Sioux Spiritual Center Planning Team analyzing the center’s future

By Deacon Marlon Leneaugh
Director of Native Ministries

Mahpiya Na Maka Okoigna is the Lakota name given for the Sioux Spiritual Center. The name means; “a place between heaven and earth.” The name was given by a Lakota Spiritual leader, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe who used the analogy of the power of the Sacred Pipe when raised up during a ceremony to Christ being lifted up on the cross and being suspended between heaven and earth. The SSC represents a place that supports both Lakota spirituality and Catholicism.

The SSC was opened in 1977 by Bishop Harold Dimmerling as a place to support the Permanent Diaconate Program and to develop Native leadership among the Lakota people. It is a diocesan facility and ministry and has been traditionally staffed by Jesuit priests since itsscs beginning. They are responsible for administering the Ministry Formation Program and Diaconate Program for the diocese.

The work of the center is overseen by a Board of Directors comprised of the bishop, chancellor, Director of Native Ministry, Director of the SSC, Director of the Inculturation Project and eight appointed Lakota members from the five various reservations across the diocese. The bishop is responsible for appointing board members.

The facility has served the diocese well as a place to go for personal reflection and to take advantage of the many retreats that are offered. Hundreds of retreats have been held and thousands of people have come to love the center and the Jesuit priests who have served the people so well for many years. The center will always hold a special place in the hearts of many. The place is quite unique and one does not forget the times spent praying and basking in the love of the Father. Folks come away refreshed, renewed and spirituality uplifted.

After almost four decades of Jesuit leadership, the Jesuit Provincial has informed Bishop Robert Gruss that the Jesuits can no longer provide priests to staff SSC beyond June of 2017. This was unfortunate news, but yet not totally unexpected, due to the declining numbers of men entering the seminary.

Bishop Gruss has commissioned a team to study the situation and make recommendations. The committee consists of priests, deacons and lay people from across the diocese. The following are members of the Sioux Spiritual Center Planning Team and the telephone numbers where they can be reached.

Fr. Steve Biegler 787-5168

Fr. Ron Seminara 985-5906

Dcn. Cal Clifford 685-6893

Dcn. Steve McLaughlin 680-2936

Dcn. Marlon Leneaugh 343-3541

Jennifer Black Bear 747-2496

Rosalita Roach 964-3391

Veronica Valandra 867-5491

Bill White 455-2591

Ben Black Bear, III 747-2436

The committee will look at the purpose statement of the center, establish priorities, create a vision statement and address future funding and staffing issues. Presently the committee would like to hear comments concerning the center. If you have ideas or suggestions regarding the SSC, please contact one of the committee members. Your opinions, ideas, suggestions or comments are welcome and valuable to planning the future of the Sioux Spiritual Center.

Listed below is the current policy: The primary mission of the center is with and for the Lakota people of the Diocese of Rapid City and for the promotion of an inculturated Catholic Lakota Church. Thus our purpose is to work for the Lakota people as they develop their own church in their own style, a real Catholic Church rooted in Lakota culture and tradition.

Current Purpose: The purpose of the center is to provide a place where Lakota people of the diocese can come to pray and to provide a central location for the Ministry Formation Program.


Dr. Peter Kleponis Clergy Days Presentation

With help, porn addictions can be healed


Dr. Peter Kleponis visits with attendees after his talk on pornography addiction and ways to seek help for someone with an addiction. Click the photo to see the full video his public presentation at Terra Sancta, Rapid City.

By Laurie Hallstrom

Kicking porn addiction cannot be done with a Lone Ranger, pull yourself up by the boot straps approach according to Peter Kleponis, Ph.D. He has pioneered a Catholic approach to recovery. He was in Rapid City to address the clergy of the diocese during their annual Clergy Days retreat. He made a public presentation, May 25 at Terra Sancta, Rapid City.

He was trained as a couples and family counselor. About eight years ago his business shifted. More men were coming to him who were struggling with pornography. With married men it was usually their wives who were calling seeking help. After research he discovered there is a huge epidemic of men struggling with pornography addictions.

He went back to school to gain the skills needed to help in recovery.

He provided the Rapid City audience with a host of statistics, but then he said they are probably a gross underestimate because many people do not want to admit to the problem.

“Why are we being bombarded (with pornography) from every direction? It’s simple, money,” he said. He explained the billions of dollars made from exploiting women and children.

