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.

West River Catholic: May 2016

Enjoy the May edition of the West River Catholic

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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!


Spring: A season of change and new life arrives


Has it seemed like this year of 2016 is rapidly moving through its course? It is hard to believe that we are midway through the month of May. When I reflect back on these months, I find myself continually filled with gratitude for how God has blessed me, both personally and in ministry. I feel deeply blessed to be where I am at this point in my life. The Lord’s blessings are so near, so constant — as close as the next breath or the next prayer or the next experience of love.

There are and have been many wonderful things happening in the diocese in these recent months. I am very excited about the Diocesan Priority Plan, because it will bring into clearer focus the mission and ministry of the diocese as a whole moving forward into the next few years. I am convinced that as we all embrace this Priority Plan in our lives and ministry, we will tangibly see the power of the Holy Spirit at work in miraculous ways, and many new blessings will be poured out upon us. Yes, new ministry can be work, but the work of God in our midst is always a sight to behold!

We are currently in one of my favorite times of the year. We have found ourselves moving quickly through the month of May already with its many activities. The confirmation season is winding down. What graced moments these have been! It is one of my favorite parts of my ministry as a bishop. So I am looking forward to the last two — Sacred Heart Parish in White River and St. Bridget Parish in Rosebud.

Springtime is a time of change. In my travels, I have been blessed to relish the springtime showing many signs of new life. There is a birthing that has been going on in nature — new calves romping in the fields, the budding of the trees, the blossoming of plants, flowers beginning to don clothes of brilliant colors, the grass beginning to return to its brilliance of green; all these things give us a sense that the miracle of new life is taking place. What a blessing to experience this all around us when we take notice — another way of God showering his love upon us.

Springtime is a time of change in other ways as well. As you will notice from an article in this paper, there will be a reconfiguration of the parishes in the northern part of the diocese in Harding, Perkins and Corson counties. I am deeply grateful for tremendous work accomplished by the group of people, clergy and lay leaders alike, from various parishes in those counties. Over the past fifteen months, they have been gathering for prayer, reflection and discussion, assessing the pastoral needs in the northern parishes and developing ways to refresh the vision of ministry.

This group developed benchmarks for “Healthy and Holy Parishes.” In other words, as we look at the life of a parish and how the church defines a healthy and holy parish, what are the required ministries which comprise such a parish and make it fully alive with the Gospel? This committee carefully evaluated the current ministry in each parish and has offered clear advice on how best to move forward in providing ministry with one less priest in those counties. Their findings and conclusions revealed the need to reconfigure the parishes in that area of the diocese.

I am very appreciative of the time and stewardship of this committee and the wonderful work which was accomplished.

It is my hope that parishioners who are affected by these changes will find a new faith community, a new place to call home, where they will discover a warm welcome and experience a vibrant parish where the liturgy is celebrated well, hospitality is strong, lifelong faith formation is present, and opportunities for social outreach are offered.

This is also the time of the year when the changes in clergy assignments are announced. One of the most important and challenging efforts of my ministry is the assignment of priests to parishes. I am deeply grateful to the Consultors who provide important assistance in this lengthy decision making process. My deepest thanks and gratitude also go out to the priests who, for the greater good of the diocese, agreed to take a different assignment before their terms were completed. I am deeply grateful for their generosity in putting the needs of the diocese ahead of their own.

I know that people love their priests and it is hard to see them leave as they reflect upon the impact the priests have made in their lives. Those feelings are the challenging part of God’s blessings which I noted earlier. Pastoral decisions are sometimes very difficult to make, knowing the impact on the faith communities involved. They will never please everyone, but must be made for the overall good of the diocese given the resources we currently have, with an eye toward the future.

It is important to consider that our priests have many and varied gifts. Change in pastoral leadership allows the parish to benefit from the gifts that their new priest offers. At the same time, priests grow from the gifts they receive from each community in which they minister. This exchange of gifts helps us to grow in understanding of the faith and to connect with other parishes as a diocese.

