St. John Bosco — August 2016

When Giovanni (John) Bosco was nine years old he had a dream in which an angry mob of children were fighting and swearing all around him. He tried to convince them to stop — at first with his words and then later with his fists — but a woman appeared to him who said, “Softly, softly … if you wish to win them. Take your shepherd’s staff and lead them to pasture.” The children began to turn into wild beasts and then into gentle lambs. From this dream, John knew that his call was to help and to lead other boys.

John’s father died when he was two years old, so his mother raised him and his two brothers on her own. They were poor, but John had a great desire to be a priest and he was able to enter the seminary with money for all his expenses from charity. He worked hard and eagerly, so people readily supported him. While at seminary and as a deacon, he worked with homeless or neglected boys in his spare time. His superiors supported his work, and so he began to gather the boys regularly on Sundays to learn about the faith and recreate.

After his ordination, Fr. Bosco was appointed as an assistant chaplain of a home for girls founded by Marchesa Barolo, a wealthy and generous woman. One day, while vesting for Mass, he heard the sacristan yelling and driving out a boy who had sneaked in to get warm. He called the boy back and asked him his name. “Bartolomeo Garelli,” he answered. Bosco asked if he could serve Mass, and the boy said no. He asked about his parents, but the boy had none. Bosco asked if he could sing; Bartolomeo laughed and the two struck up a friendship. He invited Bartolomeo to stay fboscoor Mass and to bring his friends the next Sunday, and Fr. Bosco’s work now began to grow.

He called these Sunday gatherings “the festive Oratory.” Eventually, though, the Marchesa asked the group to leave because the boys were noisy, wild, and disruptive. For the next year the group moved from location to location; Bosco had difficulty finding a permanent place because no one would keep them for very long. When finally they found a meeting place, the Marchesa told Fr. Bosco he could no longer do both works — he must either give up the Oratory or give up his post at the girls home. Fr. Bosco resigned from his post and began working full time with the boys in the Oratory.

Pneumonia nearly cost Bosco his life, but he recovered and worked as zealously as ever for the boys, starting a night school, opening more youth centers, and housing some destitute boys. He built a church under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales and developed a boarding school, at which, by 1856 there were one-hundred-and-fifty boys in residence and ten young priest instructors, and the oratories included more than five-hundred children.

St. John Bosco was a man ahead of his time in regard to catechetical methodology. He knew that intellectual knowledge was not enough — he wanted to form disciples so their formation included music, play, study, prayer, and work. He said, “Knowledge gives more power in the exercise of good or evil, but alone it is an indifferent weapon lacking guidance.” He did all this without the use of formal punishment; he used reason, religion, and kindness, and was famous for saying, “Get them to love you and they’ll follow you anywhere.” He knew that a loving, caring, attentive adult was necessary for the healthy formation of every child. The boys knew that Fr. Bosco loved them, and so they would follow him wherever he led.

Fr. Bosco founded a religious community together with his brothers in this work to carry on their apostolate and works of charity. They were called the Salesians, named again, for his favorite saint. Later, he founded an order of women in order to spread this work to poor young girls as well — the Daughters of St. Mary Auxiliatrix the Helper. He organized laity who served alongside them in a third order, called the Salesian Cooperators. St. John Bosco died in 1888 in Turin, having given his whole life in mercy toward God’s children.

Prayer to St. John Bosco

O glorious Saint John Bosco, who in order to lead young people to the feet of the divine master and to mould them in the light of faith and Christian morality, didst heroically sacrifice thyself to the very end of thy life and didst set up a proper religious institute destined to endure and to bring to the farthest boundaries of the earth thy glorious work. Obtain also for us from Our Lord a holy love for young people who are exposed to so many seductions in order that we may generously spend ourselves in supporting them against the snares of the devil, in keeping them safe from the dangers of the world, and in guiding them, pure and holy, in the path that leads to God. Amen.

