Rapid City Area Listener Relations Representative

 Real Presence Radio is seeking applicants for the following position:

Rapid City Area Listener Relations Representative:  Assist the Listener Relation Coordinator with spreading the word about Real Presence Radio. 40 hours per month and requires work 3-5 hours one weekend per month on average.

·         Promote RPR in the local listening area

·         Manage local parish reps

·         Schedule and give talks at parishes

·         Gather gift certificates for Live Drives

·         Attend events and manage an RPR booth

·         Help gather table hosts, volunteers, etc for banquets and live drives

·         Other duties as assigned

Positions open until filled
Send Applications to:
Real Presence Radio
PO Box 13703
Grand Forks, ND 58208

West River Catholic: December 2015

Enjoy the December edition of the West River Catholic

Download the PDF

Witness your amazing story to all you meet

In 2008, I was part of the 23rd World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia. Many of our youth and young adults who participated encountered the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in their lives in a profound way — so profound that it changed their lives forever. They met the person of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit in a way they had never known!

The theme for that WYD was taken from Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.”

At the heart of stewardship is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter on stewardship, “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response,” they note stewardship is “fundamentally the work of the Spirit in our lives. When we accept our lives as sheer gifts, the Spirit can use us as instruments for spreading the Gospel. Wherever the Spirit works, there is joy. Good stewards are always the joyful bearers of the Good News of salvation.”

I will never forget that 13-hour bus ride from Melbourne to Sydney. Time flew as I heard witness talk after witness talk from our youth, young adults and adult leaders. Their amazing stories of what Jesus was doing in their lives gave me much hope. Their desire to know Jesus and to live Jesus in their lives was a powerful testimony that changed my life.

Last summer, I had a similar experience on another bus trip, this time coming back from the Steubenville of the Rockies Conference in Denver. Hearing our youth and adults testify and give witness to one another of how they encounter the presence of Jesus in their lives was electrifying.

It’s true. When you open your heart to Christ and surrender to his will, you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will touch your heart — so much so that you will want to testify, give witness and to share this encounter with others.

I am not sure why we as Catholics are so hesitant to testify and give witness to what Jesus is doing in our lives. It seems that our relationship with Christ becomes a private matter — a matter between Jesus and me rather than an encounter to be shared. That sharing has the potential to ignite the hearts of others through our own personal story of Jesus.

When Paul was in prison, he wrote a letter to Philemon encouraging him to be faithful to the Gospel so that its power might be effective and bear fruit in the lives of God’s people. In a sense Paul is saying, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith.”

The stewardship initiative in our diocese — through a life of generous hospitality, a lively faith and dedicated discipleship — is nothing more than sharing our faith in Christ with others. It is all about being willing to be a witness and to testify to what the Lord is doing in our lives. It is putting our faith into practice.

Pope Francis, in a daily homily at the Saint Martha House where he lives, said that “living the Christian life is simple: listen to God’s word and put it into practice. These are the two conditions in order to follow Jesus, hear the word of God and put it into practice. This is the Christian life, nothing more … simple, easy.”

This past year the Office of Stewardship has been developing a new ministry in our diocese — the training and sending out of lay witnesses to every parish. This past month some of you experienced having lay witness speakers in your parish. Our plan is that every parish in our diocese will experience a lay witness speaker three times year, with the hope of building up to four times a year.

The purpose of the lay witness testimony is to inspire people to accept the invitation to live a life as a Christian steward through a life of generous hospitality, a lively faith, and a dedicated discipleship. Lay witnesses have a simple message — to share their own personal stories of living the life of being a faithful steward. Lay witnesses convey powerful stories of transformation. Hearing personal stories can lead to changes of heart and bring about authentic conversion.

During the next several months, I will go into more detail about this exciting new ministry in our diocese. Remember: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.”

Having a holy family does not mean a perfect family

As we gather this Christmas to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation, God becoming man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, it is a clear reminder of how God deeply desires to be with us. In becoming a child born into a human family, the Incarnation speaks to us of how God chose to experience human life from the very beginning so that he could not only be close to us, but so that he could save us.

