participation in the darkness of Christ’s passion as well as sharing in the darkness of the poor. Far from undermining her faith, Mother Teresa’s experience of darkness illuminates the strength and depth of her faith that trusted in God’s love for her in the absence of any sense of his presence. While she lived in the midst of darkness, she radiated Christ’s light to the poor and to the world.

At the age of 87, Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997. She was beatified by St. Pope John Paul II in 2003 and was canonized by Pope Francis on September 4, 2016.

Prayer to St. Teresa of Kolkata

St. Teresa of Kolkata, you allowed the thirsting love of Jesus on the cross to become a living flame within you, and so became the light of his love to all.

Teach me to allow Jesus to penetrate and possess my whole being so completely that my life, too, may radiate his light and love to others.


Newman Center ministry ‘bursting at the seams’

2016-04-12_Exterior Render PosterAn architectural rendering of the proposed Black Hills State University Newman Center. The three-level facility will feature a chapel, full kitchen, a large fellowship hall, and office space for the Newman Center staff.


When Dru Barzeski decided to attend Black Hills State University, she didn’t think that not having a car would be a problem until she decided to attend Mass. “I am walking at night time, alone and even during the winter months,” she explained. “If the Newman Center were near campus, it would be easy for me to share in the activities and incorporate adoration into my daily schedule.”

The current building is nearly a mile from campus, and that according to Taylor Linn, director of youth and Newman ministry, is the biggest struggle with the building right now. “The new Newman Center will be located just yards from the main entrance to the university. It will be so much more accessible to students.

“The students will continue to serve the local parish and our community in many ways as they have in the past, but they are more than ready and excited to have their own spiritual home where they can pray and celebrate Mass and their faith.”

“Black Hills State University is the only public university in South Dakota without a Newman Center adjacent to campus,” said Kay Schallenkamp, past president of BHSU. “We have the opportunity to change this.”

Kristin Thompson, development director for the BHSU Newman Center, and Msgr. Michael Woster, Newman chaplain and pastor at St. Joseph, Spearfish and its affiliated parishes, have been quietly speaking with donors to raise funds for a new building adjacent to campus, and are working to finish raising the last 20 percent necessary to break ground in March of 2017. The second and public phase of the campaign began with a parish mailing to the parishioners of St. Joseph Church, Spearfish; St. Paul, Belle Fourche; and St. Mary Star of the Sea, Newell; in late September. The third stage, beginning in early November, is a mailing campaign to BHSU Catholic alumni and outreach to other parishes in the diocese with former students who attended BHSU.

“We want to serve all of the students, not just practicing Catholics. Faculty and staff, who are not able to break away for a time of quiet reflection or prayer, will be able to use it as well,” explained Thompson.

According to Thompson, the distance from campus is not the only reason for a new building. “This ministry is active and growing. We need a bigger place because the current Newman center is bursting at the seams. We aren’t building a place for a ministry that we want to create, we are building a new home for a community that’s growing.

“We see 20-30 active members at the current building throughout the year, but our mailing list includes more have more than 100 students who engage in Newman activities throughout the year,” she continued. “This year we are seeing an increase in our activities over previous years. Our chapel currently seats 12 students comfortably. We consistently have 25 students that show up for daily Mass on Tuesdays, and because of the chapel is too small, students must attend Sunday Mass at St. Joseph Parish or not at all.”

Newman Center students are active in parish life at St. Joseph Church serving as Eucharistic ministers, and lectors. Some help with Generations of Faith, faith formation, and confirmation retreats.

“Catholic Newman Centers across the country are vital in creating a place for college students to find the support of other Catholic students living and growing in their Catholic faith,” said Bishop Robert Gruss. “This is why building a new Catholic Newman Center at Black Hills State University is so important. The ministries provided to Catholic and non-Catholic students play an important role in helping develop future Christian leaders for the church and the world.”

“Remember these young people will be our Catholic and Christian leaders in our parishes, schools, communities and businesses for generations to come,” agreed Msgr. Woster. “I cannot imagine any other ministry as important as this one. It forms students in the gift of our Catholic faith. The new center will provide a ‘spiritual home away from home’ during the most critical years of their formation in life.

