Enjoy the May edition of the West River Catholic
As I was preparing for a men’s retreat at Holy Cross in Timber Lake, I came across this phrase: “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible, no bed” by Fr. Larry Richards. He has breathed and lived this saying for over 25 years.
He tells this story of making his priest retreat before his ordination and Msgr. Peterson (then Father
Peterson) asked him to sit before the Blessed Sacrament. He told him, “Just go before the Blessed Sacrament, ask God to reveal his word to you. Open the word of God and whatever comes is God’s word to you.”
Since this time, Father Richards has made this practice a part of his life. Every morning he opens the Bible and reads, and when a word, phrase or verse tugs at his heart, he stops and prays with it. He writes it down, puts it in his pocket and throughout the day he pulls it out and re-reads it. Pondering and reflecting in his heart and connecting the word of God to his life.
This pondering and reflecting upon God’s word in one’s heart, we learn from our Blessed Mother Mary, who models for us so beautifully and powerfully the need and the desire of meditating and contemplating on what God is doing in her life. Bringing forth the Incarnate word of God, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of the world: “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).
Father Richards encourages others to pray this way. He suggests that before one picks up their Bible, they should pray a fervent prayer to the Holy Spirit asking the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s word to them. Then open the Bible randomly, letting your finger point to a passage. Then simply read the Scriptures until the word of God tugs at your heart.
When something grabs you, stop and pray with God’s word. Realize that you might read a few verses, or perhaps even several chapters, before the Lord tugs at your heart. The key is to read until the Lord tugs at your heart with a word, words or phrase from Scripture.
Since the men’s retreat, I have been using this prayer method outlined by Father Richards when I wake up in the morning and before I go to bed, remembering — “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible, no bed.” Sometimes a word tugs at my heart right away and sometimes I read three or four chapters before the Lord really tugs at my heart revealing his words of mercy, love, forgiveness and truth to me.
It has been a lot of fun reading and praying the Scriptures this way. It is amazing that I find myself in parts of the Bible I’ve never read before, usually coming away with one of those “wow moments” of encountering the living God.
In March, I taught this method of “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible no bed” to students participating in the Veritatis Splendor Institute (VSI), sponsored by the Office of Faith Formation in the diocese.
Shortly after that, Angela Weber the music teacher, at St. Thomas More High School, was diagnosed with cancer. The morning after receiving her cancer diagnosis, she was restless, troubled, and filled with anxiety. Angela thought of that simple phrase of “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible no bed.” So Angela opened her Bible and asked the Holy Spirit to show her what the Lord wanted to say to her. Her Bible fell open to 1 Corinthians 10:13: “God is faithful and he will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide you a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.”
Since then, Angela has shared with me several times the words that the Lord is revealing to her as she journeys through her battle with cancer. Reading God’s word before breakfast and before bed has truly been her daily bread. One of my favorites — one that made me laugh — was when Angela lost her hair.
The word that Angela received was from Luke 12:6-7: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
The very next day Angela wrote to me: “Sorry to bother you again so soon. Okay. You’re not going to believe this; this morning my Bible fell open to Matthew 10:30, ‘But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.’ I am so spoiled by God!’”
I love the way Angela talks about this practice. She says, “The word is alive,” and then continues:
“The experience of Scripture as the word actually and truly alive has come to me in a strong way through the practice of asking the Holy Spirit in the morning and in the evening what the Lord has to say to me today, and then letting the Bible fall open where it may.
“As I read I am taken in immediately by whatever is going on in the Scriptures at that point in the Bible, and I read until there are words that strike me to the heart telling me this is what the Lord wants to say to me today. Sometimes, as Father Mark says, it comes right away, and sometimes I have to read for a bit before my heart hears the word the Lord wants to say to me.
“It is so striking how easy it is to sit and read in anticipation of what the Lord will say actively to me for the day! In this way the word is ‘alive’ for me in a new and exciting way.
“Just recently, I received the word from Jeremiah 29:11-14: ‘For I know well the plans I have in mind for you — plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a
future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, and I will change your lot…’”
“Since then, that Scripture has come to me three-fold in cards and notes of encouragement. The Lord really, really wants me to know this!
“In my sickness these days, I feel like I barely give enough to make a difference in the classes I teach, the concerts for which we are preparing, etc. Just yesterday, I was reminded of this from Luke 21:3-4: ‘I tell you truly, the poor widow put in more than all the rest, for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.’”
“I have never gone as far as to give away my whole livelihood to the church, but I have given all I have that’s in me so that my students succeed. This spring it has felt like I am giving from a great poverty. God reassures me he is multiplying my poor offering.”
This month give “No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible no bed” a try.
