Enjoy the June edition of the West River Catholic
Immaculate Heart Hermitage is a new home for Sr. Mary Catherine Jacobs who will reside in the Diocese of Rapid City as a hermit.
Originally from Ralph, she entered religious life at age 18 at the Carmel of Mary Monastery at Wahpeton, N.D. It is a cloistered contemplative order with a devotion to imitating the Blessed Mother.
“Mary is very much a part of my life,” she said. “Every grace I received came to me through her hands.”
The monastery in N. D. was founded in 1954, the Marian year. “I was there 30 years and began to know the eremitical calling (to become a hermit) around 1986. Vatican II talked about going back to your roots so I felt very strongly that I was being called back to what we lived in the origin of the order.
“Reading the Holy Father’s encyclical on “Rich in Mercy,” St. John Paul II speaks of conversion to the father as an experience of knowing the trinity dwells in every soul.
“I felt called to a life of prayer. You can reach into everybody’s heart by prayer,” said Sr. Mary Catherine.
She first explored the hermetic life in Chester, New Jersey. She also lived in communities in Texas and a new community starting in Brazil. After much contemplation she discerned her calling was to live not in community, but as a solitary hermit.
She talked to Fr. Dan Juelfs, who used to be a neighbor at Ralph. He said he would speak with Bishop Robert Gruss. After interviewing her last fall and reviewing her references, the bishop gave his consent for establishing a hermitage. This is new to the diocese, so the Handbook for Hermetic Life was adapted from the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. The bishop appointed Fr. Leo Hausmann, director of Eremitic Life. Fr. Mark McCormick is her spiritual director.
“My hermitage is not a place where I get away, it’s where I meet the whole world in prayer and in Christ, because Christ prays for everyone. It’s almost like an infinite vocation — not limited to time or space, nobody is excluded. The whole world is in there from the beginning of creation until the end because God is there,” said Sr. Mary Catherine.
“We are each individuals and are to have a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord. The hermit is to be an icon of the time we are to be personally relating to the Lord,” she said. “I live in silence and solitude and that is to some degree everybody’s calling. The hermit is to be an intercessor, to let Christ pray his prayer through her, that’s what we all seek.”
She will make her temporal eremitic vows at 11 a.m. Mass on June 29 at Our Lady of the Black Hills, Piedmont. She attends daily Mass there and at St. Martin Monastery. The church has a box set up for prayer requests and prayer requests can be sent to her at email@example.com.
According to diocesan policy, hermits residing in the Diocese of Rapid City are required to be self-supporting. Sr. Mary Catherine partially supports herself by painting and selling icons and painting artwork for Christmas and Easter cards, bookmarks and holy cards. To view her artwork for sale, go to Land of Carmel Art Inspirations at carmelartinspirations.com. She also sews Mass linens for the Carmelites in Wahpeton in order to bring in money.
Immaculate Heart Hermitage has been established by Sr. Mary Catherine as a non-profit organization in the State of South Dakota with a board of trustees so that she can receive donations to help support herself and her ministry. For anyone who would like to inquire about how they can support her ministry, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ghosts, the devil and witchcraft — topics Catholics should be aware of, were the subjects of a lecture open to the public given by Fr. Dennis McManus, an exorcist. He spoke May 24 at Terra Sancta, Rapid City. He was in the Diocese of Rapid City to address the clergy at their annual Clergy Convocation.
Father McManus began by explaining ghosts are essentially souls of humans separated from their bodies after or near death. “Our nation has a thing about magic, witchcraft and ghosts,” he said. “All together there are 32 shows on television about ghosts, zombies, dead people or (demonic) possession.”
He commended Pope Francis for talking frequently about the devil. “What he wants us to know as Catholics is that the devil is a real individual. The devil’s biggest trick in the modern world is to fool us and make us think he doesn’t really exist,” said Father McManus. “If you don’t believe in the devil, you pretty much are a sitting duck for him to be able to do with you what he wants. If we are aware of things we are less likely to be manipulated or fooled by them.”
