By Laurie Hallstrom
The Western South Dakota Catholic Foundation was created to insure the financial stability of ministries within the Diocese of Rapid City. It was established on December 30, 1992.
At the time of incorporation, Grant Trotter, Stewardship Director, was named executive director and Linda Batman assisted him. The mission of the foundation was established as promoting and strengthening the Catholic Church by providing people an opportunity to contribute to a permanent endowment fund, and make other types of gifts that will provide financial resources for meeting the spiritual needs of future generations of Catholics in the diocese.
The foundation is primarily the project of laity and it was encouraged by thenBishop Charles J. Chaput. Among the steps in establishing the foundation was the lengthy process of writing a constitution and by-laws that would govern the organization. A silent fundraising phase was immediately started by the newly formed organization with an original goal of $4 million.
Msgr. Michael Woster, serving as Diocesan Administrator at the time, continued with the silent phase with the help of foundation leadership, after Bishop Chaput was appointed Archbishop of Denver in 1997. President Ray Hilenbrand, with the support of Pat Goetzinger and Harvey Krautchun, conducted estate planning seminars and promoted the purpose of the foundation throughout the diocese. A significant portion of the original $4 million goal was raised between 1992 and 1998.
When Blase J. Cupich was ordained Bishop of Rapid City in September of 1998, the foundation began their campaign titled “Endowment 2000.” The initial strategy was to raise the remainder of the $4 million in five-year pledges. In December 1998, the newly ordained bishop said everyone contributing to the growth of the WSDCF should consider themselves “new founders of the future” of the church in the Diocese of Rapid City. “In working toward self-sufficiency for the ministries in the diocese, I sense that, people are willing to change their viewpoint from being a mission diocese, to a diocese with a mission,” he said.
At that time, the foundation’s first president, Ray Hillenbrand reminded everyone saying, “A large majority of the foundation’s annual fund distributions will to go to seminarian education, priest retirement, Catholic Social Services and the West River Catholic newspaper — programs that impact all areas of the diocese.”
Harvey Krautschun of Spearfish was the chairman of Endowment 2000. He was also elected the treasurer of the WSDCF board. At that time he said, “Foundations intrigue me, especially this one, because it reflects my spiritual beliefs. All too often people have the perception foundation work is driven by dollars. The reality is the opposite; what drives foundations and endowments is a common belief in our spirituality and our humanity as they come together; we can do more by uniting than by standing alone.
“The question is not, does the church need more money,” Krautschun said. “The question is, do we want to be active participants in making sure that what we have been blessed with continues for our children and grandchildren.”
People are encouraged to remember the foundation in their retirement and estate planning. The foundation incorporated the slogan, “Remember God’s Will in Yours.”
With the set goal of $4 million, in February 2000, the Endowment 2000 campaign became a parish drive encouraging all families to participate. Parishioners were told only the interest earned from investing the core money would be used to support the diocese and religious education and youth ministries were added to the list of recipients.
By March 2000, $3.5 million had been raised. As the fund grew, people began donating money for specific causes; those donations did not become part of the core investment and were dispersed according to the wishes of the donors.
At that time, Trotter, said, “A number of people have told me they would like to give to Endowment 2000, but are not able to make the kind of gift necessary for the Foundation to reach its goals. They feel they are not able to make a “large enough” gift …” Recalling the widow’s mite, he went on to say the fund had received gifts ranging from 85 cents up to $500,000.
In March 2001 Dwight Sobczak took over as president. In September that year, Bob Bickett became the executive director. In December the new executive director and foundation members launched a series of diocesan-wide meetings to raise awareness about the foundation and planned giving.
Catholic Heritage Society
In 2002, Shirley Stec and Dan Corrin from Stec’s Advertising Specialties designed a logo, which is still in use. Also in 2002, a Catholic Heritage Society was formed to recognize people who made deferred gifts to the foundation. A fund was established for monthly Masses to be celebrated at various locations, to remember the society’s members. Around that same time the foundation began sponsoring a donor reception after the annual Chrism Mass. The Mass is held at the same time as Pastoral Ministry Days and it attracts many people from outside Rapid City. The reception is a way to thank the donors.
In 2006, Doris Bride became the new assistant to Executive Director Bickett. Bishop Cupich was appointed Bishop of Spokane, Washington in 2010 and Bishop Robert Gruss was ordained for the Diocese of Rapid City in 2011. In 2013 Tim Henderson took over as executive director and in 2016 Elizabeth Siemieniak became the assistant. They are the current WSDCF staff.
Many other fundraising events have been strategized over the years. In 2001, the foundation hosted a Pheasant Hunt for Seminarians. The latest hunt was held October 3-4. In 2011 a fishing tournament was held at Ft. Pierre to benefit the people impacted by Missouri River flooding. In 2012 it evolved into the Bishop’s Fishing Tournament for Seminarian Education. It has been held in four of the past five years. In 2014 a Bishop’s Golf Classic was added to the fund raising events. It is held in conjunction with the Catholic Social Services and the Rapid City Catholic School System. This year the fourth annual golf tournament was held August 14, netting the three entities more than $30,000.
Sobczak stepped down in 2015 and Msgr. Woster of Spearfish became president. Tony Berendse, Rapid City, is currently serving as the foundation’s vice president. They, along with the executive director, are leading the WSDCF Board of Directors through a re-envisioning exercise to develop strategic approaches for improving the structure of the organization, set short and long-term goals, and implement actions that will guide the Foundation for the next 5-10 years.
As of June 30, 2017, the total WSDCF fund balance is $20,148,771, and unrestricted funds totaled $6,449,204. During the past 25 years the WSDCF has given out $9,288,131 to the diocese, parishes and Catholic organizations.
President Msgr. Woster is confident of the foundation’s future, stating, “Through its many donors in the past, the WSDCF has served the needs of the diocese since its inception. It is our belief that our re-envisioning and refocus of the Foundation’s purpose will serve the expanding mission of the Church for the years to come.”
To find out more about the foundation contact: WSDCF Executive Director Tim Henderson, PO Box 678 Rapid City, SD 57709, phone 605-343-3541 or email THenderson@diorc.org.