Of those addicted to porn he said two-thirds are men and one-third are women. He went on to explain men and women are wired differently. Men react to visual stimulation and view the images as being there for their pleasure. Women are looking for relationships — often described in romance novels.

He described the series of chemicals produced by the brain that cause addiction to be desirable.

“As with any addiction as tolerance grows you need more of the substance to get the same effect, dependency sets in, (and if a person cuts back) withdrawal symptoms occur,” he said.

He said treating the addiction is only part of the healing. The other part is addressing the underlying problems in the person’s life: family of origin, abuse, loneliness, trauma, insecurity and escapism. If the person is married you have to look at what is happening in that relationship.

Kleponis recommended limiting screen time. “Every night at 9 o’clock collect all the gadgets, turn them off and lock them away. Why? Kids need to realize they don’t need to be surgically attached to their technology 24- hours a day. They need time for their brains to decompress if they have had their face in a screen all day long, their brain is over stimulated, it needs time to relax and calm down,” he said.

Even adults need down time. He recommended turning off all technology before bedtime. “If you like to read, use old fashioned paper,” he said.

He has found support groups to be helpful in recovery. “You need support and accountability. You cannot do this alone, you have to surround yourself with other people who understand the struggle, and will support you and keep you accountable. And you do the same for them too,” he said.

Click here for the full video of Dr. Kleponis presentation

Chancery Housekeeper

Applications are being accepted for the full time position of Chancery Housekeeper
Click here for a full job description

To clean the Chancery offices, Monday through Friday, for approximately two hours each evening


Experience in cleaning with knowledge of cleaning products
Attention to detail and safety


Interested individuals can download and fill out the application form by calling or e-mailing Mark Hazel, Director of Diocesan Facilities. Contact him at 343-3541×219 or at

 The position is open until filled

(Click here for an application)

Duc in Altum 2016

Register with your parish today!

8.5"x11" Vertical Flyer Template

Questions: Call Shawna in the the Office of Vocations at 605-716-5214 x233 or email

Technology Support Specialist

Applications are being accepted for the full time position of Technology Support Specialist.
Click here for a full job description

The Technology Support Specialist has the following responsibilities:

  1. Provides network design, maintenance and support of the Diocesan computer services, hardware and software.
  2. Provides support and education to staff members regarding the use of technology.


  • Bachelors Degree or Associate Degree in Computer Science or Network Technology with understanding of Network Operating systems and Network Administration
  • Experience in providing software support
  • Possession of Industry certifications desirable
  • Respects the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church
  • Demonstrates good written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to work with diverse staff in a team atmosphere

Download and complete the application form and submit it by mail or e-mail with a resume and a cover letter to:

Office of the Chancellor
Diocese of Rapid City
606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City SD 57701

The Diocese of Rapid City offers a competitive salary and benefits package. Open until filled.

(An application can be downloaded here)

St. Katharine Drexel — June 2016

St Katharine(Mother M. Francis Xavier McCann and St. Katharine Drexel with Navajo men and two Franciscans near St. Michaels, Ariz, where the Sister of the Blessed Sacrament teach at St. Michael Indian School. Photo courtesy of the Archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.)

Katharine Drexel was born in Philadelphia into a wealthy family in 1858. Her mother died when she was only five-weeks old, and her father remarried a kind woman who became a devoted mother. Her parents taught her from an early age that their wealth was not their own and should be shared with others. Katherine received a private education at home and traveled widely throughout the United States and Europe. Her parents distributed food, clothing, and rent assistance to the poor from their home.

When they heard of someone too ashamed to come for help, they assisted them quietly, as their stepmother taught them, “Kindness may be unkind if it leaves a sting behind.”

In Katharine’s travels, she saw first-hand the difficult situation of African Americans and Native Americans and was determined to use her wealth for good to assist them. At about age 27, when her parents died, Katharine inherited a vast fortune. She immediately began to contribute money for schools and missions, establishing a school for Native Americans in Sante Fe, N.M., for African Americans in New Orleans, La., and to assist the mission at St. Francis on the Rosebud Reservation, and many other places.

Although she had received several marriage proposals, Katherine determined to give her whole life and fortune to God for the good of others. She spoke to her spiritual director, Bishop James O’Connor of Omaha, Neb., about her desire to join a contemplative religious community, but he directed her to spend more time in prayer about this.