“We are so very close to completing our campaign. We have raised 80 percent of the funds needed to bring this vision of Bishop Gruss and our campaign team to reality. Anyone who loves our college students and recognizes the need to support their growth in the Christian faith please join in the campaign and help bring this project to completion.”

To give contact: Kristin Thompson, Development Director, 605-642-2306,



Hillenbrand accepts CSS Founder’s Award



Ray Hillenbrand, Rapid City, was honored by Catholic Social Services with the 2016 Founder’s Award, October 11. The keynote speaker was Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Philadelphia, and the award was presented by CSS Board Vice President Susan Raposa. (WRC photo by Becky Berreth)


By Laurie Hallstrom

Anecdotes of youthful hijinks, fishing tale “whoppers,” and sincere admiration were used by speakers to pay homage to a local businessman and philanthropist. October 11, Ray Hillenbrand, Rapid City, was awarded Catholic Social Services 2016 Founder’s Award for his contributions to Catholic Social Services, the Diocese of Rapid City and the greater community.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pa., a long time friend, was the keynote speaker. Archbishop Chaput served as Bishop of Rapid City, 1988-97.

“The nine years I spent as the Bishop of Rapid City are truly among the best and happiest in my life. One reason for that happiness was you, the people I served. Dakotans have a character that comes from a closeness to a very beautiful, but also a very hard land. The other reason was the friendships I made with many of you, but first and best among them is my friendship with Raymond Hillenbrand,” said Archbishop Chaput.

“My first memory of Ray was meeting him when he was caring for his wife, Rita, as she was struggling with terminal cancer. Ray’s composure and affection for Rita, at a time of great anxiety, pain and stress, were a lesson to me and to others in Christian dignity.

“We are honoring Ray tonight for his generosity to Catholic Social Services, and that honor is well earned. Ray is able to make clear decisions and take decisive action in almost any situation. I have never seen a more generous and capable volunteer when it comes to Catholic projects. His engagement with community goes very far beyond the church. He brings his energy and enthusiasm to every task.

“He has done extraordinary things for Rapid City. He has a special love for the Native American community that shows itself in a very consistent way. His Prairie Edge Store in Rapid City is remarkable for its quality and beauty.

“Ray is also a leader and major philanthropist in the Rapid City Collective Impact Program — efforts to improve the quality of life for all the city’s residents in areas like housing, jobs, vacation, hunger, family services and health. What a wonderful task that is,” he said.

Then Archbishop Chaput chided Hillenbrand for telling Moby Dick sized fishing stories. “He does have one alarming flaw, all of us who fish tell tales, little white lies, modest little exaggerations that we invent to help other people enjoy the sport. Ray has told some whoppers.”

The archbishop explained the mission of CSS is to live out the great theological virtue of charity. “The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas. Which simply means love. More specifically an unselfish Christian love for others, especially the suffering and the poor.

“Government programs can help solve social problems, and sometimes we need them, but they are not the same and they can never replace the role of charity. Real charity is always personal, it can’t be delegated, it’s an expression at the human-to- human level of our dependance on each other and the recognition we can never really know God until we acknowledge and support the dignity of human life that we find in other people and that we all share as children of God. When we help the poor, the disabled, the homeless, the unborn child, they also help us draw closer to heaven,” he said.

The archbishop said, what he admires most about Hillenbrand is the love in his heart that has led him to help people generously for a long time.

Following the award presentation, Hillenbrand was given a few minutes to speak.

“The thing that impresses me most about getting an award like this is the people who got it before me. I am in awe to be in their company. Three of them were friends of mine in many ways, Msgr. O’Connell probably touched the majority of lives in this room; Fr. Bill Pauly was a really special friend of mine and the other one is one of my best friends, Archbishop Charles. What Archbishop Charles has meant to me as a best friend is unbelievable because it’s not only who he is and how he operates, but it’s the way he communicates with people.”

Others were recognized at the banquet with Catholic Social Services Order of St. Benedict Awards — named for St. Martin Benedictine community, Rapid City. Those included the Hettick Family, for fostering a special needs child, Megan, who is now 34 years old; Audrey Kirkpatrick who worked at CSS for 25 years; and Rene Parker, former United Way Chair.