At Christmas, what speaks to my heart is that he came to us through a human family wanting his holiness, his love, his life to be a part of every human person and every human family. Yes, we call the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family, but are not all families called to be holy? Is not the Holy Family the model for all families in good times and in bad, when there are both harmony and problems?

Many have an image of the Holy Family as being this perfect little family. But Jesus’ family is not called perfect. It is called the Holy Family. Holy doesn’t mean perfect. That should give all families some hope. It gives me consolation, knowing that I didn’t have the perfect family, but that certain aspects of it were holy.

There is probably not a single family without its problems, though some families may deal with greater problems than others. When we look at family life today, society presents many challenges for raising a healthy, holy, well-integrated family.

The Holy Family was not exempt from their own challenges. Imagine being exiled, fleeing to Egypt because a little baby had become so great a threat to a powerful king that Herod wanted him dead. When seen beyond the pretty stable event depicted so serenely on Christmas cards, we are confronted with a vulnerable “holy family” fleeing for its life and safety. Imagine the anxiety and fear that this young couple and their infant are facing as they begin their new life together. This “Emmanuel,” “God is with us,” is forced from his own homeland because of the threat of violence.

Perhaps this image of the Holy Family in exile depicts a God who has joined the plight of the world’s refugees who have had to flee their own homes and countries because of civil conflict, violence, and terrorism in areas such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Palestine, the Sudan and many other places. We must pray for these many refugees and be the body of Christ with arms outstretched to welcome them.

In the birth of Jesus, God has chosen to enter into the world to show us how we are to live together, so that no one should ever have to experience being a refugee, an outcast or a threat to anyone. This little child we celebrate at Christmas will grow up to love in ways which many think are humanly impossible — a love so profound and deep that he is willing to be hung on a cross and killed. He gives us the model that will bring holiness to every family and community.

What are the features that can make a family holy in a world constantly changing and becoming more secular? Here are some suggestions.

  1. It begins with a grounding in a covenant relationship with God : “I will be your God, and you will be my people” (Lv 26:12). If the Lord is not at the center of our lives as individuals, God will not be at the center of our family life.
  2. A family must be connected to a life of prayer. This includes participation in the sacramental life of the church. Prayer is what puts us in relationship with God. It is to the spiritual life what water is to the physical life. Prayer must encompass family life. If meals and bedtime are the only times parents pray with their children, what message is being sent about a true relationship with God?
  3. Are children being taught about the Bible? It is the parents’ personal responsibility to attend to the spiritual and moral development of their children. Parents are the first (primary) teachers of their children in the faith. Jesus knew the Hebrew Scriptures very well, not because he was God, but because it was a part of his family life. Imagine what the world might be like if children grew up learning a variety of verses from the Bible along with the nursery rhymes.
  4. There must be honor, reverence and respect for all members of the family. Do we really see each other as very sacred? Do children see their parents as sacred and vice versa? Do we see our brothers or sisters as sacred, as gifts to one another? To show reverence and honor means to see each other as gifts even when we don’t agree with them. Many families fall apart today and marriages end because the sacredness of the other is not honored. One sign of respect and honor is how we listen to one another. Do we really listen to one another; children to their parents; parents to their children? Listening is not easy. We often listen with our own agenda, meaning that when someone is speaking to us we are thinking more about what our reply will be.
  1. At the core of any healthy, holy, family life is unconditional love — a love expressed through heart-felt compassion, kindness, humility, patience and forgiveness. The words, “I am sorry. Will you please forgive me?” are perhaps the most important words in all family relationships.
  2. The word family comes from a Latin root famulus, which means servant. Family is that place where each serves the other, placing the needs, interests, desires and delights of the other before their own.

Families are never perfect and don’t have to be. There will be joys and happiness, sorrow and suffering. What makes a family holy is each of us answering our own call to holiness and then striving within our own family to share love, honor and respect for one another, always seeking the good of another.

As we celebrate the Incarnation and move into the New Year, take time to reflect upon your own family, the many good aspects as well as the imperfections. Take time for family prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to bless what is good and to heal and restore what human nature cannot do on its own. Trust that Christ, who was born into this world to save us, will do his healing work. May God richly bless you and your family.