While in Europe, Katharine and her sisters had an opportunity for an audience with Pope Leo XIII. She asked him to recommend a religious community who could serve in the missions she was supporting financially. The pope recommended that Katharine become a missionary herself. Despite the objections of family members, Katharine entered the Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh, Pa. Soon after, with thirteen other women, she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who were dedicated to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and to serving African and Native Americans.

Mother Katherine suffered a heart attack in her late 70s, and as she became more infirm, she dedicated her remaining years to prayer and adoration of the Eucharist. She died in 1955 at the age of 96 and was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000. Although harassed for years by segregationists, at the time of her death, St. Katharine’s community had more than 500 sisters serving in more than 60 schools and missions around the country. Her life was a testimony to mercy.

Prayer to St. Katharine
God of love, you called Saint Katharine Drexel to teach the message of the Gospel and to bring the life of the Eucharist to the Native American and African American peoples; by her prayers and example, enable us to work for justice among the poor and the oppressed, and keep us undivided in love in the Eucharistic community of your Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Speaker to address porn addiction

By Chancery Staff

One of the most harmful problems and grave issues in our culture today is pornography. Addiction to pornography is a serious problem in epidemic proportions. The rapid growth to this addiction has grown exponentially in the Internet age.

Pornography is addictive in any medium, but because the Internet is at our fingertips on many different types of devices, it is much easier for people to view pornography at any time and any place. This multi-billion dollar industry corrupts the minds of its viewers, exploits people of all ages including children, creates a sex-crazed culture, and destroy lives and families.

Some estimates put pornography use among churchgoing men at 50 percent, a figure that differs little from use among the adult male population at large. Studies also show that 90 percent of children ages 8 through 16 have viewed pornography online and children ages 12 through 17 are the largest single group of users of Internet porn. The average age when a child first encounters hard-core pornography is 11. Eighty percent of 15-17 year olds have had multiple exposures to hard-core pornography. Studies also reveal that 89 percent of all solicitations of youth in chat rooms are of a sexual nature and 29 percent of 7-17 year olds would freely give out their addresses online. These statistics are startling and speak of the seriousness of this issue in our society and culture today.

Because it is important that the church address this issue, at the November 2015 General Assembly, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the formal statement “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography” as a response to this great problem in our society today. It can be found on the USCCB website: http://www.usccb. org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/pornography/index.cfm.

There is a great pastoral need in our local church to address this issue as well. It will be the main topic for the clergy of the diocese this year at their annual Clergy Days on May 25.

Peter C. Kleponis, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Therapist and Assistant Director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in Conshohocken, Pa. will be making four presentations to the priests on fighting pornography in our culture, protecting families and helping those in recovery.

Dr. Kleponis has over 18 years of professional experience working with individuals, couples, families and organizations. He specializes in marriage and family therapy, pastoral counseling, resolving anger, men’s issues and pornography addiction recovery and is certified in the diagnosis and treatment of sexual addictions. Dr. Kleponis travels throughout the country educating people on how to win the battle against pornography through his program, “Fighting Porn in Our Culture … and Winning!” He has also been a guest on EWTN television programs such as “Women of Grace,” “Franciscan University Presents,” and “Crossing the Goal.” He is a regular guest on Relevant Radio’s program, “On Call.” Dr. Kleponis resides in Phoenixville, Pa.,with his wife, Maria, and their sons, John and Matthew.

Dr. Kleponis recently published the book, “Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography.” For more information go to:

He has agreed to give a free evening presentation to the public on the effects of pornography in our culture and what we can do to fight it. It will take place on Wednesday, May 25, 7 p.m. in Holy Cross Chapel at the Terra Sancta Retreat Center. All are invited to attend. Come and learn how you can help in this fight to win the battles against this epidemic!


