Outreach Team visits STM high school


Jenny Scherr, Piedmont; Randy Vette, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry; Jake Davis, Rapid City; and Father Mark McCormick, director of Vocations and Stewardship; pose for a photo before lunch with students at St. Thomas More High school, December 8. The four are part of the Outreach Team focused on entering into the lives of high school students and loving them where they are at. “The goal is to build genuine relationships that will allow us to mentor young people in the faith by simply being a presence,” explained Vette. “This idea for the team came from a desire to work with high school students in the best, most fruitful way possible. Jesus showed us how; we simply desire to imitate Christ and his love. He didn’t wait for us to come to him, but first took on flesh and came to be with us. We believe that is the model youth ministry should follow. There is great potential with this new ministry and a lot of students we can be a joyful witness to.” After a weekend of attending basketball games, the team went back to the school to have lunch on December 14. “STM has been very welcoming to us. I look forward to getting to know the kids,” Scherr added. The team also includes Jackie Kuhn and Jordan Miller, both of Rapid City. (WRC photo)

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 FORMED.org, 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 rapidcitydiocese.org. 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 enrichment 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, p. 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, facebook.com/ 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 (Gods-call.org) 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.

The Christmas Season

Nativity (A Retreat for Christmas) by Fr. Mark Toups
“Nativity is a resource you can use to go on retreat in the midst of your busy life. People go on retreat all the time. People go on lots of different retreats. Some retreats are at monasteries, others are at retreat centers, and still others are at churches. Regardless of when or where, retreat is essentially a time in a person’s life where they commit to being present to God—to pray, to listen, and to receive.”


Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass

Current Event Registration Forms

March for Life 2017

The Power of One

The March for Life began in Washington, D.C., as a small demonstration and rapidly grew to be the largest pro-life event in the world. The peaceful demonstration that has followed on the somber anniversary of Roe v. Wade every year since 1973 is a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, legalized abortion on demand.

Join the Office of Youth and Young Adults for a trip to Washington D.C., to participate in the rally and March for Life on January 27, 2017! Open to all high school and college age students. Contact your parish youth minister or Randy Vette for more information.  Click here for a registration form.


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 — RVette@diorc.org, 605-716-5214 ext 228.
Susan Thompson – SThompson@diorc.org, 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: terrasancta.org/refuel2017

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

citydiocese.org — 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)