Enjoy the September edition of the West River Catholic
On September 9, four candidates for the diaconate were installed at the 5:30 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Our lady of Perpetual Help, by Bishop Robert Gruss.
The candidates have completed a year of Aspirancy, which is “primarily a time to discern the capability and readiness of an aspirant to be nominated to the bishop for acceptance as a candidate for diaconal ordination” (National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, USCCB).
The next step in their formation is the Rite of Admission. The rite is celebrated when, “it has been established that the intention of those aspiring to Holy Orders is supported by the necessary qualifications and has achieved sufficient maturity” (Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders).
As they continue through the next three years of the program, there are additional rites for institution of lectors and acolytes before ordination as a permanent deacon.
The four men recently spoke to the West River Catholic about themselves and what has led them to discern the diaconate.
Home Parish: St. Therese the Little Flower, Rapid City
Family: Wife Rita; children: Deseree, Danielle, Lisa, Bobby, and Ralph; 8 grandchildren
Church Involvement: CCD and confirmation teacher, active in TEC, usher, Knights of Columbus, homebound ministry, Commissioned Lay Minister, Lector, and Eucharistic minister
What is one church influence (saint, teaching, book) that has made an impression on you? Why/how? St. Ignatius and his teachings and writings have taught me that there are times of spiritual desolation and how to handle those times.
Why did you decide to begin the process of becoming a deacon? At Mass one day, 17 years ago, I felt a calling. I fought it at first but it got too strong so I talked to Rita about it and we talked to our parish priest. We had small children at the time and he suggested we wait. We were patient and waited but the voices never went away. I searched out (the late) Sister Marie Schwan, CSJ, and she guided us to the lay ministry program which led to this.
Home Parish: St. Therese the Little Flower, Rapid City
Work: Business owner
Family: Wife Natalie; two children: Mackenzie and Ashley; and three grandchildren
Church involvement: Commissioned Lay, Minister, Eucharistic minister, lector, and active in the Cursillo movement and TEC youth program.
What is one church influence (saint, teaching, book) that has made an impression on you? Why/how? When we were in the Air Force in California, Saint John Paul II came to visit Universal Studios for a youth conference. Natalie was teaching at a Catholic High School at the time so we got to chaperone the event. It was electrifying. Our faith and our spiritual life also really grew in the lay ministry program.
Why did you decide to begin the process of becoming a deacon? I had several spiritual experiences that led me to the diaconate. My wife’s and my spiritual formation intensified through the lay ministry program and we have a strong desire to serve the Catholic community.
Home Parish: Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City
Work: B-1 Simulator Training and Support Engineer and TRU Simulation + Training, Inc.
Family: Wife Mary Helen; three children: Charles, Catherine, and Joseph; and two grandchildren
Church involvement: Lector, Eucharistic minister, volunteer with Joy-Filled Marriage and Heart-to-Heart retreats, and VSI certified (Basic and Master certification)
What is one church influence (saint, teaching, book) that has made an impression on you? Why/how? Mary, Mother of God. As a convert, I did not have a devotion to Mary until I was married and had a family. I was called to pray the Rosary daily when my family came under stress from my military career. I have received many blessings through the intercession of our Blessed Mother. She has helped to strengthen our marriage and protect our children as they ventured out into the world.
Why did you decide to begin the process of becoming a deacon? I feel called to serve the Lord, and the permanent diaconate seems to be where God is directing me. My wife and I have discussed the possibility of the permanent diaconate for a number of years, but for a variety of reasons, it never seemed to be the right time to pursue this. When Aspirancy was announced, we felt it was the right time to respond to the Lord’s gentle prodding and pursue the possibility of service as a permanent deacon.
Home Parish: Christ the King, Porcupine
Work: Full-time National Guard
Family: Wife Terri; children: Jared, Sarah, Breanna, Audrey, Billie; 17 grandchildren
Church Involvement: Lector, Eucharistic minister, parish council, wake team, confirmation, currently the part-time pastoral coordinator for Christ the King
What is one church influence (saint, teaching, book) that has made an impression on you? Why/how? The clergy have always inspired me. Deacon James “Heavy” Garnett used to always kid around with us. The church we were going to would have Mass every other Sunday so we would go to St. Isaac Jogues every other week and he would say, “I was wondering if you were still Catholic!” He didn’t live a perfect life, just like I haven’t, and that was a great example.