—Reconcile—Make Disciples—Live the Mission— October

Bringing the Priority Plan to life at home and in the community

—Reconcile—Make Disciples—Live the Mission—



Fr. John Hatcher, SJ
President, St. Francis Mission, Rosebud
Promoting forgiveness and healing among racial groups


Racism is an interesting and ambiguous term. How many races are there? Sounds like a question for the folks who built the of Tower Babel. That story is a way to explain the many divisions among peoples of the earth. Another way of talking about this is Original Sin — that weakening of human nature that allows the evil spirit to exploit human kind by tricking individuals into defining themselves as different and even better than other individuals. The fact is that there is only one race — the human race. Christ creates every human being in his own image. We are all more alike, spiritually, physically and intellectually than we are different.

Rather than talk about “racism” or “different races” we need to explore ethnic groups and the gifts that the Christ has given to us through them. Of course the major ethnic group in our diocese is the Lakota people who live on five reservations and in almost every community off the reservations. At the same time there is a Hispanic community and at least culturally different from each other, a prairie community, a city community and a small Air Force community.

My main experience has been with Lakota people. I was raised in the South for the most part, so I am familiar with segregation and the last gasps of “separate but equal.” What surprised me when I came to South Dakota was the depth of prejudice against Lakota people and their depth of prejudice against White people. I wish that after 41 years I could say that the situation has improved, but sadly that is not the case.

If I asked many White persons in West River to give me a profile of a Lakota person, what I would get is a profile with all negative stereotypes. And if I ask many Lakota persons to give me a profile of White people, I would also get negative stereotypes.

What is interesting to me is that if I introduced either group to the people in the other group that I know and work with, they would not find people who actually fit the stereotypes that they have in their minds. I know many prayerful, humble, kind, generous, hard working, and intelligent people in both groups. But often these people never meet one another.

Reconciliation means, “to make friends again.” This is not achieved simply by praying. Prayer is necessary to give us the courage we need to do something, namely, reach out to one another and break the pattern of prejudice. We are called to respect one another as persons fashioned in the image and likeness of Christ. We must actually go out of our way to meet persons from the other group and listen to their stories — the pain, the joy, the anger, the achievements and the failures. All of us need to ask and receive forgiveness for wrongs done but perhaps most of all for walling each other off and ignoring one another.

Recently, 90 people from communities around the Diocese of Rapid City came to St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Reservation to attend the Pilgrimage Day of Mercy. Many people told me at the end of the day how much they enjoyed the experience and how welcomed they felt by the Indian community of St. Charles Church. They also got a taste for how the cultural gifts of the people enriched the Liturgy and their experience. Deacon Ben Black Bear spoke to them about the history of Catholicism among the Lakota. People participated in the Directions Song and the azilya (smoke blessing) and walked through a tipi set up at the Holy Door. It was only a taste of what the ancient relationship God established with Lakota people can bring to the Liturgy and theology of the church.

Where do we want to be in five years? If we can change our hearts and accept one another as equals in the eyes of God, if we can open our hands and accept the gifts of culture and persons created by Christ, if we can do the hard work of listening to each other and come to enjoy each others differences, the Church of Rapid City will be much healthier and much more joy filled.

Native Cultural Values

Envisioning Team members want to follow the example set by Jesus and promote healing in families, between communities and among racial groups in the church. They established a goal to identify areas where reconciliation is working well and where it could be improved.

The focus of Catholic Social Services Lakota Circles of Hope is on social and emotional development in a Lakota cultural context. According to Jim Kinyon, executive director of CSS, it will be offered in more than 20 schools next year. Religion cannot be taught in the public school system; however, cultural lessons can be. The goal is to have students develop a sense of self worth and develop a good self image. This helps to address any future developmental problems as the child moves into adolescence and adulthood. It is a prevention program — prevention from substance abuse, personal abuse, and other related mental health issues.

According to John J. Usera, Ph.D., Lakota Circles of Hope Program Evaluator and Researcher, “The program provides knowledge and coping skills to deal with situations and challenges they encounter daily in a Lakota cultural context. The lessons are presented using Lakota values, traditions, and practices as a framework for making good decisions.