Bighorns Young Adult Backpacking Retreat

Join Father Mark Horn as he leads a hiking trip throught the Bighorn Moutnains for young adults, ages 18-35, August 11-14. Cost is $60.

Registration is limited and due by July 28.

Contact Susan Thompson  716-5214 ext 221   Or Randy Vette 716-5214 ext 228

Click here to register! 

West River Catholic: July 2016

Enjoy the July edition of the West River Catholic

Download the PDF

Helpful hints: How to welcome your new pastor

It’s been said that a pastor is the only person in the parish who can make everyone happy — some are happy when he comes and the majority come to know and trust him over time as he ministers to them during his tenure, and he makes the rest happy when he leaves. In truth, though, we all know that the only one who can make everyone happy is Jesus and, even then, in order to know this happiness we have to cooperate with his will.

Transitions can be difficult, and many of our parishes are experiencing big transitions this summer as they say good-bye to a pastor who may have served them for many years, and then welcome a new one. Change is always hard. It is hard to let go of the familiar, to mourn the loss of talents and strengths of our former pastor, and to face the unknown of how things will work with the new one.

Being re-assigned is difficult for the pastor as well. It is hard to die to the dreams and hopes he has for the parish he is serving, to leave the people about whom he has deeply cared. And it is difficult to walk into a new place, where he knows no one and has yet to build trust and friendships in his new parish.

But transitions also offer us an opportunity to experience God’s abundant mercy. When Msgr. Thomas Richter was here in March for Pastoral Ministry Days, he reminded us, “God comes close to us where we experience misery; where we experience need, where we are lonely and not enough, where we are poor … he comes to us in the very place that if we had a magic wand we would get rid of … he extends his mercy precisely in the circumstances we don’t like but cannot change.”

So in these times of transition, we have opportunities to extend and to receive God’s mercy. We also have the opportunity to practice good stewardship, to welcome the stranger in our midst and to extend hospitality. We have the opportunity to look out for the good of all and put aside any selfish inclinations we have.

Here are some ideas for welcoming your new pastor:

Prepare a place for him. Take a look at the rectory with the eye of a realtor. Perhaps there is a realtor in your parish who can walk through it and assess it. Is it move-in ready? Does it need a thorough cleaning? Fresh paint? Is it in good repair? Would the bed your pastor will sleep on be inviting and comfortable in your guest bedroom? When he walks in, does he know how grateful you are that he has come to serve our community?

Organize a welcome for him after all of the Sunday Masses. Introduce him to the people of the parish.

Perhaps parishioners from both his old and new parish(es) will be helping him move. When I (Fr. Mark) moved from Piedmont to Ft. Pierre, all those who helped me move — some from Piedmont and some from Ft. Pierre — gathered around the altar after we were done and prayed together. It was a beautiful experience. Later that night, a couple showed up at my door and offered to take me to dinner, knowing I wouldn’t have had time to do any shopping yet. It meant a lot.

Organize a tour of the area served by the parish. Take him for a drive and point out ranches of the parishioners. Take him around town and point out the post office, the grocery store, perhaps local businesses that are owned by parishioners.

It means so much to the members of our communities when our pastors come to community events. At the beginning, though, this can be very difficult. Your new pastor doesn’t know anyone. He doesn’t yet know who his parishioners are. Invite him to community events. Don’t just tell him about the annual town celebration and rodeo; offer to pick him up and take him with you.

A new pastor is anxious to get to know the families of his parish(es).

Invite him over for dinner, or lunch, or breakfast, or coffee or whatever. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Remember, they all grew up in families just like we did. Welcome them into your home and make them feel special. Don’t be discouraged if at first they say no; keep trying. Invite them over more than once. Don’t think to yourself, “Oh, they are so busy.” Of course, they’re busy. We’re all busy, but we make time for the people who are important to us.

