Executive Director of the South Dakota Catholic Conference Appointment

Appointment of the Executive Director of the SD Catholic Conference signals the formal launch of the SDCC

Christopher Motz

August 22, 2017

The Most Reverend Robert D. Gruss, Bishop of Rapid City, and the Most Reverend Paul J. Swain, Bishop of Sioux Falls are pleased to announce the appointment of Christopher Motz as the first executive director for the South Dakota Catholic Conference. This newly created Conference will serve as the official voice of the bishops of South Dakota on issues of public policy, providing explanations of Church teaching and their practical application.

As the executive director, Mr. Motz will follow the development and implementation of public policies and communicate with public officials in all branches and at all levels of governments not only during a legislative session but throughout the year. He also will serve as a resource for clergy as well as diocesan and parish staffs. Additionally, he will focus on issues that are of common concern among Catholic organizations, other faith-based communities, and secular agencies to promote religious liberty and the common good.

Mr. Motz and his wife Hannah have three children and will be relocating to South Dakota. He will begin his duties as the executive director of the South Dakota Catholic Conference in October.

Click here for the full statement


West River Catholic: August 2017

Enjoy the August edition of the West River Catholic

Download the PDF

Liturgy Commission Questionnaire results

In 2017 the Diocesan Liturgy Commission conducted a survey of parishioners in the diocese regarding their experience in the celebration of the Eucharist in their respective parishes. The results were collated and analyzed and this document contains those results. Additional reports on each Deanery’s responses and each parish responses who participated are also available by contacting the chancery,  605-343-3541 or by contacting your pastor.

This questionnaire was part of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. It was one of the goals under the foundational ministry of Sacraments and Worship. The Liturgy Commission of the Diocese will use this information to chart its work into the next two years.

Click here to see the results

National Tekakwitha Conference brings tribes together

Great Attendance 
The National Tekakwitha Conference was held in Rapid City, July 19-22. Dedicated to St. Kateri Tekakwitha, it is the largest gathering of Native Catholics in the U.S. and Canada. This year more than 750 people attented the event in Rapid City. Dancer Dallas Chief Eagle and his daughter, Dallasina, performed at the powwow demonstrating traditional hoop dancing. (WRC photos by Laurie Hallstrom)

Tekakwitha Conference Committee leaders, Alice Pourier, vice committee chair, from Pine Ridge, and Beverly Running Bear, committee chair, from Rapid City, carried the traveling Tekakawitha icon in the Grand Entry, July 20.


By Laurie Hallstrom

“Loving One Another Through the Spirit of Kateri,” was the theme of the 78th Annual National Tekakwitha Conference held in Rapid City, July 19-22. It brought together people of many tribes, religious and clergy.

Fr. Peter Klink, SJ, vice president for Mission and Identity at Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge, gave the opening keynote address on July 20. He has attended many National Tekakwitha Conferences, and while he cannot recite every state by heart, he does recall the religious and social experiences they brought to him.

“The National Tekakwitha Conferences were a positive faith experiences for the entire family. I remember grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers, children and grandchildren all celebrating, all having a good time, all sharing faith,” he said.

Father Klink recalled the St. Mary and St. Joseph Societies wherein native people could support one another in faith. He said by the mid-1980s the national conferences had become predominantly a gathering of elders. The Tekakwitha Conferences he has attended brought together all generations. “Include the youth in planning conferences. We have to be fun and substantive to them,” he said.

He noted the conferences were larger before the October 2012 canonization of St. Kateri.

“The challenge and invitation of St. Kateri, and of a loving God, is basically ‘now what’? How is the spirit inviting us and calling us to be a lively experience of God’s good news … throughout Indian Country today?”

“I am confident that throughout these days of our gathering here two women are smiling broadly, the blessed Virgin Mary, the church’s model of trusting faith, and St. Kateri. Both are watching … they want the best faith experience for us. We are not alone; they are interceding and cheering for us. That’s important for us to always remember.”

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, celebrated the opening Mass. He reminded the people he was ordained a bishop 29 years ago in Rapid City. In his homily, he said many of the people he spoke with since his arrival at the conference were men and women who were heavily burdened by illnesses, jobs and deaths.

Referring to the Gospel of the day, Mt 11:28-30, he said, “All of us are subjects of Jesus’ invitation ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart … For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.’”