Why did you decide to begin the process of becoming a deacon? It was a calling. A few years ago I went to the Rapid City Diocese website and found the Canku Wakan retreat and signed up for it. That led to more and more involvement and then to the deacon Aspirancy program.
If you have been following the news lately, you have read and heard much about the recent hurricanes in both Texas and Florida. This awareness calls for our continued prayers for the many, many people who have been impacted by these natural disasters as well as those who have been affected by the fires in the western part of our country and the earthquake in Mexico.
Immigration has also been a hot topic in the news over the past number of weeks. You would have most likely heard that President Donald Trump has suspended the five-year-old program instituted by former President Barack Obama known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It is estimated that approximately 800,000 individuals referred to as “Dreamers” have been in the program created by DACA.
The Dream Act associated with this policy is intended to protect immigrant youth who entered the United States as children. These young people are seeking to reach their full God-given potential and fulfill the promise of being able to give back to the only country most have ever known. The decision to end this program plunges these immigrant youth into uncertainty.
As stated recently by the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “The cancellation of the DACA program causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families. The Catholic Church has long watched with pride and admiration as DACA youth live out their daily lives with hope and a determination to flourish and contribute to society: continuing to work and provide for their families, continuing to serve in the military, and continuing to receive an education. Now, after months of anxiety and fear about their futures, these brave young people face deportation. This decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.”
DACA is a pro-life policy which protects the life and unity of the family. The family is vital for building up a sound social order. Family is the very foundation of society and a communion of persons called to reflect the life of the Trinity. These images are not to be taken lightly because they reveal the heart of God for the family. These young people were brought to the United States by their parents because they desired to provide their children with hope, opportunity and safety that they could never find in their countries of birth.
In a recent interview, former White House strategist Steve Bannon, a Catholic, criticized the Catholic Church and U.S. bishops for their views on immigration, stating; “The bishops have been terrible about this. … Because unable to really … come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. … They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration.”
I, like many other bishops, find this statement outrageous and insulting. Jesus himself, in Matthew 25, has put the stranger, the immigrant, the refugee, the poor at the heart of his Gospel message, “For I was hungry and you gave me food… a stranger and you welcomed me.” The immigrant and the refugee are precisely the ones whom we are called to welcome. The sacred Scriptures very clearly declare that welcoming immigrants is indispensable to our faith. We will all be judged on how well we have responded to this call.
At the heart of Catholic Social Teaching is the moral obligation to protect the life and dignity of every human being, particularly the most vulnerable, which includes the many youth impacted by DACA. The church’s pro-immigration position is based on fidelity to God’s word and respects what all Americans desire — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To think otherwise is ridiculous and has no merit.
As stated by James Rogers, Chief Communications Officer for the USCCB, “The witness of the Catholic bishops on issues from pro-life to pro-marriage to pro-health care to pro-immigration reforms is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than the convenient political trends of the day. We are called not to politics or partisanship, but to love our neighbor. Let’s reject the forces of division that insist we make a false choice between our safety and our humanity. It is both possible and morally necessary to secure the border in a manner which provides security and a humane immigration policy.”
No matter where a person is politically on this issue, this recent decision by President Trump is clear evidence that permanent and comprehensive immigration reform in our country is desperately needed. Let us all pray diligently that this can be accomplished and soon.
Over the last several months I have written about your parish becoming a Stewardship Parish. Much of what I have written has been about how to become a Stewardship Parish. In referring to our diocesan priority plan, Through Him, With Him and In Him: A Spiritual Guide to the Diocesan Priority Plan,” I have spelled out the process for becoming a Stewardship Parish in “The Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish.” Some readers – and maybe you’re one of them – are asking, “Why is being a Stewardship Parish so important? Our parish is fine.” I am glad people are asking that question.
Patrick Lencioni, in his book, “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business” lists six crucial questions that need to be addressed for organizational health. They are:
Why do we exist?
How do we behave?
What do we do?
How will we succeed?
What is most important right now?
Who must do what?
It is important to note that Lencioni begins with the why question first — Why do we exist?
Simon Sinek, author, Columbia University professor and motivational speaker, says “very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief — WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
Sinek’s thoughts remind me of the prayer by the late Jesuit Father General, Fr. Pedro Arrupé, who answers his why question in finding and falling in love with God:
“Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
The why is the fulfillment of our true desire and happiness which can only be found in finding and falling in love with God in an absolute way.