He cautioned the audience not to be “all jittery sitting home and worrying the devil is going to come visit.” According to McManus, “The devil is not God. He doesn’t have God’s powers. You are a baptized person, (if) you live even a modest Catholic life, go to church occasionally and say your prayers, you stink to the devil. The devil doesn’t hang around Catholics or Protestants or Jews who love God.”
Since the Civil War, the south is full of haunted houses below the Mason Dixon line. “The first thing we have to think about is ghosts are not demons or devils. Ghosts are the souls of the faithful departed whom God has allowed to be in touch with us who are still alive — usually in the place where they lived or died, or did something wrong. Ghosts ask for help to make things right, for the forgiveness of sins,” he said. “Almost all cases of hauntings resolve themselves once a priest has come and said Mass in the place where the ghost was.
“When Mass is offered just for the soul of that one person, they are set free, and off they go to paradise because Mass is the great sacrifice of Jesus himself. Our salvation was purchased by the blood of Jesus.”
Father McManus gave several examples of ghosts in the Bible. In the Gospels, when the apostles see Jesus walking on the water they think he is a ghost. After the resurrection, when Jesus appears in the upper room, again they think he is a ghost. He challenges them by asking Thomas to touch his wounds and wanting something to eat.
“Ghosts for the Jews had only one purpose — to get revenge. The apostles are screaming and afraid. They figure Jesus is angry with them and has come back to get even,” said McManus referring to the betrayal by Judas and Peter denying he knows the Lord. On the day of the resurrection, 500 ghosts rose from the dead and walked through Jerusalem.
“God needed the Jews to see Jesus sets the dead free,” he said.
“How many times in your life have you lost someone, a husband, a wife, God forbid a child, brother or sister, and you have dreamt of them?” he asked. “Occasionally we have seen them especially at the time of their death. They come to say goodbye and to ask for prayers.”
Using his nickname for the devil, he said, “Old Red Legs has nothing to do with ghosts. He can’t get his hands on ghosts even if he tried because ghosts are already in purgatory — on their way to heaven. God allows them to ask the church for help in this entrance to heaven. There are a million entrances into the dark kingdom and only one into heaven.”
Father McManus recounted the story of two high school girls who brought him a Ouija board they had been using for a year. The planchette was starting to move on it’s own without their hands. When he recommended they quit using it, the girls refused saying they used it to learn “secret stuff.” They were addicted to the flow of information and couldn’t stop. He offered to fix it for them and got out a hammer and smashed it. They protested.
“It won’t bother you again,” he said. “What I wrecked is your dependency. I’m warning you whatever moves something by itself is no friend.”
He continued his talk discussing witchcraft, which is prevalent in many cultures.
“In my part of the world, in Mobile, Ala., it’s voodoo. To get even with somebody, go to a voodoo witch — ‘that guy cheated me out of money,’ ‘that man took away my son,’ ‘that woman wrecked my marriage …’”
Bishops will call him, all shook up, when churches are vandalized. He explains that is a rite of passage for a coven. Father McManus said the number of covens is growing attended by white American lawyers, doctors, ministers, professors and businessmen worshiping Satan. “There are now more covens than there are parish churches, convents, schools and clinics put together,” he said. “They promise you whatever you like — drugs, sex, booze, money, jobs, position, anything. It’s all on condition that you do what you are asked to do at a future date.” That could include theft or murder.
The exorcist concluded with possession. It occurs when a human consents to form a long-term relationship with a demon.
Exorcism puts an end to the relationships between demons and humans. The person has to reject, renounce and rebuke what ever it is they are supplying.
“Then the power of Jesus can come in and break the bonds,” he said. “If you go to hell it was your choice. God will use any little scrap of our life to make sure we won’t go to hell.”
At times, people say to me, “Fr. Mark, I just don’t hear Jesus speak to me. I do not hear his voice.”
When I hear this, I ask them to describe their life of prayer to me and often they are saying prayers but not praying. They are not sharing their feelings, thoughts and desires with Jesus and allowing Jesus to speak to them in the silence of their hearts.