 

West River Catholic: November 2015

Enjoy the November edition of the West River Catholic

Download the PDF

What it means to be a ‘person of communion’

In September I attended the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors in St. Louis, Mo. One of the breakout sessions was led by Father James Mason, a priest from the Diocese of Sioux Falls.

He shared this wonderful story about being a newly ordained priest at Sacred Heart Parish in Gettysburg. He was an associate for Msgr. Marvin McPhee. After daily Mass, the two of them would head to the local hardware store where they would sit outside on lawn chairs drinking coffee and visiting with the local townspeople — Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

Father Mason thought this was a waste of time because it seemed like he wasn’t doing anything important. He wanted to see some “real action” in his priestly ministry and sitting in lawn chairs was not fitting the bill for him.

Several weeks into this routine, Msgr. McPhee pulled Father Mason aside and said to him, “Father Jim, small talk is not small.”

In the end, the younger priest came to realize that those lawn chair conversations were not only a great way for him, as a new priest, to meet the townspeople, but they often led to deeper conversations about Christ. This was an important lesson for Father Mason to learn during his first few months as a priest.

Father Mason’s talk was on being a “man of communion.” He shared this quote from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Program of Priestly Formation” which speaks powerfully about the importance of living a life of a faithful steward by a willingness to engage others in conversations, even if it’s about the weather or the local high school sport teams.

“A man of communion: a person who has real and deep relatio­nal capacities, someone who can enter into genuine dialogue and friendship, a person of true empathy who can understand and know other persons, a person open to others and available to them with a generosity of spirit. The man of communion is capable of making a gift of himself and of receiving the gift of others. This, in fact, requires the full possession of oneself. This life should be one of inner joy and inner peace — signs of self-possession and generosity (Program of Priestly Formation, paragraph 76).”

We are all called to be “persons of communion,” which often begins with a simple invitation, the acknowledgment of another person. We are all called to be “persons of communion,” which begins with a simple hello, a greeting and the welcoming of another person into our space, opening up the possibility for deeper communion.

This acknowledgment of another happened to me several weeks ago when I was eating lunch at St. Thomas More High School. I ran into Wayne Sullivan, the principal and head football coach. I greeted him and asked where Friday’s football game was being played, and he replied, “Sturgis.”

I said, “I think I will make this game.”

He responded: “Why don’t you join us on the sidelines, Fr. Mark? The boys would love to have you there.”

This was something I had not expected to hear; it caught me totally off guard. That invitation to be on the sidelines, up front and close to the action, was thrilling to me. Yet, I was somewhat nervous by the prospect as well. He sweetened the invitation by throwing in a free St. Thomas More baseball cap and sweatshirt. Who could turn down an invitation like that?

On Friday night, I found myself pacing the sidelines at the game in Sturgis. A number of players came up to me right away and said, “Thanks for coming, Fr. Mark.” As the players came off the field, I was able to give some of them a high five and say, “nice catch” or “great tackle.” It was an incredible night — one that I will remember for a long time.

After the game, the coaches, players, cheerleaders and fans gathered in the center of the field. The coach gave them a pep talk and went over the practices for the following week. Then we all bowed our heads and prayed the “Our Father” together, ending with a resounding, “Amen!” That was followed by hugs and high fives.

I am grateful for Wayne’s generous hospitality. His invitation reminded me that hospitality is always relational. Hospitality isn’t about a project; it’s about people — it’s about being a person of communion.

This month, try to have some of those “lawn chair conversations,” keeping in mind small talk is not small.

Make the most of opportunities to encounter mercy

A Jubilee Year is drawing near. As we all know, Pope Francis has proclaimed an extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. This Jubilee Year is to begin December 8, 2015, and will close on the Solemnity of Christ the King, November 20, 2016.

He wrote in Misericordae Vultus: Bull of Indiction for the Holy Year of Mercy, “The church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person. The spouse of Christ must pattern her behavior after the Son of God, who went out to everyone without exception. It is absolutely essential for the church and for the credibility of her message that she herself live and testify to mercy. Her language and gestures must transmit mercy so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father” (#12).

In Judaism and Christianity, the concept of the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. In the Book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest. In Christianity, the tradition dates to 1300, when Pope Boniface VIII convoked a holy year, following which ordinary jubilees have generally been celebrated every 25 or 50 years. There have also been extraordinary jubilees in addition to this, depending on need. Jubilee years, in the Catholic tradition, generally involve pilgrimage to a sacred site, normally the city of Rome. The last Holy Year was celebrated in the year 2000.

A special holy door designated in each diocese will become a door of mercy “through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God, which consoles, pardons and instills hope.” In the Diocese of Rapid City I have designated two holy doors: one at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City and one at St. Charles Borromeo Church at St. Francis. Because an important part of any Jubilee Year is a pilgrimage, these are also the regular designated pilgrimage sites in the Diocese of Rapid City. Therefore, they will be directly involved in living out this Holy Year as an extraordinary time of grace and spiritual renewal in communion with the whole church.

I will be present to open the holy door at the Cathedral at the 10:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, December 13 and at St. Charles Borromeo Church on Sunday, December 20 at the 11 a.m. Mass. All are welcome to make a pilgrimage to these events.

In this year, it is the Holy Father’s desire that we cross the threshold of the holy door confident that the strength of the risen Christ, who constantly supports us on our pilgrim way, will sustain us, and that the Holy Spirit lead the way and support us in contemplating the face of mercy.

The Year of Mercy in our diocese will offer many other events as well. Each month there will be a designated Day of Mercy celebrated everywhere in the diocese. In the Rapid City area, this Day will include all-day Eucharistic adoration and the opportunity for the sacrament of penance from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at the designated site for that month. The Day of Mercy will conclude with a presentation on a topic related to mercy, followed by Benediction. Parishes in the outlying areas will provide events conducive to their particular location.

During the year, a Pilgrimage of Mercy will take place at a location in each deanery. I encourage everyone to take the time to make this pilgrimage to each of these five locations. The day will consist of a talk, an opportunity for confession, concluding with the Vigil Mass for Sunday and a healing service. Please consult pages 11-14 in this paper for dates, times and locations for all of the events during this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

This is an important year for all of us in the Catholic Church, both locally and universally. It is a time in which each of us is called to live out in our daily lives the mercy the Father constantly extends to us. God never tires of pouring out his mercy upon us. Just as the church is called to be a credible witness to mercy, we too, in very particular ways, are invited to be instruments of God’s mercy to others during this Jubilee Year. In order to be instruments of mercy, we must first receive God’s mercy in our own lives. Then we seek to find ways in which to live out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Another important part of the jubilee includes the granting of indulgences. Because God’s forgiveness knows no bounds, in Pope Francis’ mind the practice of indulgences has a very important meaning in the Holy Year of Mercy. (See page 13 on the topic of indulgences.)

“To live the indulgence of the Holy Year means to approach the Father’s mercy with the certainty that his forgiveness extends to the entire life of the believer. To gain an indulgence is to experience the holiness of the church, who bestows upon all the fruits of Christ’s redemption so that God’s love and forgiveness may extend everywhere. Let us live this jubilee intensely, begging the Father to forgive our sins and to bathe us in his merciful “indulgence” (#22).

It is my hope and prayer that all of us will take the Year of Mercy seriously, will make the most of the diocesan opportunities available to encounter mercy, and will enter into the depths of divine mercy so that we can become credible and convincing heralds of mercy.

“Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old” (Ps 25:6).

Let Your Love be Intense: Annual Diocesan Appeal

“Above all, let your love for one another be intense.”

1 Peter 4:8-10 describes our love as being intense and we are told to use our gifts to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. We ask Jesus to grant us the ability to be conscious of the ways we can contribute toward providing the needs of others. He will surely listen.

God’s love offers the grace which encourages us to provide service to others while receiving the blessings that emanate from the love we give to others. Ask the Holy Spirit to let your love for one another be intense as we serve the ministries of western South Dakota during our Annual Diocesan Appeal.

West River Catholic: October 2015

Enjoy the October edition of the West River Catholic

Download the PDF

Experiencing papal visit graced our country

I would suspect that if each person who experienced Pope Francis’ presence in Washington, D.C., New York or Philadelphia were able to share what that was like, it would be varied. But I think a common description would perhaps be “inspiring.” At least that would be my impression and experience.

Pope Francis gave us all much to think about during his visit to the United States. From my perspective, he truly revealed the heart of a shepherd and a pastor. In the gatherings with the U.S. bishops, he loved us, affirmed us, thanked us and challenged us in fully embracing the mission of Christ and his church.

Coming to the United States as chief pastor and shepherd of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis reaffirmed the importance of church, family, and the sanctity of human life at every stage of its development. He called for an inclusive attitude towards immigrants, reiterated the right of religious freedom and called for a conscious and responsible care for “our common home.”

As I have read the many texts of his talks and homilies, and reflected upon his messages, there is much to digest. Every venue in which he spoke brought forth a certain theme depending upon his audience. But he was very clear in calling all people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, to embrace the Gospel of Life and the mission of the Christ, to take the church outside its four walls and go into the streets meeting people where they are.

No matter where he went, Pope Francis excited people. The crowds were large and loud, every person hoping to get a glimpse of this spiritual leader. What was so touching were the ways in which he encountered the people in a personal way — a kiss to a baby, stopping and getting out of his car to hug a person with physical disabilities, a visit to a prison or time with the homeless. These are a few ways in which Pope Francis walked the talk.

I was also impressed by the Holy Father’s stamina and his willingness to embrace each experience, each venue, even when he looked exhausted and had difficulty walking. One can only imagine how much energy is needed at the age of 78 for a trip like this. But it appeared to me that the engagement with the people was what energized him.

I am sure that some people around the country had expectations of the Holy Father that were not met. For some conservative Catholics, he was criticized for not speaking more forcefully about the life and marriage issues which this country faces today. People on the other end of the spectrum were happy about his thoughts on immigration and climate change, but would never engage a conversation about his positions regarding abortion, traditional marriage or religious freedom.

Some people expect Pope Francis to speak out clearly on the political issues of today, condemning those who oppose the teachings of the Catholic Church. From my perspective, Pope Francis is not a politician, nor does he see himself as such, but a pastor. His role is not to condemn, but to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, modeling his life after him, the Good Shepherd. Therefore he approaches these political issues of the day in a different way than would a politician. He views the issues, not through a political lens, but through a moral lens, the lens of the Gospel. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:17). And the world was saved through love. Pope Francis speaks the truth with love, the love of Christ.

It was very clear in his messages, especially to the United States Senate and the United Nations, that Pope Francis embraces a policy of dialogue and not demagoguery. Dialogue opens up new opportunities for all. In his meeting with the bishops in Washington he said, “Dialogue is our method, not as a shrewd strategy but out of fidelity to the One who never wearies of visiting marketplaces, even at the eleventh hour, to propose his offer of love” (ref. Mt 20:1-16).

He further stated, “Harsh and divisive language does not befit the tongue of a pastor, it has no place in his heart; although it may momentarily seem to win the day, only the enduring allure of goodness and love remains truly convincing.”

What a beautiful grace for our country to have experienced Pope Francis’ presence for a short five days. He touched the hearts of many, both present at the events and those who were able to follow his journey through television coverage. I am very grateful for having been with him in Washington and Philadelphia. His messages and actions were truly inspiring.

I want to conclude with a message which Pope Francis asked the bishops to pass on to our people.

“I would ask you to share my affection and spiritual closeness with the people of God throughout this vast land. The heart of the pope expands to include everyone. May no member of Christ’s body and the American people feel excluded from the pope’s embrace. Wherever the name of Jesus is spoken, may the pope’s voice also be heard to affirm that: ‘He is the Savior’! From the coastal cities to the plains of the Midwest, from the deep South to the far reaches of the West, wherever your people gather in the Eucharistic assembly, may the pope be not simply a name but a felt presence, sustaining the fervent plea of the Bride: ‘Come, Lord!’”