“Each lesson begins with the students sitting around the medicine wheel which represents the four directions and the four aspects of a human being (intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual). Smudging is performed (azilya) to help purify a person and help individuals to be open and truthful in the presence of the Creator.

“Then the students begin the discussion of the topic for the day by using the traditional talking circle guidelines. The current evaluation and research of the program, have found the students to be more respectful of each other, open to their strengths and challenges, and to have an appreciation of their own self-worth and their connectedness to each other as brothers and sisters in one extended family (tiospaye).”

Deacon Marlon Leneaugh, director of Native Ministries, said, “The Lakota Circles of Hope curriculum was designed to help children learn values and see positive behaviors through lessons taught from a cultural perspective using Lakota materials and stories. Each lesson has a moral to the story that will help children be influenced with positive messages and examples. The curriculum uses topics that are relevant for children and youth today. It brings help and hope and an awareness of the risky behaviors confronting the young people. The lessons present alternative problem solving methods.

“If the teachings are validated at home with caretakers that know the Lakota language or culture, the material can be very supportive in changing behaviors and preventing children from becoming victims to many of the social ills present today.”

Latino Community

Barbara Linares is a member of the Latino community in the diocese.

She said all the events they have are open to anyone who wishes to attend. The Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass, will be held Dec. 12, at Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City, at 5:30 p.m. It is a bilingual celebration. During Lent the Latino community has bilingual Stations of the Cross of the Migrant Jesus at the same church.

“We are planning to do bilingual posadas during Advent this year,” said Linares. Posadas are part of Mexican tradition. Participants go to houses seeking room for Joseph and Mary — like the couple sought from the innkeeper in the Bible.

Linares said in the future they would like to have leadership formation programs and adult retreats with bilingual speakers.

Hearing the Call

In the Envisioning Team Five Year Statement of Vision, a high priority is placed on empowering people to grow in their relationships of love in the human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral areas. Through prayer, people are able to discern their calling and live more fully their vocations to single, married, religious life or ordained ministry.

Fr. Mark McCormick is the director of the Office of Stewardship and Vocations. He remembers as a child driving home from Mass at Blessed Sacrament in Rapid City and his father would say, from time to time, “It would be great if one of my sons would become a priest and one of my daughters would become a religious sister.”

“These words of my father continue to echo in my own heart today,” said Father McCormick. He advises that the best way to create a culture of vocations in families is for parents to pray with their children about God’s desires and plans for them in their lives.

“Parents can assure their children that God does indeed have a mission in his kingdom reserved for them alone and God’s plan is far better than any plan they might choose for themselves,” he said.

He invites parents to be intentional in their conversations with their children about the universal call to holiness and the specific calls within that of a call to priesthood, religious life and sacramental marriage. “I encourage them to emphasize that God alone fulfills every the desire of the human heart and does so in all of these vocational paths,” said Father McCormick. “One practical suggestion for cultivating a vocation is to pray a prayer to know one’s vocation as part of the meal blessing.” A copy of this prayer and many other resources can be found at

He advocates inviting priests and religious sisters over for dinner and asking them to share their personal call to priesthood or religious life. Lastly, a family could pray a family rosary with the intention to know one’s vocation or break open the Sunday Gospel as a way to reflect together on the life-giving Word of God.

“My own discernment to priesthood really began by the gift of faith that my parents gave me by participating in Sunday Eucharist and, at times, daily Mass during Lent. It was being actively involved in the parish life at Blessed Sacrament Church as an altar server through high school and being involved in the parish youth group as well as diocesan activities and retreat programs. It was during these activities that caring adults at Blessed Sacrament would pull me aside from time to time and invite me to consider priesthood,” he said.

“Bishop Harold Dimmerling had a tremendous impact in my willingness to give seminary a try. After my fourth visit to Bishop Dimmerling, in a year while I was going to South Dakota State University in Brookings, he said to me ‘Mr. McCormick, I know you feel called to be a youth minister but I’m telling you I think you have a call to priesthood.’ In the end, I said yes to Bishop Dimmerling and gave seminary a try. He was right, it was in giving seminary a try that I discovered the Father’s invitation to be a priest of his Son, Jesus Christ. “

Guiding Children

The Envisioning Team recognizes as a core value, the family as the domestic chuch, and that parents and guardians are the primary educators of the children in the Catholic faith. They encourage them to model a lively faith by attending Mass, praying daily and providing catechetical formation.