And more often than not they are not reading the Scriptures either. It is in silence and in the Scriptures — the word of God — that Jesus speaks to our hearts.
Pope Francis says about the word of God, “Take it, carry it with you, and read it every day, it is Jesus himself who is speaking to you…. The important thing is to read the word of God, by any means, but read the word of God. It is Jesus who speaks to us there. Welcome it with an open heart. Then the good seed will bear fruit!”
At Pastoral Ministry Days in 2016, Msgr. Thomas Richter, rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, gave us a simple guide to help us spend time every day in prayer, reading, listening and hearing Jesus speak to us through His life-giving Word.
We read in Hebrews, “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account” (Heb 4:12-13).
The best way I know how to hear the voice of Jesus speaking to me in the depths of my heart is to spend time with him every day, in silence, reading and listening to his words in the Scriptures. The problem is that most of us are not faithful and consistent to a regular pattern of daily prayer, and then we wonder why we never hear Jesus speak to our hearts.
In his book “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: How Engaging 1% of Catholics Could Change the World,” Matthew Kelly says that Dynamic Catholics, which are about 7 percent of all Catholics, have a regular routine time for prayer. What does this mean? Kelly says, “They tend to pray the same time every day and they tend to pray in the same place every day.”
Kelly goes on to say that “most people when they pray sit down and see what happens, and of course very often nothing happens. So they get frustrated and stop praying. When Dynamic Catholics sit down to pray they don’t just see what happens; they have a plan, they have a routine and routine within the routine.”
I challenge you to pray for a half hour every day, at the same time every day, and in the same place every day, for the next month. Be not afraid! Give it a try! Use the simple format that Msgr. Richter laid out for us as the plan for your 30 minutes of prayer every day.
I am also asking that you find a person, maybe it’s your spouse, a friend, a coworker, a parishioner or your pastor, to help keep you accountable to this new routine of prayer in your life. Are you willing to accept this challenge?
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website provides the daily readings: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/. While the site provides both readings and the Psalm, you can use any one of the Scriptures for the day in this prayer time. The site also offers an audio version for each of the day’s readings, which offers you an opportunity to share this prayer practice with someone who is visually impaired. See the guide below for other ideas.
Msgr. Richter’s Prayer Guide
“If I want to spend time with Jesus in daily prayer, what would it look like?”
This is what it would looks like … Below is a general outline of what personal prayer looks like in the hearts of prayerful people throughout the centuries. Follow the suggestions for committing to daily prayer.
Begin by meditating on the following quote “God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2567).
What do you want?
Look in your heart; look at your life. What do you want? What do you really want from God? Tell God right now what you need from him during this time of prayer.
Now read a passage from the Bible Maybe it’s the day’s Psalm; maybe it’s one of the readings from the daily Mass; maybe it’s one of the readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass. Simply find a passage from Scripture. Read the passage slowly. Get familiar with the text. Read the passage a second time, this time reading even more slowly. Very, very slowly read the passage a third time. Pay attention to which word, words or phrases “tug” at your heart or get your attention.
Take some time now to think about your life Think about the reality of your life. What word, words, or phrases from the Scripture passage speak to you? How does the Scripture passage connect to your life? Look deep within.
Next, talk to God
Share everything with Him. Talk to Him as you would talk to your most trusted friend. Talk to God like Moses did: “The Lord used to speak to Moses face-to-face, as one man speaks to another” (Ex 33:11).
Then listen — God will speak to you
Maybe God will speak to you through a thought in your head … or a song in your heart … or a memory … or a desire in your body. Listen with all your senses.
Return to the Scripture passage
Read it slowly one more time. What word, words, or phrases speak to you again?
What can you do?
Think about what you can do today, this week, to act upon what God has revealed to you. Practically speaking, in your real life, what can you do?
Thank the Lord
Finally, thank the Lord. Blessings are specific and so should be your gratitude. Tell God specifically what you’re thankful for.
Please do not become discouraged if what you had hoped for didn’t happen
during a time of prayer. Don’t give up. This is about having a friendship with Jesus. Continue to practice the steps as you
cultivate your daily prayer life.
