Bidding farewell to priests departing for new assignments

 

The Easter season is a very busy time for me as I travel the highways and byways to many different parishes to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to our young people. This is one of the things I enjoy most about being the bishop — the chance to interact with our confirmation students, their families and parishioners in each parish.

Late April and early May is also a time for finalizing priest assignments for the following fiscal year. The departure of a number of priests from the diocese has made this process a real challenge this year. While the challenges are real, I have so much for which to be grateful.

It all began with Bishop-elect Steve Biegler being named the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne. What a gift the people of Cheyenne are getting! I am deeply grateful for his ministry in the Diocese of Rapid City for the past twenty-four years. But I am grateful that I will still see him at least twice a year at the U.S. Bishops’ Conference meetings.

I am saddened that Frs. Godfrey Muwanga and John Lule, our Ugandan priests, are being called home for new assignments, although I am grateful to their bishop for allowing them to remain here for ten years (five years longer than originally planned). They both provided wonderful ministry and were great additions to our presbyterate. They will be deeply missed. Thank you, Father Godfrey and Father John, for your service among us.

We will also say farewell to Fr. Andrea Benso, our priest from Italy. After serving in the diocese for the past three years on the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservations and completing his Native American Ministry experience, he will return to Italy to continue his priesthood in his own diocese. We wish him well and thank him for his service among us. Despite his short time with us, he, too, has left his mark.

It will also be hard to say goodbye to some of our Jesuit priests who will be leaving the diocese over the course of the next few months. Fr. John Hatcher, SJ, will be departing later in the summer after serving the Native American people for the past 45 years. He will be taking a well-deserved sabbatical over the next year. Fr. Rick Abert, SJ, who has been a dedicated servant to the people on the Pine Ridge Reservation for a total of 13 years, will be leaving the end of May to take on a new pastoral assignment in another diocese. Fr. Peter Etzel, SJ, who has served here for seven years as the

Director of the Sioux Spiritual Center, Director of the Deacon Formation Program and Director of the Lay Ministry Formation Program, will also be reassigned to another diocese-missioned to a new assignment, departing later in the summer.

I am deeply grateful for the presence of the Jesuit communities here in the diocese and for all that they have been doing to serve the Native American communities for these many, many years. Fr. DeSmet first arrived in the Dakota Territory with the “Black Robes” in 1838 — 179 years ago. Many wonderful Jesuit men have served here sharing their gifts, talents, and their love for the Native American people. They have taken on the most challenging ministry in the diocese and truly made a difference in the lives of many people. As I have traveled around the diocese, the names of many Jesuits who have served here have come up in the conversation with parishioners who have described how their lives have been touched by the ministry of these fine men. The Jesuits who will be leaving us are among the finest. Fr. John, Fr. Rick and Fr. Peter, I cannot thank you enough for your ministry. You have each left a lasting mark on the church in western South Dakota and all of you will be deeply missed.

In the face of these departures, the Lord has assisted us in meeting the challenges of assigning priests to provide necessary coverage for our parishes this year. The process has been difficult and it is only possible because of the generous priests we have in our diocese. I am deeply grateful to our priests for their willingness to give of themselves in many ways for the sake of the needs of the diocese.

I am grateful for those priests who are willing to move if asked, for those priests who are willing to delay their retirement, come out of retirement or remain out of retirement for another year. This has been extremely helpful in addressing the priest shortage this year because of the many departures. I am thankful for those priests willing to accept a new assignment before their current assignment has ended or who have accepted one that is not necessarily on their wish list. This is just another example of the many ways they serve sacrificially for the greater good of the diocese. We also rejoice in the return of Fr. Brian Christensen, who will complete his assignment at the North American College, and the arrival of several priests to serve in the diocese for the first time. (The assignment changes are listed on page 4 in this paper.)

Although it has been challenging to program the placement of priests this year, I will always trust that God will provide for the Diocese of Rapid City. However, I also know that we all MUST do our part by praying for vocations every day, by inviting your sons or other young men in your parishes to consider a vocation to the priesthood, and by helping to create a culture of vocations in your parishes. There is no reason why the Diocese of Rapid City should be facing a priest shortage. There is an abundance of priests in our diocese!