I ask that you please keep the priests and these other changes in your prayers for a smooth and peaceful transition. Again, there are many wonderful things happening in our diocese, but it will be prayer that will sustain them. Be assured of my continued prayers for you and your family as well. May the peace poured out upon us at Pentecost awaken our hearts anew for work of the Gospel in our diocese. Wishing each of you much peace and joy in Christ.

Let’s build a culture of vocations together

It is an exciting time in the Diocese of Rapid City — a time filled with renewed hope and energy as we embrace the Priority Plan of the Diocese of Rapid City together.

Bishop Robert Gruss says this plan “offers a message of hope and an opportunity that draws the people of God to something greater than themselves and inspires them to action. The power of the Holy Spirit will lead us to accomplish more that we can possibly ever imagine.”

In the foundational ministries section of the Priority Plan, under vocation and evangelization, one of the goals is that by Jan. 17, 2017, each parish or parish grouping will form a vocations committee to encourage and promote a culture of vocations.

To help jump start building a culture of vocations in every parish in our diocese, we brought Rhonda Gruenewald to our diocese in April for two workshops. We had 75 people who attended the “Hundredfold” workshops; 32 went to St. John the Evangelist, Ft. Pierre, and 43 attended at Our Lady of the Black Hills, Piedmont. They represented 26 parishes from across the diocese. This is not a bad start to forming vocation ministry committees in every parish in the diocese.

Gruenewald, a convert to the Catholic Church and the author of the book “Hundredfold: A Guide to Vocation Ministry,” did not know what the word vocation meant four years ago. She and her husband, David, were invited to a meeting at her parish, St. Cecilia in Houston, Texas. Her parish priest, Fr. Victor Perez, personally called her and asked if the couple would attend a meeting about “priests and such.”

They accepted the invitation and her life has never been the same. I pray what happened to Rhonda and David will happen to each one of us as we embrace Bishop Gruss’ call and invitation to build a culture of vocation in our parishes and diocese.

The heart of building a culture of vocations in our parish families begins and ends with prayer. Blessed Hannibal di Francia wrote: “Jesus wanted to teach us that vocations in the church do not come by chance, either by themselves, nor can we make them out of human efforts only. They come to us from the mercy of God. If we do not pray to obtain them they will not be given us.”

St. Paul urges the faithful to “pray constantly” (1 Thes 5:17).  If we truly want to work for vocations, our petitions to God must be unending.

Forming an environment in our parish where vocations to priesthood, religious life and sacramental marriage are discerned, nurtured and affirmed has a ripple effect on the entire community. Gruenewald says a single parish vocation ministry committee could be more like a tsunami revitalizing and energizing the parish at many levels. We have to “invite” our young people to actually pray to know their true vocation and to discern God’s call in their lives.

God does indeed have a particular plan — a vocation for each and every one of our young people, whether it would be a call to priesthood, religious life, sacramental marriage, or the single life. Parish vocation committees help families create the space and environment they need to help children and young people hear the voice of Jesus calling their name.

In “Hundredfold,” Gruenewald describes four phases to creating a vocation ministry in parishes:
Phase I: Laying the Ground Work
Phase II: Establishing a Presence
Phase III: Spreading the Word
Phase IV Expanding the Ministry.

The point of the phases is to implement different activities such as prayer, awareness and education, and youth activities that affirm and foster a culture of vocations in an intentional but incremental and sustainable way. She notes there are over 50 activities, from simple to complex, that help a parish develop this culture.

Let’s get started. Read “Hundredfold: Building a Parish Vocation Ministry.” It’s available through the Vocation and Stewardship Office for only $13 – a savings of $7.

In addition, Gruenewald was recently featured on EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa.  In the interview, she shares many of the same stories and experiences she offered during the workshops.  This episode can be accessed at: live/ewtnlive.asp. It is the second thumbnail under the currently featured video and is the April 13 episode.

If you would like to purchase a book or two, please contact our office at 605-716-5214 ext. 233 or at You will find it helpful in laying the foundation for creating and building a culture of vocations in your parish.

I look forward to working with you and your parish in creating a culture of vocations in which we nurture, within the hearts of children and our young people, a desire and an openness to follow God’s plan in their lives.

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.