Archbishop Chaput said by knowing God’s love we can release our anxieties and worries and not take them into the future. We can depend on God.

Friday morning the keynote speaker was Dr. Laurel Vermillion, president of Sitting Bull College, Ft. Yates, N.D., and a member of the Standing Rock Tribe. She addressed the conference theme.

“When we think about loving each other and caring — to me that means family,” said Vermillion. She grew up with her family close by and said her fondest memories include her grandparent’s who lived about 100 yards from them in their own home. Vermillion said. “People need to know where they come from, who they are, their language and their culture in order to be happy people — people who are successful. This is what we encourage our students to do. I didn’t know a lot about my culture and my language. I didn’t learn because it wasn’t a priority. My parents and grandparents thought that would be best for us.

“Now I make sure that our young people know who they are. We have a Lakota language immersion nest and to see the young people there is mind-boggling. They have so much respect. I see these young children speaking and listening and answering questions in Lakota. This is part of the answer. This is part of how we make things better.”

Auxiliary Bishop Edward Clark, Los Angeles, Calif., celebrated the July 21 Mass before conference members spent the afternoon at Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer.

On the morning of July 22, there was a panel discussion on opening the cause of Nicholas Black Elk for canonization.

Bishop Robert D. Gruss, Diocese of Rapid City, celebrated the concluding Mass. The Gospel from Matthew was the parable Jesus told about sowing good seed. Bishop Gruss said, “Our faith makes unconditional demands on us throughout our lives. It requires us to make immense leaps of sympathy and forgiveness; it asks us to live for God, not for earthly power and wealth; it asks us to put aside self-will and to live for others…”


Knights bring Christ alive in wonderful ways

I recently attended the Knights of Columbus 135th Supreme Convention in St. Louis, a gathering of over two thousand from throughout North and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe – bishops, clergy, Knights and their families – to celebrate what the Knights of Columbus accomplished over the past year and to give encouragement to the members as they carry out the mission of the Knights of Columbus in their local church. The theme of this year’s convention was “Convinced of God’s Love and Power.”

Throughout their history, since 1882, the Knights of Columbus have been a force in responding to the challenges of the times, those challenges presented by the culture, and the challenges faced in society around the world. The Knights’ dedication and commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ is expressed through the ways in which they serve as the Lord’s hands. As we all know, the heart of Christianity is not a series of principles or ideas. It is the person of Jesus Christ who extends his deep love for us and then propels us into action, sacrificing our own lives for others. This is the work of the Knights of Columbus.

Those who are “convinced of God’s love and power” find this as the source of the Christian life and mission. This underlies the work of Christian charity and fraternal charity which is the hallmark of the Knights of Columbus and their councils throughout the world.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, in his annual report given at the convention, shared the major accomplishments of the Knights of Columbus over the past year. He spoke of new records in charitable giving, with more than $177,500,673 given last year. Over the past decade, the Knights of Columbus have donated $1,622,606,995. Over 75 million hours of volunteer service by its members around the world reflect countless individual acts of kindness and love, changing the lives of many people. Other accomplishments include increased membership and the sixteenth consecutive year of growth in insurance sales.

The Knights of Columbus led the way worldwide in assisting Christians facing persecution, especially those facing genocide in the Middle East. They have provided more than $13 million to persecuted Christians since 2014 in the form of food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care. Supreme Knight Anderson shared, “Christians who endure suffering and death for their faith in places like Iraq, Syria and Egypt, show us how to confront terrible evil with the weapons of love and truth. They are a brilliant witness to God’s love and power.”

Two new initiatives were announced to assist Christians at Risk. First, on November 26, the Knights of Columbus and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will sponsor a day of prayer for persecuted Christians followed by a Week of Awareness and Education. Secondly, a new effort was announced to help save Christianity in Iraq by raising $2 million to save the Christian town of Karamedes in Iraq. Until recently Karamedes was controlled by ISIS. The terrorists desecrated churches and graves and looted and destroyed homes.

The Knights of Columbus are urging local councils, parishes, or other church groups, and individuals to help by donating $2,000 — the approximate cost of resettling one family. The rebuilding work will begin immediately. For more information about this initiative or to donate to it, please visit www.christiansatrisk.org.