As I wrote in Through Him, With Him and In Him: “Families and local parish communities should be the seed beds for priestly and religious vocations. There are no shortages of vocations to the priesthood. They are in your families and parish communities. You have not called them forth. The only shortage is that of vocational discernment. If more Catholics were to intentionally

engage the Lord in a conversation about what his plan for their life might be, in other words, seek out their personal vocation, many would discover a call to the priesthood or religious life. This is precisely why families and parish communities must be engaged in the work of vocations.”

In conclusion, I offer my deepest thanks for the priests who have so generously served the people of God in the Diocese of Rapid City, those priests who are departing us and those who continue to give of themselves across western South Dakota. Be assured of my continued prayers for all of our priests and for those whom God is calling to discern a religious vocation. I also ask the People of God in our diocese to remember to regularly thank your priests and to thank God for them. We can never take their presence for granted.

Rapid City guild of Catholic Medical Association begins meeting

Pictured: The Sacred Heart of Jesus Guild of the Catholic Medical Association of the
Diocese of Rapid CityPresident George Ceremuga, II;

 

In the early 20th century, prior to American Catholics’ integration into the mainstream of culture and institutions in the United States, in Boston, Mass., the Catholic Medical Association was formed. It strengthened physicians in their faith, organizing them in local guilds to support one another and the church.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus Guild of the Catholic Medical Association of the Diocese of Rapid City has applied to become a chartered guild of the National Catholic Medical Association. It obtained provisional status as of February 4. In the last few months the guild has met the association requirements to be an officially chartered guild and the application is currently at the National CMA board of directors for approval.

At the present time there are more than 100 chartered guilds and 25 student chapters of the CMA. Guilds are organized at the level of a parish, city, or diocese. Local guilds are organized in 11 regions of the country and one military district, each supported by two regional directors.

Board of director members include: Chaplain Bishop Robert Gruss; President George Ceremuga, II; and Vice President Rommel Brandt. The Diocesan Chief Finance Officer, Rick Soulek, will serve as treasurer and the Director of Family Life Ministries, Amy Julian, will serve as secretary.

The membership welcomes physicians, healthcare professionals, clergy, students and all persons interested in integrating Catholic principles into health care. To date there are 12 charter members in the Rapid City guild according to President Ceremuga. The goal of the CMA is to help the members to grow in faith, maintain ethical integrity and provide excellent healthcare in accordance with the teachings of the church. With the landscape of medical ethical issues changing so swiftly, this mission is more important than ever.

“Our guild will be active in educating the community on pro-life medical issues and preparing for the social challenges

regarding end of life care and the prescription of medical marijuana that is sweeping the nation,” he said.

Membership benefits include spiritual and professional support; subscriptions to The Linacre Quarterly and The Pulse of Catholic Medicine Magazine; educational opportunities and networking; email updates and action alerts; discounted registration to the CMA Annual Conference.

Projected monthly meeting times are Saturday mornings at Catholic Social Services. Please see the web address below for the membership categories and the fee structure. http://www.cathmed.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2017-New-Member-Application-Form.pdf.

For information, please contact Ceremuga at 605-430-4843, george@dr georgej.com, or Dan Petereit at 605-390-1154.

West River Catholic: April 2017

Enjoy the April edition of the West River Catholic

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Abide in Me: Building the kingdom of God in your zip code

(Left) Fr. Timothy Castor, Sturgis; Deacon Greg Sass, Piedmont; and Pastoral Ministry Days guest speaker Tom Corcoran, Parkville, Maryland; visit during a break. (Right) Fr. Michael White, pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland, held a special session for clergy. Corcoran and Father White co-authored books on increasing attendance and participation at church.
(WRC photos by Becky Berreth)

 

By Laurie Hallstrom

Genuine spiritual renewal was the core premise during Pastoral Ministry Days. Speakers Fr. Michael White, pastor, and Tom Corcoran, assistant to the pastor, from Church of the Nativity, Timonium Md., addressed more than 250 people at the annual gathering. It was held April 3-4 at Terra Sancta Retreat Center, Rapid City.