The Easter season is a very busy time for me as I travel the highways and byways to many different parishes to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to our young people. This is one of the things I enjoy most about being the bishop — the chance to interact with our confirmation students, their families and parishioners in each parish.
Late April and early May is also a time for finalizing priest assignments for the following fiscal year. The departure of a number of priests from the diocese has made this process a real challenge this year. While the challenges are real, I have so much for which to be grateful.
It all began with Bishop-elect Steve Biegler being named the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne. What a gift the people of Cheyenne are getting! I am deeply grateful for his ministry in the Diocese of Rapid City for the past twenty-four years. But I am grateful that I will still see him at least twice a year at the U.S. Bishops’ Conference meetings.
I am saddened that Frs. Godfrey Muwanga and John Lule, our Ugandan priests, are being called home for new assignments, although I am grateful to their bishop for allowing them to remain here for ten years (five years longer than originally planned). They both provided wonderful ministry and were great additions to our presbyterate. They will be deeply missed. Thank you, Father Godfrey and Father John, for your service among us.
We will also say farewell to Fr. Andrea Benso, our priest from Italy. After serving in the diocese for the past three years on the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservations and completing his Native American Ministry experience, he will return to Italy to continue his priesthood in his own diocese. We wish him well and thank him for his service among us. Despite his short time with us, he, too, has left his mark.
It will also be hard to say goodbye to some of our Jesuit priests who will be leaving the diocese over the course of the next few months. Fr. John Hatcher, SJ, will be departing later in the summer after serving the Native American people for the past 45 years. He will be taking a well-deserved sabbatical over the next year. Fr. Rick Abert, SJ, who has been a dedicated servant to the people on the Pine Ridge Reservation for a total of 13 years, will be leaving the end of May to take on a new pastoral assignment in another diocese. Fr. Peter Etzel, SJ, who has served here for seven years as the
Director of the Sioux Spiritual Center, Director of the Deacon Formation Program and Director of the Lay Ministry Formation Program, will also be reassigned to another diocese-missioned to a new assignment, departing later in the summer.
I am deeply grateful for the presence of the Jesuit communities here in the diocese and for all that they have been doing to serve the Native American communities for these many, many years. Fr. DeSmet first arrived in the Dakota Territory with the “Black Robes” in 1838 — 179 years ago. Many wonderful Jesuit men have served here sharing their gifts, talents, and their love for the Native American people. They have taken on the most challenging ministry in the diocese and truly made a difference in the lives of many people. As I have traveled around the diocese, the names of many Jesuits who have served here have come up in the conversation with parishioners who have described how their lives have been touched by the ministry of these fine men. The Jesuits who will be leaving us are among the finest. Fr. John, Fr. Rick and Fr. Peter, I cannot thank you enough for your ministry. You have each left a lasting mark on the church in western South Dakota and all of you will be deeply missed.
In the face of these departures, the Lord has assisted us in meeting the challenges of assigning priests to provide necessary coverage for our parishes this year. The process has been difficult and it is only possible because of the generous priests we have in our diocese. I am deeply grateful to our priests for their willingness to give of themselves in many ways for the sake of the needs of the diocese.
I am grateful for those priests who are willing to move if asked, for those priests who are willing to delay their retirement, come out of retirement or remain out of retirement for another year. This has been extremely helpful in addressing the priest shortage this year because of the many departures. I am thankful for those priests willing to accept a new assignment before their current assignment has ended or who have accepted one that is not necessarily on their wish list. This is just another example of the many ways they serve sacrificially for the greater good of the diocese. We also rejoice in the return of Fr. Brian Christensen, who will complete his assignment at the North American College, and the arrival of several priests to serve in the diocese for the first time. (The assignment changes are listed on page 4 in this paper.)
Although it has been challenging to program the placement of priests this year, I will always trust that God will provide for the Diocese of Rapid City. However, I also know that we all MUST do our part by praying for vocations every day, by inviting your sons or other young men in your parishes to consider a vocation to the priesthood, and by helping to create a culture of vocations in your parishes. There is no reason why the Diocese of Rapid City should be facing a priest shortage. There is an abundance of priests in our diocese!
As I wrote in Through Him, With Him and In Him: “Families and local parish communities should be the seed beds for priestly and religious vocations. There are no shortages of vocations to the priesthood. They are in your families and parish communities. You have not called them forth. The only shortage is that of vocational discernment. If more Catholics were to intentionally
engage the Lord in a conversation about what his plan for their life might be, in other words, seek out their personal vocation, many would discover a call to the priesthood or religious life. This is precisely why families and parish communities must be engaged in the work of vocations.”