Director of Family Life Ministries, Amy Julian, said, “I came into the church when Gia was in pre-school, so she would come with me to daily Mass before school each day. Rather than push religious life, I pushed the idea of discernment, that God was calling her to a particular life for which she had been especially designed, and she should involve him in that decision. I pointed out the fact that to go into religious life, if she was called into marriage, would be just as sad as getting married if she was truly called to be a spouse of Christ. After that, I let my daughter make a decision.”

Amy and her husband Joe live near Beulah, Wyoming. Their daughter, Gia, was invested with the habit of Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara on December 7, 2015. She received the name Sister Maria, Madonna dei Poveri or Mary, Mother of the Poor.

Pat and Rosemary Trask, Elm Springs, have a son who is a diocesan priest, Fr. John Paul Trask, Spearfish. He was ordained July 2, 2015.

Rosemary said, “Our goal was to orientate home life to reflect the everyday routine of the ‘domestic church.’ The priests we saw each week were our heroes. We remembered them in our daily family rosary, which was our unity and protection. We sent our children to Totus Tuus Camps and we went as a family to parish missions and Marian Conferences. As a dad, and a former altar boy, Pat was defensive of that stepping stone to ordination as a male calling that reverenced God the Father.”

—Make Disciples—

Marriage as a Vocation

In their Priority Plan core values, the Envisioning Team said the people of the Diocese of Rapid City, would support and promote the church’s understanding of marriage and family life. In his pastoral letter, “Through Him, With Him and In Him,” Bishop Robert Gruss explains the marriage relationship using the Trinity. On page 57, it says, “… the Trinity is a loving and life-giving communion of equal Persons. The one God in the loving inter-relationship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

“Marriage, in this way, is a communion of love between co-equal persons, beginning with the love between husband and wife, extending to all members of the family.”

Living out such devout faith for a lifetime is particularly important when facing life’s challenges. Two couples, each married 50 years, were asked how their faith had strengthened their unions.

Marion and Darlene Matt, Philip, said they had always attended church together and they raised their family in the church too. “We have always had our family involved with us,” said Matt.

Darlene said faith was particularly important when their son, a 21 year old college student, was killed along with another boy in a car wreck during a snow storm.

They agreed prayer is an important part of life whether it is individual, family or silent.

“We are very close, we tell each other we love each other every day. One of things I really enjoy is sitting in church and holding his hand,” said Darlene. In service to their parish, Sacred Heart Church, they both work on flowers and trimming bushes.

Another couple, Bill and Linda Young, Custer, said faith has been an integral part of their marriage. “Faith is important from day one, in good times and difficult times.

“One thing that sticks out,” he said, “In the 1990s we attended a Retrouvaille Retreat.* It kept us on track with our faith and helped our marriage tremendously.”

He quipped the oft used maxim, “The family that prays together, stays together.”

Bill said, “Faith is more important now than everything else. In society today our children and grand children need good role models. Our faith has led us to do that.”
*Retrouvaille is a retreat ministry with follow-up sessions to help couples in hurting marriages, possibly separated or divorced.


Helping Right Here

As we, as Christians, strive to live life imitating Christ, the Envisioning Team calls us to the core values of solidarity and charity. Solidarity, it says in the Priority Plan is, “recognizinging and accepting all people as brothers and sisters; being responsible for the common good of all.”

Charity, the plan says, is “Loving God and others because God first loved us.

National and international collections are held frequently in the parishes, but what about loving and standing with people in this diocese?