During Father White’s tenure at his church, Mass attendance has risen from 1,400 people to more than 4,000 on weekends. He and Corcoran have written several books illustrating what did and did not meet the needs of the parish. “Rebuilt,” “Tools for Rebuilding,” and “Rebuilding Your Message,” are among their titles.

Prior to making changes in the Maryland parish, the men visited thriving evangelical churches to learn about their practices. They knew they had to change the weekend experience, including hospitality, the message, and the music. They came up with five steps to revitalize their church. To grow disciples, people need to serve, they need to give, to engage in small groups, to participate in prayer and the sacraments, and to share their faith or evangelize others.

“Why” is the most important component of ministry, according to Corcoran. “When you lose your why, you lose your way,” he said.

He cited The Great Commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19), as the answer to the question, “why?”

“Look at the church from the point of view of the people who are not attending,” he said. “What keeps people away from church is they don’t think they will be welcome.”

At his parish, welcoming begins in the parking lot with greeters directing drivers to spots. They are welcomed at the door by more greeters and hosts who help them find a place to sit.

He underscored the importance of children’s formation that allows the parents to focus on the Liturgy of the Word. At his church they have three programs — Kids Zone, All Stars and Time Travelers. All of which encourage the children to share their faith. He said empty-nesters and teens work well in that ministry. For children with disabilities the church has a buddy ministry — volunteers who sit with them during the children’s formation. Before the Liturgy of the Eucharist, hosts shepherd children back to their seats.

Another important component of ministry is music. “Music can reach people’s hearts,” he said, advising parishes to invest resources in skilled musicians — he acknowledged finding both talent and a heart for ministry is hard, but “the history of God’s people includes singing.”

 

Fr. Michael White said, “We are trying to advance the kingdom of God in our generation. This is the fundamental, indispensable work of the whole church.”

According to Father White the parish is more than a church building; it is a geographical term, your zip code including people you have never met. The majority of people not attending church are un-churched Catholics. He asked, “Who are the people not currently in the pews? What are they like? What language do they speak? How do they spend their time, their money? What is their culture? What do they think about God, faith and religion?”

While discussing ministry he said to ask the church leaders:

  1. Are we making a measurable difference in the community or simply serving our members?
  2. Are we mobilized for mission or

insisting on business as usual?

  1. Are we here to preserve our broken systems or are we willing to go where God is blessing?”
  2. Are we simply meeting or are we moving?

He told the story of Nehemiah, rebuilding the fire damaged walls around the city of Jerusalem, to make several points. Nehemiah was an educated, sophisticated Jewish man who first prayed to God for the king’s permission to rebuild the walls. Nehemiah surveyed the situation, then he tackled projects one at a time. He drafted teams to help him. Then, when his critics accused him of treason he redoubled his efforts.

“When we are making progress critics come forward, don’t be surprised,” said Father White.

We can make God’s love and kindness real

By Laurie Hallstrom

“The people we serve on average make less than $1.25 a day. They are the poorest of the poor and they live in fragile situations,” said Dr. Carolyn Woo.

More than 800 people gathered in Rapid City for the Catholic Social Services Palm Sunday Brunch, the charity’s largest fundraising effort of the year. The guest speaker, Woo, served as president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services From 2012 to 2016. The international relief agency was established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington D.C., after World War II to help refugees. The agency will have its 75th anniversary in 2018.

Woo’s family emigrated from Hong Kong. She attended Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., where she earned her bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees and she was a member of the faculty. She served as dean of the Mendoza School of Business at Notre Dame University, Notre Dame, Ind., before joining CRS.

She said CRS partners with 1,200 organizations across the world and 600 of those are Catholic. Workers are active all over the globe in about 100 countries. In the countries where CRS workers are, they are not allowed to evangelize, or they would be killed. “Our role is to let people know what Catholicism is all about — it is by the way we love, by the way we treat each other. That is the good news. We are people who can love and care and we actually make the choice (to share) it,” she said.