These are just a few examples of the great charitable work of the Knights of Columbus, continuing its efforts to build a culture of life and a civilization of love.

I am deeply grateful for the great work the Knights of Columbus have done in parishes throughout our diocese, for their support of me and our priests, and for their witness and dedication through the ways in which they serve as the Lord’s hands.

I would encourage all Catholic men to become members of the Knights of Columbus. It is a wonderful way for men to support one another in their faith, to deepen their faith through prayer and action, and to answer the Lord’s call to intentional discipleship. When Catholic men come off the sidelines and get into the work of Christian charity, unity and fraternity the mission of Jesus Christ comes alive and many lives are deeply affected.

To my brother Knights in the Diocese of Rapid City, I conclude with the encouragement that our Supreme Knight shared at the annual convention. “This year let us be in even greater ways who we are called to be as brother Knights. Let us strive to be that radiant and attractive witness of fraternal communion that our church and our world so desperately need. Let us strive to be authentic witnesses of how to care for one another, and how to encourage and accompany one another. We can and we will do these things as the spiritual sons of Father Michael McGivney. We can and we will do these things because we are convinced of God’s love and power.” Vivat Jesus!


Obituary — Father Gerald Nicholas Joseph Scherer

Click here to read the text from Bishop Steven Biegler’s funeral Mass homily.

Father Gerald N. Scherer was born in 1919 in a little farmhouse near Timber Lake, South Dakota. He was the third of six children born to Simon A. Scherer and Mary C. Ditter. He attended grade school in a one-room country school near their farm, then went to high school at St. Joseph’s School in Timber Lake, graduating in 1936.

From 1936 to 1940 he helped his father operate a lignite coal mine near Firesteel, SD. When his father died in a mining accident in 1940 he took over the operation of the mine and ran it until 1943 when the underground supply of coal was exhausted.

After spending a year working in an aircraft factory as an arc-welder in Wayne, Michigan, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. In 1947 he was discharged from the service, and that fall he entered St. John’s University at Collegeville, Minnesota, graduating with a BA degree in 1950.

In the fall of 1950 he entered the Seminary at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, for theological studies. He was ordained to the priesthood there on May 8, 1954 by then-Archbishop Amleto Cicognani, who was the Apostolic Delegate to the United States before later being named a Cardinal and appointed as the Vatican’s Secretary of State.

Father Scherer’s first assignment in the Diocese of Rapid City was as assistant pastor at the Cathedral Parish in Rapid City. From there he was sent as assistant pastor to Buffalo, South Dakota, where he helped attend to St. Anthony’s Parish and its six outlying missions.

In January 1956 he was appointed by Bishop McCarty as rector of Witten, Hamill and Dixon-Iona. While pastor there he helped with the remodeling of all three churches. In 1960 his residence was transferred to Winner, where he helped out with the school and sports program while still taking care of the missions at Witten, Hamill and Dixon.

In 1965 he was appointed as pastor of Murdo with a mission at Draper. During these years he held the additional position of Diocesan Director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.

Father Jerry Scherer February 17, 1919 – August 1, 2017

On September 14, 1967 he was appointed pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Gregory, and in 1970 he was again reassigned as pastor of St. Mary’s in Lemmon, where he continued to work at the diocesan level organizing parish catechetical programs, training catechists and using a mimeograph to publish the materials he had written, bringing a new approach to teaching the faith to children and youth.

In 1974 Father Scherer was appointed as Rector of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City, where he served until 1983. During this time he put his building know-how to good use, designing the present chancery, which opened in 1975.

From 1983 to 1994 he served as pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Custer with a mission at Hermosa. During this time, he build a new rectory in Custer, doing much of the work himself.

Father Scherer retired in 1994 to the private home he built near Hermosa. His “hermitage” was used at times for private retreats by many in the diocese. He continued to assist pastors with weekend pastoral support and to host retreats and workshops at his home until 2000, although he enjoyed visiting relatives in warmer climates during the winter months.

In 2011 his Hermosa home was sold and Father Scherer moved to Casa Maria Priest Retirement Home, where he lived until 2013, when he moved to Here’s a Hart Assisted Living. In 2014 he celebrated his 60th Anniversary of Priesthood in May, and that November moved to Bella Vista Golden Living Center, where he received skilled care until his death on August 1, 2017.