It is not helpful for anyone in this time of transition to say something like, “Our old pastor never did that” or “Our old pastor always did it this way.” Each priest is a unique person, with unique talents and strengths and ways of doing things. Focus on this new pastor’s strengths and affirm them. Welcome the fact he might minister best to a different group of parishioners than the previous pastor. Encourage him to tap into the expertise from within the parish for those areas in which he is not strong.

It’s never too late to welcome someone new, and welcoming doesn’t stop after the initial welcome party. Next month we will continue to explore ways we can grow in discipleship in this time of transition.

(Fr. Tim Hoag co-wrote this month’s column)



‘My heart is filled with deep gratitude’

Blessings to all of you as we find ourselves midway through the summer. This is the time of the year for me when three meaningful days come into play within thirty-four days — my birthday, the anniversary of my priesthood ordination and the anniversary of my episcopal ordination. These three events are monumental occasions of grace and blessing for me.

We all have a personal history to share. In a similar way that the Old Testament stresses a special relationship between God and his chosen people, Israel, my personal history tells a wonderful story of God’s love and presence leading me to this moment in time and history. As I come to the end of five years as the Bishop of Rapid City, it has given me pause to prayerfully reflect back upon the journey. Like God’s relationship with the Israelites, there are so many ways in which the Lord has embraced me in love and mercy, leading me back on the path when I have gone astray, giving me encouragement when I have doubted my vocation, loving me when I didn’t deserve it, and blessing me with the gift of the priesthood and the episcopacy.

These last twenty-two years as a priest, as I have stepped out in faith and trust, have brought me clarity regarding my true identity, a priest of Jesus Christ. As I have engaged a life of prayer, encountered Jesus in the sacramental life of the church, experienced him in the sacred ministry of loving others, I have been drawn more deeply into a living relationship with him. This relationship has fueled the ministry to which I have been called, both the priesthood and the episcopacy. These encounters with the Lord and with his people have given me great insight into the saving mystery of Christ’s love for us. The paschal mystery has come alive.

As I approach the anniversary of my episcopal ordination, July 28, my heart is filled with deep gratitude for many things, but one in particular is having been sent to Rapid City to be your shepherd. It hasn’t been without its challenges and burdens, but these five years have been filled with many graces and blessings, too numerous to count. I have thoroughly enjoyed this time with all of you. I still struggle some days to grasp what it means to be a bishop — it has been on-the-job-training. Some days I wonder if I am doing what I am supposed to do or if I am doing things the right way (as if there is a right way) or if am I providing the leadership the diocese needs. I realize that these are only human reactions to this position.

But as I pray daily for my ministry and for those with whom and for whom I minister as shepherd, I feel guided by the hand of God as I entrust it all to his care. This is the grace of surrender. I will continue to remain in this posture of surrender, placing it all in the Lord’s hands — for my sake and yours.

In this experience, as I look at the many great things that are going on in the diocese (though at times it may feel like too much), I am confident that the Holy Spirit is alive and seeking to awaken the hearts of God’s people to the “more” which he desires for all of us.

These past five years have been filled with experiences of love and support for me, God’s loving support as well as the love and support of all of you. I am deeply grateful and cannot thank you enough. Any accomplishments that have taken place over these years are the result of this love and support. No bishop can accomplish anything on their own. In fact Jesus has said, “Apart from me, you can do

nothing” (Jn 5:15). But also without the help and support of the people of God, little fruit will be born from any efforts I have put forth. Again, I am deeply grateful for all we have accomplished together.

We must keep moving forward together into the future as well. The Lord has great plans for each of us, individually and as the body of Christ. Let each of us place each day into the hands of our loving, caring and merciful Father with great trust and confidence so that we might receive the “more” that he wants to pour out upon us and the diocese.

Many thanks to all of you for a wonderful five years, for your prayers, your love and support. I am deeply grateful, and again, I feel richly blessed. I look forward, with great anticipation to what the Lord Jesus has in store for us, but also to walking forward in faith with all of you. Ad multos annos!

In this Year of Mercy, may the Father, who is rich in mercy, bring you a wellspring of joy, tranquility, and peace.