“People ask if I am depressed with my work and I just want to say, ‘on the contrary.’ There is a lot of suffering, sometimes I feel like we are sent to the foot of the cross,” said Woo. “We are face to face with suffering people — children who are hit by shrapnel and have no access to care. We run into people who have been trafficked, women whose daughters were captured and sons were killed. We are often visited by women whose children died of malnutrition. There are a lot of crosses people bear. But I am not at all depressed.”

She explained that at the foot of the cross, after the horrific torture, the suffering and the crucifixion, the good news began.

Woo led a retreat with Sisters of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame, on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25. She shared that message about the invitation from God. “He invites not only Mary, but God invites us to be a part of the plan of salvation. He hopes sometimes we say ‘yes,’” said Woo. “God issues invitations each and every day, to make his kingdom known, to bring about salvation.”

In December, as she was finishing her work at CRS, she told her colleagues, “What is the work that we do? What is our role in God’s plan? We are the answers to people’s prayers. It sounds so arrogant — it is not meant to be. The reason I say that is the people we work with don’t have a home, food, or medicine. Sometimes they don’t have money and they pray, whatever religion they are, they say ‘God please send help, please send food and medicine, my child needs milk.’

“Somehow, when we show up that’s what we bring. It is more than formula, food, shelter, and medication; we also bring longer term solutions as you do in Catholic Social Services. We bring a way for people to find a new path, to rebuild their lives.”

Woo explained sometimes social work is tangible, someone needs something and it can be given to them. “Not all needs are tangible — the deep need of loneliness for example, low self concept or a sense of having no hope, those things are not always tangible; but we are sitting next to people (family and coworkers) who could benefit from kindness,” she said. “Prayers are made to God, we have a chance to be working as God’s answers.

“The fact that we are given a chance to be God’s answer to people’s prayers is really an incredible privilege,” said Woo. “I think that the whole idea of witness is making God real. Each of our roles is to make generosity and love real. When we do that we are emulating God. That’s how people come to believe in God.”

Confidential support groups for those with same-sex attraction

By WRC Staff

Courage and EnCourage support groups are getting started in the Diocese of Rapid City. Courage is a Roman Catholic Apostolate to people with same-sex attraction. Cardinal Terrance Cook founded it in 1980, in the Archdiocese of New York. The founding director was Fr. John Harvey. At the root of the ministry it says persons experiencing same-sex attraction must be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity as people created and loved by God. EnCourage, a ministry to family and friends of SSA individuals, was started in 1992 to provide peer support and spiritual growth for its members.

Like all single Catholics, members of Courage are urged to live chaste lives and participate fully in the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Courage proclaims that holiness and happiness are possible for its members who strive to know Christ profoundly and seek to follow him in the Gospel way of life.

The program requires compassionate chaplains to guide the ministry. Two priests from the Diocese of Rapid City, Msgr. Michael Woster, Spearfish, and Fr. Jim Hoerter, Faith, will be coordinating the efforts to start a chapter (or chapters) in western South Dakota. The two priests attended the Courage and EnCourage national meeting July 19-24, 2016, in Washington, D.C. “The Courage apostolate is a wonderful opportunity for those experiencing same-sex attraction in our diocese to know personally Christ is walking with them. Through community and the riches of the church, participants come to know Jesus’ very real concern, his friendship, joy and his call particular to their own life,” said Father

Hoerter. “Through Courage members can come to know Jesus Christ concretely. He is the One we desire in the depths of our being. He really is the ‘good news’ for all of us.”

Msgr. Woster said, “I was really impressed with the people I met at the national meeting in Washington. Some tended to be older, people who had gone through some pretty rough times, and maybe had gone through several relationships. Many were people who had some connection to spirituality or to the church earlier in their life. They went down one road after another and nothing worked out and they have found their way back. They found reconciliation, forgiveness, friendship, and support through Courage. Christ is real to them — they rely upon him.”