Let me know how this approach to prayer works for you. Contact me at (605) 716-5214 ext. 233 or MMcCormick @diorc.org.
It is hard to believe that only nine weeks ago we celebrated the Sacred Triduum and Easter Sunday. I recall the great joy of those who answered the call to enter into the Catholic faith on that Holy Saturday night. Each in their own way answered the call to come and follow Jesus in a new way.
Since Easter, I have been on the confirmation circuit, traversing the diocese, helping those who were confirmed to come to a deeper understanding of what Jesus is asking of them as he pours out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon them, sharing with them the seven gifts which will help them to become mature disciples. These gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit have been given to all who have been confirmed so that all of us can live as true witnesses of Christ in our everyday lives. This is our call in Christ. As to whether we take it seriously, only each of us can answer for ourselves.
This is at the heart of the mission of the Diocese of Rapid City. I wonder, even after the Diocesan Priority Plan was promulgated and Through Him, With Him, and In Him – A Spiritual Guide to the Diocesan Priority Plan was shared across the diocese, if most parishioners would know the mission statement of the diocese — it is the mission statement of each one of us.
Here it is again: We, the Diocese of Rapid City, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are called to attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim and live the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.
This propels us into the New Evangelization, stemming from our baptism and strengthened through the sacrament of confirmation. In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis has been very clear about this in writing: “The word of God constantly shows us how God challenges those who believe in him “to go forth.” In our day Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges to the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new missionary “going forth.” Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel” (#20).
In response to this call the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken seriously Pope Francis’ exhortation to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy of the Gospel growing in our own call to missionary discipleship of Jesus Christ as well as helping to form others in this call.
The USCCB is convening “The Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America” on July 1-4 in Orlando, Florida. Under the guidance of the bishops, this gathering of diverse Catholic leaders from around the country will provide an opportunity for the church of the United States, to
examine today’s concerns, challenges and opportunities in the light of the church’s mission of evangelization. They will be equipped to go forth, ready to engage the world with the joy of the Gospel. The Diocese of Rapid City will be represented by a diverse team of fourteen leaders from across the diocese.
Two key outcomes for the convocation include: first, leaders will be equipped and re-energized to share the Gospel as missionary disciples, and second, they will come away with new insights from participation in strategic conversation about current challenges and opportunities informed by new research, communication strategies and successful models. From these conversations, the hope is that participants will bring back — to the diocese, their parishes and our ministries — tools, resources and renewed inspiration to apply and move forward the “Joy of the Gospel” and Pope Francis’ desire to create a church of missionary disciples who lead others to a “missionary conversion” so that, together as the body of Christ, we can have a profound impact on the culture and society in a dynamic way.
This convocation will be of great value as we move forward the mission of the Diocese of Rapid City. To that goal, I would ask that this Convocation of Catholic Leaders, its participants and the ministry which flow forth from it be lifted up in your daily prayers, asking the Holy Spirit to direct and guide these efforts. Pastors, please include an intercession for this intention in the Prayers of the Faithful at the weekend Masses of July 1-2.
Only together can we live our mission and build the kingdom of God in western South Dakota. May God abundantly bless you and your families.
As I was preparing for a men’s retreat at Holy Cross in Timber Lake, I came across this phrase: “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible, no bed” by Fr. Larry Richards. He has breathed and lived this saying for over 25 years.
He tells this story of making his priest retreat before his ordination and Msgr. Peterson (then Father
Peterson) asked him to sit before the Blessed Sacrament. He told him, “Just go before the Blessed Sacrament, ask God to reveal his word to you. Open the word of God and whatever comes is God’s word to you.”
Since this time, Father Richards has made this practice a part of his life. Every morning he opens the Bible and reads, and when a word, phrase or verse tugs at his heart, he stops and prays with it. He writes it down, puts it in his pocket and throughout the day he pulls it out and re-reads it. Pondering and reflecting in his heart and connecting the word of God to his life.
This pondering and reflecting upon God’s word in one’s heart, we learn from our Blessed Mother Mary, who models for us so beautifully and powerfully the need and the desire of meditating and contemplating on what God is doing in her life. Bringing forth the Incarnate word of God, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of the world: “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).