Mike Davies, an Envisioning Team member, explained his parish is in a “sister parish” relationship with three churches on the Standing Rock Reservation. “In 1996, Our Lady of the Black Hills in Piedmont was remodeled to expand the worship space. During this time, there was discussion and concern about ‘focusing inward’ too much. Then-pastor (the late) Fr. Peter Kovarik and interested church members brainstormed possibilities to help others. It happened that one of Father Kovarik’s friends, Fr. Steve Biegler, was among the first diocesan priests, along with (the late) Msgr. William O’Connell, to serve on the Standing Rock Reservation. The parishes at that time included: St. Bonaventure, McIntosh; St. Michael, Watauga; St. Aloysius, Bullhead; Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Kenel; and St. Bede, Wakpala. The Piedmont Church began a mutual relationship to help, pray for and get to know each other. (Today the parishes supported include McLaughlin, Kenel, Bullhead and Wakpala.)

“Over the years, this has included mission trips, evangelization, pow-wows, teaching exchanges, building crews, priest exchanges, and most of all prayers and encouragement for each other to live and evangelize our faith. In addition, OLBH supports these parishes financially by giving about $7,000 annually to help pay for general costs. Piedmont parishioner Patty Cresalia is currently the head of the liaison group.

Cresalia said, “Lifestyles, comforts, and struggles are not the same everywhere and as we learn about the culture surrounding our parishes we are building an awareness through the support we share.

“The fruit borne of this relationship between OLBH and our four sister parish communities are that we share the gift of treasure and presence. We are no longer unknown or strangers, but we become connected in our desire to embrace faith sharing in our church family.”

Fr. Michel Mulloy is an Envisioning Team member and the pastor of those sister parishes in the northern part of the diocese.

He said, “McLaughlin and its missions enjoy the ministry of Sr. Jacque Schroeder and Sr. Brigitte Owamba-Shomba. Both sisters are from Franciscan Orders. They meet with and work with the people in our four parishes in the spirit of St. Francis.

“They provide a presence that is different from my priestly ministry and is unique to their calling. The diocese is helping with the salaries and health care expenses in this first year, but the additional expenses of food, housing and transportation are paid for in part through the generosity of Our Lady of the Black Hills in Piedmont.

“That parish has taken to heart the diocesan vision of “living the mission.” They are putting their own resources into fulfilling that vision and McLaughlin and its missions are sharing in their commitment. We are deeply grateful that they embrace the diocesan vision.”

The funds provided for the reservation parishes are crucial for serving those churches according to Colleen Keller, the McLaughlin bookkeeper.

She said, “The money goes into Lakota ministry. Every fiscal quarter I transfer $7,000 and divide it between our three parishes. (Masses are not offered at Wakpala.) It goes to pay for mileage for the sisters and Father Mulloy to travel out to the mission parishes, do a night with the rosary and things like that. It helps with the priest’s salary, catechetical supplies and faith formation for kindergarten to adults on Wednesday nights.

“We couldn’t make it without our sister parish.”


—Live the Mission—

Randy Vette
Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry

For any Christian to truly live the mission he or she has to be called by Christ. They must be motivated by the love of Christ, and for that to happen the person has to fall in love with Christ in a real way. To that end we shape all our events and diocesan programs so that the Good Shepherd can reach his people and claim their hearts.

Through participation in Totus Tuus Girls and Boys Camps, Duc In Altum summer catechetical program, World Youth Day, TEC (Together Encounter Christ) Retreats, Steubenville Conferences, and other youth events and rallies, the young people of our diocese experience an opportunity to encounter the Lord and let him reveal the plan for each of their lives.

In all of the programs mentioned we include Mass, adoration, reconciliation, and various forms of prayer. Then we send them out to love their neighbor — not in theory — not just during the retreat/camp, but every day.

Especially through Totus Tuus we foster vocational awareness and the courage to answer the call. It is a beautiful thing to see teens at a Steubenville Conference, after a moving encounter with the Lord in eucharistic adoration, go up to the altar (in front of their peers) as a sign of their openness to a call to priesthood or religious life.



St. John Paul II — October Saint of Mercy


Karol Wojtyá was born May 18, 1920, into a devout Catholic family in Wadowice, Poland. His early life was marked by suffering and loss. When he was eight years old his mother died, and three years later his older brother. With the instruction and example of his father, Karol drew close to Our Lady and found solace in prayer. His father died in 1941 and at the age of twenty Karol was left alone in the world. Karol excelled academically and attended the prestigious Jagellonian University in Kraków; however, his studies were interrupted by war and the Nazi occupation. He went to work as a manual laborer in a quarry where he was known to sing and lift the spirits of those around him. Wojtyá entered the seminary in secret in 1942.