He said the people at the national meeting were strong Catholic Christians — many have been in Courage for several years. “I was touched in listening to many of their stories. They are wonderful examples of God’s love and God’s grace.”

“At the convention we learned Courage members love their priests. Fr. Jim and I felt very affirmed by Courage members. Our celibacy is a sign to them that living a chaste life and having chaste friendships are possible,” said Msgr. Woster.

While at the conference, Msgr. Woster also attended a joint meeting of Courage and EnCourage members. The EnCourage parents told how hard it was when they learned their son (or daughter) was questioning their sexually identity or experiencing SSA. They spoke of their confusion about how best to respond to them and their fears about their child’s future. The Courage members shared with EnCourage family members what they were looking for in their parents and siblings that would help support them and help them find healing and reconciliation.

“It was amazing to see the compassion and growth toward understanding between Courage and EnCourage members,” Msgr. Woster said.

The chaplains can be reached by phone. To protect anonymity, a contact number for the chaplains is given. Callers can leave a message, and a chaplain will contact the caller and give them ministry and meeting information as well as assistance in discerning if the ministry will be helpful to them.

Call Courage at 605-646-3363 or EnCourage at 605-519-8688. To learn more about this ministry go to http://couragerc.org or email office@couragerc.org.

‘What would happen if parents began teaching the psalms to their little ones?

Last month I was in Davenport, Iowa, my former diocese, to give a four-night Parish Renewal on Stewardship at St.

Anthony Catholic Church, the oldest parish in the Diocese of Davenport. It was a great joy to be back amongst many people whom I have come to know through my years of ministry in that diocese. Having never given a parish renewal before, I was not sure what to expect. Many questions came to my mind: Would people show up? How would they hear my message? Is a prophet welcome in his native place? Any concerns that I had quickly went by the wayside. My message was well received and I deeply enjoyed the experience.

But my experience went beyond just giving one-hour talks on various aspects of stewardship. One afternoon, a woman from the church who faithfully attended each evening talk, as well as the talks that I gave following the daily Mass, invited me to come and bless her office. She was a local chiropractor and her office was not far from the church. When I showed up at her office, I also found her mother and her almost five-year-old nephew. They were not unfamiliar to me because they had all been at Mass on Sunday. But this gave me an opportunity to get to know them a little better.

What I experienced was beautiful and deeply moving. The little boy was very active, but a little shy in my presence, at least for a little while. It didn’t take him long to warm up to me. The next thing I experienced was something unexpected. His aunt asked him to pray with me the 23rd Psalm. As a four-year-old, this little boy could not yet read, but he began to recite Psalm 23 for me by heart. Remarkable! I was blown away. During the visit, he later recited Psalm 91 for me as well. But if that was not enough, there was more.

Prior to me leaving his aunt’s chiropractic office to go next door for a cup of coffee at his mother’s café, this little boy was asked to pray a prayer of blessing over me from his heart. Out of his mouth came this beautiful extemporaneous prayer, asking God to bless the bishop with many blessings and to grant me a safe trip home. Again, I was deeply moved, even to tears. I have never experienced anything like this before.

It revealed to me not only his faith, but the faith of the parents, the aunt and the grandmother. They were intentional about working with this child and sharing with him the importance of prayer and a relationship with Jesus.

As I reflected upon this experience, it reminded me of two core values in the Diocesan Priority Plan — Prayer and Family. The first Core Value is prayer, which is the very foundation of the Catholic life. “As the primary educators of their children in the faith, it is imperative that parents teach their children how to engage in a relationship with Jesus through prayer. It is the one way in which they will build a strong and secure foundation, leading to an intimacy with the Lord based on faith and trust. The active engagement of family prayer is also what builds strong, healthy marriages and families. Daily family prayer is what best models the life of the Holy Family. It should be the practice of every Christian family.” (Through Him, With Him, and In Him – A Spiritual Guide to the Diocesan Priority Plan, pg. 32).