St. Margaret Mary Alacoque — May 2016

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque grew up in seventeenth-century France during a time of rebellion against the church and a turning away from her teachings. Margaret’s father died when she was about eight years old, and so she was sent to live and go to school with the Urbanist Sisters. She grew in devotion and loved the life of the convent, but had to be sent home when a paralyzing illness kept her bedridden for four years. She made a vow to the Blessed Mother to give herself to religious life and recovered, but, following her father’s death, the family farm had been taken over by relatives until her brother came of age and took possession of the property. The relatives were unkind to her mother and controlling of Margaret’s every move, and she was often not even permitted to attend church. Once the farm reverted to her brother, their situation improved, and Margaret’s mother encouraged her daughter to marry. Out of love for her mother, Margaret spent time in discernment about this, and began to enter into worldly activities. One night, upon returning from a ball, she had a vision of the scourged Jesus who called her away from the world and back to himself, having given her so many signs of his love, and at age 20, she made the decision to enter a convent.

During the time between her application and admission to the convent, Margaret dedicated herself to helping and teaching some of the neglected children in her village. Eventually she made her profession with the nuns of the Order of the Visitation at Paray-le-Monial, a community founded by St. Francis de Sales and known for humility and selflessness. The name of Mary was added to her name, and she was assigned to the infirmary. She struggled with her tasks bu
t grew in love and virtue.

Margaret Mary then began to have mystical experiences in which the Lord invited her to take the place of St. John at the Last Supper and revealed to her that he wished the love of his heart to be made known and spread to all people. He showed her how much he desired to be loved by all and to pour out his love and mercy upon them, to reveal all of the treasures of his heart. He appointed the Friday after the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi as the solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Jesus desired that the graces of his Sacred Heart be made known through her, but when Margaret Mary approached her superior with this, she did not believe her. Margaret Mary fell seriously ill and was dying when the mother superior began to think perhaps her story were true, and told the Lord that if Margaret Mary recovered, she would take it as a sign that her visions were authentic. Margaret Mary did recover and the mother superior invited some theologians to hear her story, but they determined the visions to be delusions. Eventually, a Jesuit priest, Fr. Claude de la Columbiere, believed in her revelations and set out to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and put the life and visions of St. Margaret Mary in writing, and so the Jesuits to this day continue his work. St. Margaret Mary died at the age of 43, saying at the end of her life, “I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.” Devotion to the Sacred Heart grew through the work of St. Claude de la Columbiere and St. John Eudus. In Margaret Mary’s vision, the Lord spoke: “Look at this heart which has loved men so much, and yet men do not want to love me in return. Through you my divine Heart wishes to spread its love everywhere on earth.”

The Twelve Promises of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary for those devoted to his Sacred Heart:

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their families.
  3. I will console them in all their troubles.
  4. They shall find in my heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
  5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in my heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
  9. I will bless the homes where an image of my heart shall be exposed and honored.
  10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in my heart, never to be effaced.
  12. The all-powerful love of my heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the first Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; my heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Prayer to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (in old English)
Saint Margaret Mary, thou who wast made a partaker of the divine treasures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, obtain for us, we beseech thee, from this adorable Heart, the graces we need so sorely. We ask these favors of thee with unbounded confidence. May the divine Heart of Jesus be pleased to bestow them upon us through thy intercession, so that once again He may be loved and glorified through thee. Amen.

V. Pray for us, O blessed Margaret;
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst wondrously open the unsearchable riches of Thy Heart to blessed Margaret Mary, the virgin: grant unto us, by her merits and our imitation of her, that we may love Thee in all things and above all things, and may be worthy to have our everlasting dwelling in the same Sacred Heart: who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, to thee I consecrate and offer up my person and my life, my actions, trials, and sufferings, that my entire being may henceforth only be employed in loving, honoring and glorifying thee. This is my irrevocable will, to belong entirely to thee, and to do all for thy love, renouncing with my whole heart all that can displease thee.

I take thee, O Sacred Heart, for the sole object of my love, the protection of my life, the pledge of my salvation, the remedy of my frailty and inconstancy, the reparation for all the defects of my life, and my secure refuge at the hour of my death. Be thou, O Most Merciful Heart, my justification before God thy Father, and screen me from His anger which I have so justly merited. I fear all from my own weakness and malice, but placing my entire confidence in thee, O Heart of Love, I hope all from thine infinite Goodness. Annihilate in me all that can displease or resist thee. Imprint thy pure love so deeply in my heart that I may never forget thee or be separated from thee.

I beseech thee, through thine infinite goodness, grant that my name be engraved upon thy heart, for in this I place all my happiness and all my glory, to live and to die as one of thy devoted servants. Amen.