Father Richards encourages others to pray this way. He suggests that before one picks up their Bible, they should pray a fervent prayer to the Holy Spirit asking the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s word to them. Then open the Bible randomly, letting your finger point to a passage. Then simply read the Scriptures until the word of God tugs at your heart.
When something grabs you, stop and pray with God’s word. Realize that you might read a few verses, or perhaps even several chapters, before the Lord tugs at your heart. The key is to read until the Lord tugs at your heart with a word, words or phrase from Scripture.
Since the men’s retreat, I have been using this prayer method outlined by Father Richards when I wake up in the morning and before I go to bed, remembering — “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible, no bed.” Sometimes a word tugs at my heart right away and sometimes I read three or four chapters before the Lord really tugs at my heart revealing his words of mercy, love, forgiveness and truth to me.
It has been a lot of fun reading and praying the Scriptures this way. It is amazing that I find myself in parts of the Bible I’ve never read before, usually coming away with one of those “wow moments” of encountering the living God.
In March, I taught this method of “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible no bed” to students participating in the Veritatis Splendor Institute (VSI), sponsored by the Office of Faith Formation in the diocese.
Shortly after that, Angela Weber the music teacher, at St. Thomas More High School, was diagnosed with cancer. The morning after receiving her cancer diagnosis, she was restless, troubled, and filled with anxiety. Angela thought of that simple phrase of “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible no bed.” So Angela opened her Bible and asked the Holy Spirit to show her what the Lord wanted to say to her. Her Bible fell open to 1 Corinthians 10:13: “God is faithful and he will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide you a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.”
Since then, Angela has shared with me several times the words that the Lord is revealing to her as she journeys through her battle with cancer. Reading God’s word before breakfast and before bed has truly been her daily bread. One of my favorites — one that made me laugh — was when Angela lost her hair.
The word that Angela received was from Luke 12:6-7: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
The very next day Angela wrote to me: “Sorry to bother you again so soon. Okay. You’re not going to believe this; this morning my Bible fell open to Matthew 10:30, ‘But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.’ I am so spoiled by God!’”
I love the way Angela talks about this practice. She says, “The word is alive,” and then continues:
“The experience of Scripture as the word actually and truly alive has come to me in a strong way through the practice of asking the Holy Spirit in the morning and in the evening what the Lord has to say to me today, and then letting the Bible fall open where it may.
“As I read I am taken in immediately by whatever is going on in the Scriptures at that point in the Bible, and I read until there are words that strike me to the heart telling me this is what the Lord wants to say to me today. Sometimes, as Father Mark says, it comes right away, and sometimes I have to read for a bit before my heart hears the word the Lord wants to say to me.
“It is so striking how easy it is to sit and read in anticipation of what the Lord will say actively to me for the day! In this way the word is ‘alive’ for me in a new and exciting way.
“Just recently, I received the word from Jeremiah 29:11-14: ‘For I know well the plans I have in mind for you — plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a
future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, and I will change your lot…’”
“Since then, that Scripture has come to me three-fold in cards and notes of encouragement. The Lord really, really wants me to know this!
“In my sickness these days, I feel like I barely give enough to make a difference in the classes I teach, the concerts for which we are preparing, etc. Just yesterday, I was reminded of this from Luke 21:3-4: ‘I tell you truly, the poor widow put in more than all the rest, for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.’”
“I have never gone as far as to give away my whole livelihood to the church, but I have given all I have that’s in me so that my students succeed. This spring it has felt like I am giving from a great poverty. God reassures me he is multiplying my poor offering.”
This month give “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible no bed” a try.
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.
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.
(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:
- Are we making a measurable difference in the community or simply serving our members?
- Are we mobilized for mission or
insisting on business as usual?
- Are we here to preserve our broken systems or are we willing to go where God is blessing?”
- 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.
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.”
606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
Chancery Annex at Terra Sancta
2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
Terra Sancta Retreat Center
2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
Victim Assistance Coordinator