This family was living out this Core Value of Prayer, but also the Core Value of Family. It was clear that they had created the “domestic church,” a place where we first learn about who God is and how we encounter him in prayer; a place where Christ is encountered within a community, an individual Christian family where each member plays a role in the mission of evangelization. We evangelize when we share faith, teach faith and live faith. The Christian family is where this begins and should continue, lifelong” (Through Him, With Him, and In Him – A Spiritual Guide to the Diocesan Priority Plan, pg. 51).

There is no doubt that these family members took seriously their role in the evangelization of their little four-year-old. I found myself thinking what society would be like if this was the norm rather than the exception. Imagine what would happen if parents began teaching the psalms to their little ones; if they began teaching them how to pray from their heart at this early age. This little boy was no doubt very smart, but his gifts for prayer came alive and were developed because family members took the time to share their faith and teach him the importance of God in his life.

To learn more about the Core Values which provide the basis for living an authentic Catholic way of life, read and reflect upon the Spiritual Guide to the Diocesan Priority Plan – Through Him, With Him, and In Him.

(More free copies are available. Ask your pastor how you can obtain one.)

Who knows where this little boy’s life will lead him, but certainly he is well on the way in building a strong and secure foundation in the Lord. His prayer over me was truly an experience of resurrected life in Jesus.

As we celebrate this beautiful season of Easter, may Jesus set our hearts afire with his love so that we all become bearers of Christ’s radiant glory, filling the world with this new life!

 

West River Catholic: March 2017

Enjoy the March edition of the West River Catholic

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Bishop-elect Steve Biegler

May the Lord be at your side as you shepherd the faithful in the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming
Bishop Robert D. Gruss, the Clergy and People of the Diocese of Rapid City
Click here to see the special section from the West River Catholic.

 

It’s such a great life of journeying with people in their faith

By Laurie Hallstrom
When a diocese becomes vacant because the bishop has been moved, retired or deceased, the Holy See looks for a man whose gifts and experiences are best suited to serve the particular needs of that local church. In the case of the neighboring state of Wyoming, the priest selected grew up on a farm-ranch, has driven many rural highways, lived in a very similar climate, served on a Native American reservation, and worked in a post energy boom town where the mines were closed.

March 16, news spread quickly — Pope Francis named Fr. Steve Biegler, 58, Rapid City, as the ninth Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming. The diocese encompasses the entire state.

Fr. Steve Biegler was born on March 22, 1959, in Mobridge. His family owns a farm-ranch operation near Timber Lake. His parents are Alfred (deceased) and Mary Biegler. He has six brothers and six sisters, including Rhonda Nickerson, who passed away July 9, 2010.

Growing up in Timber Lake, he attended Holy Cross Catholic School. He recalls that vocations were discussed at home. “My parents were always supportive if one of us were to have a religious vocation. I had a good family of prayer and faith and I see that as central to my vocation,” he said. “Fr. Jerry Scherer is my mother’s first cousin and he was close to our family. He stopped by a lot. With the school we had the Presentation Sisters out all the time and we would invite the parish priest, too.”

He graduated from Timber Lake High School in 1977. He attended the S.D. School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City for one year, 1977-78. “I took a day to think about life and seminary came to mind. I said, ‘Not right now, I’ll have to think about that.’ I was also considering ranching and having a family and those thoughts were part of considering the priesthood and celibacy,” said Bishop-elect Biegler.

Most of the next eight years, he worked on the family farm. “We had radios in the tractor, but I would often just turn the radio off. That was a really powerful place of meeting God in the beauty and quiet of nature,” he said, adding, “It was wonderful time for prayer and discernment.”

When he felt he needed a change, “I left for a little bit and went to Wyoming and worked with a construction crew filling in old underground coal mines around Glenrock near Casper. They had slurry of gravel and a compound similar to concrete. They were trying to stabilize those mines because they were caving in under the town.

“The priest in the town was the vocation director for the diocese, so I did end up talking to him a little bit,” said Bishop-elect Biegler.

He attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary and St. Mary College in Winona, Minn., from 1986-89 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. From 1989-1993, he attended the North American College in Rome where he received an STB or Bachelor of Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rapid City at Holy Cross Church in Timber Lake on July 9, 1993.