Pope John Paul II blesses the crowd of about 40,000 gathered for Mass in the central city of Santa Clara, Cuba, Jan. 22, 1998. He presided over a two-hour liturgy during which he urged Cubans to turn to Christ to bolster family life. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Pope John Paul II blesses the crowd of about 40,000 gathered for Mass in the central city of Santa Clara, Cuba, Jan. 22, 1998. He presided over a two-hour liturgy during which he urged Cubans to turn to Christ to bolster family life. (CNS photo/Reuters)

After the war ended, he resumed his studies and was ordained a priest in 1946. As a priest he spent much of his time ministering to young adults, often going on camping trips with them, and later taught philosophy at a Catholic university while earning his doctorate. In 1958, he was ordained auxiliary bishop of Kraków, then installed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964. While bishop, he attended all four sessions of Vatican II and worked to undermine the tyranny of Soviet communism. Wojtyá was named a cardinal in 1967 and then elected pope on October 16, 1978.

God’s mercy was a central theme of John Paul’s pontificate. In his famous homily at his inauguration Mass, John Paul exhorted the world: “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ.” Having witnessed the atrocities wrought by war and hate in his own country he knew well the depth of sin and evil; yet, he knew that God’s mercy was deeper still. Later, he wrote the encyclical Dives in Misericordia in which he emphasizes Jesus’ message of mercy to those who suffer: the poor, the outcast and the sinner, holding up the parable of the prodigal son as a “simple but profound” illustration of the “reality of conversion.”

John Paul not only spoke and wrote about mercy but he lived it. One of the most notable examples is when he visited Mehmet Ali Agca, his would-be assassin, in prison and forgave him. Another powerful example is the story of a priest who while visiting Rome stumbled upon a man begging outside a church who looked strangely familiar. Upon asking the man, the priest learned that they had in fact studied and been ordained together. The man related that after several crises he had renounced his priesthood, been stripped of his priestly faculties and was reduced to a homeless beggar. Later that day, in a private audience with the pope, the priest quickly blurted out the story of his encounter with the beggar. The priest received word from the Vatican that he was to dine with the Holy Father and was instructed to bring the homeless man. Though reluctant, the homeless man accompanied the priest. After dinner John Paul asked to be alone with the homeless man. After fifteen minutes, the man emerged from the room in tears. The priest eagerly asked the homeless man what happened. He recounted that John Paul had asked him to hear his confession. When he protested that he was a beggar and no longer a priest, John Paul replied saying: “once a priest, always a priest!” and “I too come before the Lord as a beggar.” After asking if he desired it, John Paul reinstated his priestly faculties and the beggar priest heard the confession of the pope. John Paul then sent him forth, instructing him to return to the parish where he had sat outside begging, that he was to be an associate pastor there and minister to his fellow beggars. With the love of the merciful Father, he welcomed his lost sheep back into the flock then sent him out to go and do likewise.

Near the end of his pontificate, John Paul canonized St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun to whom Jesus revealed the Divine Mercy image and chaplet, and he established Divine Mercy Sunday as a feast for the whole church. He brought this message of Divine Mercy to the world as he travelled to 129 countries while pope. After suffering from Parkinson’s disease for several years, John Paul died April 2, 2005 on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. He was canonized by Pope Francis on April 27, 2014. In his homily at John Paul’s funeral Mass, then-Cardinal Ratzinger said: “Our Pope — and we all know this — never wanted to make his own life secure, to keep it for himself; he wanted to give of himself unreservedly, to the very last moment, for Christ and thus also for us.”

Prayer to St. John Paul II

O Holy Trinity, we thank you for having given to the Church Pope John Paul II, and for having made him shine with your fatherly tenderness, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love.

He, trusting completely in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, has shown himself in the likeness of Jesus the Good Shepherd and has pointed out to us holiness as the path to reach eternal communion with you.

Grant us, through his intercession, according to your will, the grace that we implore, in the hope that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen.