It is hard to believe we are approaching the end of summer. These past few months rapidly elapsed for the Offices of Stewardship and Vocations. Although busy, this time has borne much fruit. Allow me to elaborate…
At the end of May to kick off our summer, we commissioned two Duc in Altum teams comprised of eight young adults to go out. The travels of these young missionaries crisscrossed western South Dakota, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the young people of seventeen parishes. I am confident their witness of service, sacrifice, and zeal inspired many, including me.
In June, we hosted our first Stewardship Summit. More than 285 participants from 48 parishes in our diocese attended. A number of people even joined us from the Diocese of Sioux Falls and the Diocese of Cheyenne. Together the participants ascended the mountain of stewardship, cultivating a life of generous hospitality, lively faith and dedicated discipleship, as a way to live out our Catholic faith.
I encourage you to go to our diocesan stewardship page http://www.rapid citydiocese.org/stewardship/, where you can download the audio files of the keynote addresses and the impact sessions. The speakers will inspire and challenge you to live more deeply the call of stewardship in your life.
On July 2, Bishop Robert Gruss ordained two young men to the priesthood of Jesus Christ, Fr. Mark Horn from Burke, and Fr. John Paul Trask from Elm Springs. It was an incredible evening of great joy as we witnessed these young men generously give their lives to Christ and to the Catholic Church of the Diocese of Rapid City.
Throughout the entire summer we have had the great opportunity to be with almost 300 young people. Some attended the Steubenville of the Rockies conference in Denver, Colorado, others stayed for a week at our Girls and Boys Totus Tuus vocational camps. Several more gathered to hike in preparation for World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland to be held in the summer of 2016.
Finally, a few more literally ascended with us as we spent the Feast of the Transfiguration in the Big Horn Mountain range backpacking. All of these activities were beautiful periods of fellowship as we encountered the Lord in his beauty, in relationship with one another, and through his sacraments of Eucharist and reconciliation.
As I reflect back on this summer and the programs, conferences and celebrations that were attended by our children, youth, and families, this line from the Prayer for Vocations resounded in my heart, “Lord Jesus, Son of the eternal Father and Mary Immaculate, grant to our young people the generosity necessary to follow Your call and the courage required to overcome all obstacles to their vocation.”
Stewardship and vocations truly go hand-in-hand. The U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter on stewardship, “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response,” describes stewardship as the grateful response of the Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares them in love of God and neighbor. This is what we’ve done all summer long with our children, young people and families — we’ve attempted to instill in them this reality that each person has been blessed and gifted in many unique ways by God our Father and thus is called to share the good news of his son Jesus joyfully with others!
The call of Stewardship and Vocations is not complicated, it is quite simple; however, we need to recognize first how generous God is to us through the many gifts he has bestowed in a particular way. God is so generous, sending his son Jesus to be our Lord, Savior and friend. In turn, Jesus generously invites us into and reveals the Father’s plan for each of us.
Bishop Gruss, at the closing Mass for Boys Totus Tuus, preached on the call to know one’s particular vocation to priesthood, consecrated life or matrimony by using a piece from a jigsaw puzzle. Bishop Gruss said, “When I was a vocation director, I would carry around a jigsaw puzzle and when I spoke about vocations, I would give each young person a piece and tell them that they were as unique as this puzzle piece in the eyes of God and his kingdom.
“Each puzzle piece is unique, in that there is no other piece like it. It has a unique shape, colors only appropriated to that piece, and most important of all, that unique piece fits in only one place in the puzzle to make the beautiful picture complete and what it is supposed to be, how it was created to be. We are like that puzzle piece in the sense that God has created each of us uniquely and each of us fits uniquely in only one place in the kingdom with our own unique mission in that kingdom. We have to seek, discern and discover that unique place for ourselves.”
The ministry and work of stewardship and vocations do go hand-in-hand. I encourage you this month to pick up a jigsaw puzzle piece and carry it around in your pocket or put it on your prayer table at home as a visible reminder to pray fervently that you might know the unique mission God has called you to in his kingdom. Pray that all of us in the Diocese of Rapid City will have the generosity necessary to follow the plan that God the Father has called us to. And may we have the courage to overcome all the obstacles to the particular vocation that God desires for each one of us, whether that is to priesthood, consecrated life, or holy matrimony.