“I went back to NAC as a faculty member from 2003 to 2006, and stayed another year, 2007, and finished a biblical theology degree,” he said. From the University of St. Thomas in Rome he received an STL (License in Biblical Theology).

In 2010-11, he served as Diocesan Administrator following the departure of then-Bishop Blase Cupich for his appointment as Bishop of Spokane, Wash., until the ordination of the current ordinary, Bishop Robert Gruss. “I had some experience of overseeing the diocese during that year, going out and doing confirmations — which a DA does, and I learned about the workings of the diocesan staff,” he said.

Bishop-elect Biegler said he will miss this diocese, family members, friends he has made at parishes where he served, and what he describes as “a great fraternity of priests.”

“For me, I’ve come to know that priesthood is where I belong and obviously it’s demanding but it’s so fulfilling, such a great life of journeying with people in their faith. So I’m excited to continue that journey. I’ll continue it there. I am looking forward to getting to know the people and priests as a bishop,” he said.

He already knows a few people in the diocese; his brother Royce Biegler and his wife, Kim, live in Gillette, and several nieces and nephews are in Wyoming. Fr. Steve Titus, the vocation director for the Diocese of Cheyenne was in Rome as a seminarian when Bishop-elect Biegler was a faculty member. Also, Fr. Andrew Kinstetter was a student at the School of Mines when Bishop-elect Biegler was the Newman Center Chaplain.

His episcopal ordination will be June 5. The West River Catholic will carry more details in the April issue.

(Editor’s note: Fr. Biegler is the second diocesan priest to be named a bishop. In 1978, Fr. Lawrence Welsh was named Bishop of Spokane. He later served as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.)

 

Cheyenne’s Gain

By Bishop Robert D. Gruss 
Diocese of Rapid City

Bishop Robert Gruss was a seminarian at North American College in Rome with Fr. Steve Biegler. As diocesan administrator he was the first from the Diocese of Rapid City to greet Bishop-elect Gruss when he arrived in Rapid City.

Fr. Steve was the only person I knew in the diocese when I came here. He was very helpful in being the history of the diocese for me. Being the administrator, Fr. Steve could fill in the missing links in my very limited understanding of the history of the diocese as well as the current challenges that I would be facing as I began my new ministry.

Fr. Steve is a very competent and gifted pastor. He has the many gifts necessary to shepherd the people entrusted to his care. I have always found him to be very wise and discerning. He has a good mind which allows him to look at a situation, dissect what needs to happen, and provide great insight into the solutions. He may not enjoy administration (many of us don’t, myself included), but I think he is good at it. He has many gifts which will be an asset as he begins this new assignment in his life.

The people of the Diocese of Cheyenne are getting an exceptional priest and pastor. Bishop-elect Biegler is grounded in a relationship with Christ which guides and directs his life and ministry as a shepherd. The folks in the Diocese of Cheyenne are getting one of the best! He will be a great blessing to his new diocese.

While I hate to see him leave the Diocese of Rapid City, I am honored and grateful to have Bishop-elect Biegler as a fellow bishop and a part of the Episcopacy. The church is enriched as a result of this assignment for him. I look forward to sharing this ministry of the wider church with him.

Anytime you lose a priest of his caliber, it is a great loss. He will be deeply missed in the Diocese of Rapid City, both as my vicar general and as a great pastor. And given the shortage of priests that we are currently facing, it makes this loss even greater. But just as the Holy Spirit led him to this new ministry in the Church, the Spirit will continue to provide for the Diocese of Rapid City. Of this I am certain.

I wish Bishop-elect Biegler only the very best in his new assignment and ministry. He will touch the lives of many people in the Diocese of Cheyenne just as he has touched the lives of many people here in the Diocese of Rapid City. He is such a gifted man and his deep love for the Lord and for the poor and less fortunate will envelop his life and ministry there as well. He can be assured of my prayers as he transitions to this new phase of his life and priesthood.