August 17, 2017
As the summer comes to a close for the Office of Vocations from the many activities and events, this quote from the French educator Jean Baptiste Massieu comes to mind, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” The summer’s activities began when I attended training week at Broom Tree Retreat Center with our two Duc In Altum teams. They then spent June and July crisscrossing the diocese teaching our children and youth in 13 parishes. I launched into Girls and Boys Totus Tuus Camps with 39 High School leaders, 105 middle school campers, 25 religious Sisters from 13 different communities (Girls Camp) and 10 of our own priests (Boys Camp) participating in the weeklong camps, plus the 40+ disciples (volunteers) needed for a successful camp. Between camps, there were the two Steubenville High School Conferences in Denver, CO and Rochester, MN with over 100 youth and 25 Adult leaders participating from our diocese. When I think of all of these things, my heart is overflowing with gratitude. The more I recall and relive these memories, the more my heart is filled with the abundant love that God has showered upon our children, youth and families this summer.
Watching Michael Craven, who has a prosthetic leg, which he didn’t use when he climbed 2 of the three courses at Nora’s Wall at Sylvan Lake during Boys Totus Tuus, was an inspiration to everyone who watched and cheered Michael on— Amazing Grace. To see a young freshman from Lemmon, Kole Reede, a junior leader, lead his small group of middle schoolers in faith sharing and an Examen at the end of the night was a blessing. To see 8 of our young men and women come forward during the altar call at the Steubenville Conferences expressing a desire in their own heart to be open to the possibility that Jesus might be calling them to priesthood and religious life made this spiritual father proud.
As your summer comes to a close and our children, youth, young adults, families and parishes prepare for another school year, take some time this week to recall and relive some of the graces you have received from this past summer. Let this grace flow from a grateful heart. As Meister Eckhart, the 14th century Dominican mystic, wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say is ‘thank you,’ that will suffice.”
August 11, 2017
All the parishes by this time should have received their posters and fliers for the third annual Stewardship Summit being held Friday- Saturday, September 29 – 30 at the Terra Sancta Retreat Center in Rapid City. I hope you have noticed them!
As another way to help publicize this year’s Stewardship Summit in your parishes we have produced a short, eight-minute DVD. In the DVD, several parishioners from the diocese, who have participated in the Summit in the past, share how why they went and why they would invite others to come. They have found the Summit to be a valuable experience for them in living out a life of stewardship through generous hospitality and lively faith. I also invite those watching to attend and give a short synopsis of what the Summit offers.
The theme for this year Stewardship Summit is “Learning to Drop the Net” with Casting Nets Ministries, which will focus on the third lens of our Stewardship initiative: Dedicated Discipleship. Our keynote speakers are Tony Brandt and Chris Stewart of Casting Nets Ministries. “Tony and Chris have been speaking all over the country for more than a decade proclaiming the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping Catholics to become Missionary Disciples,” according to their website.
Both are former teachers who bring warmth, humor and wisdom to their presentations. They have great stories to tell about their own experiences living as dedicated disciples in the Diocese of Wichita, which has a rich and successful tradition of stewardship. They will give three addresses during the summit and will share with us their Seven Pillars of Effective Evangelization.
In addition to these talks, eight workshops will be offered. Bishop Robert Gruss has generously agreed to lead three workshops. Fr. Jonathan Dillon, who is the pastor of the parish clusters in Gregory County, will be back with three more stories of great saints and I will share wisdom from Brandon Vogt’s book, Return, which outlines proven steps for drawing your adult child back to the church.
An addition to our conference this year is a youth track – meaningful play and age appropriate stewardship lessons for toddlers through 9th grade.
I would really like to encourage all stewardship committees to take an active role in reaching out to members of your parish communities and your families, to personally invite them to the Summit. Do not take the week easy way out and simply put up the posters and fliers in the narthex gathering areas of your parishes, but instead take a few fliers and personally invite a parishioner, a family to the summit. Hand them a flier yourself. I would also encourage the parish stewardship committees to help promote the Summit by organizing different parish groups and organizations to view the DVD*. Personal invitations are always the best and produce the best type of fruit.
In the past, stewardship committees have not been well represented at the summit themselves. If stewardship committees could take a more active role by participating in the summit, it could go a long ways re-energize your stewardship committees in your parishes.
This Summit is for you!
*We have copies of the DVD in our office which we will be mailing out next week. However, if you would prefer to view it from YouTube or from our website (available next week as well) that is also an option. You may also embed the video on your parish’s website if you wish. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/NZwlJXRUgqg
August 4, 2017
Today we celebrate both the Feast of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests and the funeral liturgy for Fr. Jerry Scherer. As we remember him in a special way today, I would like to offer this memory of Fr. Jerry which I shared last August with all of you.
“May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”
Father Gerald Nicholas Joseph Scherer
February 17, 1919 – August 1, 2017
From August 24, 2016:
If you read my Musing last week, you will remember that I made a promise to go see Fr. Jerry Scherer after golfing in the Bishop’s Golf Classic with the Ping Golf Clubs Fr. Jerry gave me 25 years ago. There is great joy and new life that springs forth when we are able to keep our promises. I went to visit Fr. Jerry in the Alzheimer unit at Bella Vista Nursing home last Friday. I tracked Fr. Jerry down at a table in the dining room. I introduced myself and he was delighted to see me. I walked Fr. Jerry back to his room so we could visit. He must have asked me 100 times what my assignment was and where I was living. I responded 100 times back with all the patience I had within me. “My assignment is the Director of Stewardship and Vocations for the diocese and I live in residence at St. Therese the Little Flower with Fr. Kerry Prendiville.”
I decided to change up the conversation a little bit. I asked him, “How is the food at Bella Vista?” His response surprised me, “That is minor stuff.” I said “Fr. Jerry, what would be the major stuff then?” His response surprised me even more, “You visiting me.” His response echoed in the silence — you visiting me.
At the end of my visit, I prayed with Fr. Jerry and we ended with a Hail Mary. Fr. Jerry said, “Let me walk you out.” As we were walking out of his room there were 6 or 7 other residents following us to the front door. Fr. Jerry looked at them and then looked at me and said “I don’t think any of us have assignments.” I responded back “perhaps your assignment is R & R, rest and relaxation.” Fr. Jerry said, “Sounds like a good assignment.”
In the end, my friends, when it comes right down to it, it is all about relationships. The personal relationship we have with Jesus and the relationships we have with one another. In the end, what else matters?
Do you have some “major stuff” to attend to this week? Make an intentional effort to do so.
Photo of Fr. Jerry with Fr. Ed Vanorny courtesy of WRC
Fr. Scherer’s obituary can be found at: http://rapidcitydiocese.org/obituary-father-gerald-nicholas-joseph-scherer