Petition to open the cause for Black Elk canonization

black elk family

George Looks Twice, center, and the grandchildren of Nicholas Black Elk stand before Bishop Robert Gruss and Deacon Marlon Leneaugh, director of Native Ministries, after presenting a petition requesting the diocese to nominate Black Elk for the cause for canonization.

(WRC photo)






Bishop Gruss,

  Hehani waste’, Cante wasteya nape ciuzapelo. Good morning, I greet you with a good heart and a warm handshake in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

My name is George Looks Twice, I am an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation and a member of Our Lady of the Sioux Parish in Oglala, South Dakota, where I was commissioned a Lay Minister for the Rapid City Diocese in 2009. I am the eldest of three grandsons and two granddaughters of the Oglala Holy Man, Chief, and Catechist Nicholas Black Elk.

It is with great honor and privilege to be present on this historical day with my relatives, fellow tribal members, other native people, priests and lay ministers from across the diocese to present you with this petition. The petition contains over 1600 signatures from people of goodwill across the United States and Canada. The petition requests that the Diocese of Rapid City proceed as the petitioner to nominate Nicholas Black Elk, Sr. for the cause for canonization.

Our grandfather, Nicholas, was born in 1866 into a lineage of great medicine men; and atop Hinhan Kaga, “The Making of Owls” (Harney Peak) Tunkasila (God) blessed him with a great vision, and his gifts were affirmed as he went on to became a recognized healer and respected medicine man at a very young age.

Curious about Christianity, he began to watch and study. In 1885, he learned about Kateri Tekakwitha and signed the petition supporting the cause for her canonization. In 1904, he met a Jesuit priest who invited him to study Christianity at Holy Rosary Mission, near Pine Ridge, S.D. He did so, and on the feast of St. Nicholas, December 6, he was baptized Nicholas William. Saint Nicholas, appealed to him because he exhibited a model of Christian charity that resonated with grandpa’s role as a traditional spiritual leader and his own generosity in service to the Native People.

Believing that Wakantanka, the Great Spirit, called him to greater service, he became a Christian and practiced his Lakota ways as well as the Catholic religion. He was comfortable praying with his pipe and his rosary and participated in Mass and Lakota ceremonies on a regular basis.

In 1907 the Jesuits appointed him a catechist because of his love of Christ, his enthusiasm and excellent memory for learning scripture and Church teachings. Like St. Paul, he traveled widely to various reservations; preaching, sharing stories and teaching the Catholic faith with his “Two Roads Model” of catechism. He is attributed to having over 400 native people baptized, and since then his books and model lifestyle have inspired countless others in their spiritual journeys.

He died in 1950 having lived an exemplary life of being faithful to Tunkasila and always wanting to serve the native people.

There are many who are waiting to share the joy of the day when Nicholas Black Elk, Sr., will be counted among the company of saints by Holy Mother Church.

We thank you bishop for this opportunity to make this presentation to you on behalf of the Black Elk family, our grandfather Nicholas and all the people of God who support this cause.

  God Bless you! 
 Mitakuye Oyasin,

George Looks Twice, Virginia Black Elk (Iyotte), Nicholas (Patrick) Black Elk,  Gerald Black Elk, Caroline Black Elk, Matthew Black Elk


Deacon ordinations held




Bishop Robert Gruss ordained three men to the permanent diaconate on March 31 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City. A member of the Ministry Formation Program team, Deacon Pat Coy, Hill City, looks on during the traditional laying on of hands, as Andy Clark, Gregory, is ordained a deacon. Altar servers Mary Kinyon and Joseph Hill and Fr. Michel Mulloy, cathedral rector, are in the background. Those ordained were Deacons Lloyd Frein, Philip; Andy Clark, Gregory; and Craig Pearson, Hot Springs. (WRC photo by Becky Berreth)




ord group

(Left to right) Fr. Ron Seminara, SJ, Howes; Margie Pearson and Deacon Craig Pearson, Hot Springs; Deacon Llyod Frein and Marianne Frein, Philip; Deacon Andy Clark and Patty Clark, Gregory; Deacon Pat Coy and Fran Coy, Hill City; Fr. Peter Etzel, SJ, Howes; and Bishop Robert Gruss, Rapid City. After the ordinations, the new deacons and their wives are shown with the Ministry Formation team. The team includes Fathers Etzel and Seminara and the Coys. (WRC photo by Becky Berreth)