In conclusion, I offer my deepest thanks for the priests who have so generously served the people of God in the Diocese of Rapid City, those priests who are departing us and those who continue to give of themselves across western South Dakota. Be assured of my continued prayers for all of our priests and for those whom God is calling to discern a religious vocation. I also ask the People of God in our diocese to remember to regularly thank your priests and to thank God for them. We can never take their presence for granted.
In the early 20th century, prior to American Catholics’ integration into the mainstream of culture and institutions in the United States, in Boston, Mass., the Catholic Medical Association was formed. It strengthened physicians in their faith, organizing them in local guilds to support one another and the church.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Guild of the Catholic Medical Association of the Diocese of Rapid City has applied to become a chartered guild of the National Catholic Medical Association. It obtained provisional status as of February 4. In the last few months the guild has met the association requirements to be an officially chartered guild and the application is currently at the National CMA board of directors for approval.
At the present time there are more than 100 chartered guilds and 25 student chapters of the CMA. Guilds are organized at the level of a parish, city, or diocese. Local guilds are organized in 11 regions of the country and one military district, each supported by two regional directors.
Board of director members include: Chaplain Bishop Robert Gruss; President George Ceremuga, II; and Vice President Rommel Brandt. The Diocesan Chief Finance Officer, Rick Soulek, will serve as treasurer and the Director of Family Life Ministries, Amy Julian, will serve as secretary.
The membership welcomes physicians, healthcare professionals, clergy, students and all persons interested in integrating Catholic principles into health care. To date there are 12 charter members in the Rapid City guild according to President Ceremuga. The goal of the CMA is to help the members to grow in faith, maintain ethical integrity and provide excellent healthcare in accordance with the teachings of the church. With the landscape of medical ethical issues changing so swiftly, this mission is more important than ever.
“Our guild will be active in educating the community on pro-life medical issues and preparing for the social challenges
regarding end of life care and the prescription of medical marijuana that is sweeping the nation,” he said.
Membership benefits include spiritual and professional support; subscriptions to The Linacre Quarterly and The Pulse of Catholic Medicine Magazine; educational opportunities and networking; email updates and action alerts; discounted registration to the CMA Annual Conference.
Projected monthly meeting times are Saturday mornings at Catholic Social Services. Please see the web address below for the membership categories and the fee structure. http://www.cathmed.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2017-New-Member-Application-Form.pdf.
For information, please contact Ceremuga at 605-430-4843, george@dr georgej.com, or Dan Petereit at 605-390-1154.
The World Apostolate of Fatima’s U.S. Tour for Peace, marking the 100th Anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal, is coming to the Diocese of Rapid City. The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue has been taken to more than 100 countries. The tour, sponsored by the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA (The Blue Army), launched from the National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, in the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ, March 20-21, 2016, to coincide with the start of the centenary celebrations at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal where Pope Francis is expected to visit in May. The statue will travel to parishes, schools, military chapels, and other venues along the tour, with programming to include Masses, confession, talks on Fatima, holy hours, adoration, rosaries and private veneration.
The statue was sculpted in 1947 by José Thedim reflecting the precise instructions of Sister Lucia (the surviving seer at Fatima). Her desire was that the pilgrim image represent Our Lady’s position when she revealed herself as the Immaculate Heart to the Shepherds in 1917.
The schedule for the visit to the Diocese of Rapid City is as follows:
Timber Lake, Holy Cross
7:15 am Mass follow by adoration, presentation by caretaker, Rosary, Litany, private prayer
11:00 am — Benediction, lunch
Spearfish, St. Joseph
5 pm — Procession
5:15 pm — Mass
6-9 pm — Exposition
9:00 pm Benediction, presentation by caretaker, prayer
Custer, St. John
8:30 am — Procession
8:40 am — Rosary
9 am — Exposition and veneration of the statue
9:55 am — Benediction
10 am — Presentation by caretaker: Q/A
11 am — Mass
Noon — Luncheon (please bring a dish to share)
Rapid City, Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
4 pm — Opening Social
5:30 pm — Procession and Mass, Bishop Robert Gruss presiding
7 pm–7 am — All-night vigil with prayer and presentation by caretaker
June 9, 7 am — Closing Mass at cathedral
Wall, St. Patrick
10 am — Procession
10:15 am – Mass
10:45 am — Exposition, presentation by caretaker, Rosary, time for personal veneration, opportunity for confession, and prayer
12:45 pm — Benediction
1 pm — Lunch in the Hall
Presho, Christ the King
7 pm — Procession
7:15 pm — Mass
7:45 pm — Holy Hour, presentation by caretaker, reconciliation, Rosary
8:45pm — Benediction
Contact the Office of Stewardship and Vocations, 605-716-5214 ext. 233, for more information.