Our sacred mission statement for the Diocese of Rapid City addresses the why question as well. “We, the Diocese of Rapid City, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are called to attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim and live the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.”
The why is eternal life!
In Paul’s letter to the Romans we hear: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rm 8:28).
Jesus tells us what his purpose is — to love and serve God, and to love and serve others. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mk 12:29-31).
In the 19th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, a young man approaches Jesus and asks him, “Teacher, what must I do to gain eternal life?”
Jesus, himself, asks him the why question, “Why do you ask me about the good?”
The rich young man kept all the commandments and desired to do good, yet Jesus has more in store for him than simply keeping the commandments. Jesus wants him to go further and deeper not only with his relationship with God, but with his brothers and sisters: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Why is being a Stewardship Parish so important? It is important because it helps us to focus our lives on Christ as the center of everything we say and do. It takes the focus off ourselves and puts the focus on the needs of our brothers and sisters, who come first, even before our own needs and desires.
Remember, stewardship is not a program; it is a way of life. Stewardship begins with a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, who reminds us of our own identity as beloved sons and daughters of the Father, and then sends us forth as missionary disciples who proclaim joyfully, boldly and lovingly the living Christ that leads us to eternal life.
In linking discipleship to stewardship, we are following Jesus’ examples. In Matthew 25:14-30 he describes a disciple in the terms of stewardship. The steward is the one to whom the owner of the household turns over responsibility for caring for the property, managing affairs, making resources yield as much as possible, and sharing the resources with others. The position involves trust and accountability.
The characteristics of a Stewardship Parish are meant to help us to be accountable not only to one another as missionary disciples, but also to our parishes and our diocese. The characteristics of a Stewardship Parish are meant to be a guide, a blueprint helping us to fall more in love with Jesus Christ by living a Catholic way of life through generous hospitality, lively faith and dedicated discipleship.
I welcome your questions and comments regarding stewardship in your life and that of your parish. Feel free to contact me at (605) 716-5214 x235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Diocese of Rapid City will participate in an emergency collection the weekend of September 23-24 on behalf of those devastated in parts of the Caribbean and southeastern United States by Hurricane Irma. You can give directly to the Catholic relief efforts either in the Caribbean (www.crs.org) or to the US areas (catholiccharitiesusa.org) affected by Irma.
To participate in the special collection: Indicate “Hurricane Irma” in the memo line or your check and turn it with the parish collection at Mass or their parish office. There will be no envelopes for these emergency collections. Parishes will send money to the chancery where the total is sent to the USCCB. USCCB keeps $0 and sends the rest to CRS/CCUSA for direct relief and for rebuilding churches.
From the USCCB:
WASHINGTON—The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited his brother bishops to take up an emergency collection the weekend of September 23-24 on behalf of those devastated in parts of the Caribbean and southeastern United States by Hurricane Irma. In a letter sent to bishops today, Cardinal DiNardo says the emergency collection is greatly needed to help victims of Hurricane Irma rebuild their lives and also help support reconstruction needs of churches destroyed or severely damaged in the U.S. and Caribbean.
Cardinal DiNardo’s letter to the bishops follows:
“In the past few days Hurricane Irma devastated significant parts of the Caribbean and the southeastern United States. While emergency outreach was immediate, we know that the road to recovery and the rebuilding of communities will be long and additional support will be needed.
“I write to you today and ask that you take up an emergency collection for those impacted by Hurricane Irma. These funds will be used in the affected areas to support humanitarian aid, assistance with long-term efforts to restore communities after widespread destruction, and for the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church in US and the Caribbean.
“I am aware that this call comes on the heels of the emergency collection for Hurricane Harvey. That storm, which hit Texas and Louisiana and held on for days before moving inland, caused catastrophic damage and compelled us to respond. Likewise, Hurricane Irma has been devastating and our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, especially the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and the southern US need our help.
“The Church is a channel for grace and solidarity in the wake of natural disasters as it offers solace and support in their aftermath. However, as is so often the case, the Church itself in these regions is both a long-standing provider of aid and now is in need of tremendous assistance itself. So many of the Church’s structures have been damaged and their resources depleted which makes it even more challenging to provide assistance and pastoral outreach to those in need.”