Statement from Bishop Gruss

Youth Rally ’18: The Road

Living the Mission

West River Catholic August 2018

Enjoy the August 2018 West River Catholic

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Venerating relics of St. Pio

By Laurie Hallstrom

A rare opportunity to venerate the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina will be offered in the Diocese of Rapid City, September 28-29 (see schedule at right). It will take place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Known to many as Padre Pio, he was a priest who bore the stigmata, or wounds of Christ. He was canonized June 16, 2002, by then-Pope John Paul II.

Vicar General, Fr. Michel Mulloy, said, “Relics bring us close to the saints, the men and women whom the church declares to be in heaven. God worked powerfully in their lives. Coming close to something that was a part of their lives, opens us up to the ways that God wants to work in our lives.”

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, relics in the Catholic Church are divided into three categories. First class relics are a portion of a saint’s body. A piece of bone would be an example. Second classic relics are clothing or objects that were part of a saint’s life, perhaps a rosary. Third class relics are objects, like a piece of cloth, that have been touched to a first class relic. The relics of St. Pio will be displayed in small containers known as reliquaries.

Describing a second class relic, Father Mulloy said, “I was in Assisi, Italy, and saw the tunic that St. Francis wore. It was amazing to think that this holy man wore this garment. It was a moment of encountering God through St. Francis and his own clothing. It helped me imagine his life. In seeing his clothing I could get in touch with him. It renewed my faith and trust and made me want to strive for a more holy life.”

Veneration, or showing great respect to a deceased loved one, is a common practice similar to decorating the grave of a relative. According to Catholic Answers, an organization dedicated to answering questions about Catholic Church teachings, during veneration Catholics do not worship the saint but ask their intercession for divine assistance with prayers.

Mary Daniel, director of Liturgy for the cathedral, said, “We will be setting out two wooden boxes at the front of the church by the handicap pews. Intercession requests and donations for the St. Pio Foundation will be placed in these boxes.”

Two Biblical examples of divine intervention through objects include the woman who was healed of severe bleeding just by touching the border of Jesus’ garment in Lk 8:44. Or in Acts 19:11-12, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured, and the evil spirits left them.”

The foundation will also provide religious items for purchase.


Cathedral OLPH Schedule for Relics of St. Pio

Friday, September 28

5:30 p.m. Votive Mass of St. Pio and Reception of Relics with Bishop Robert Gruss

6:30-10 p.m. Reconciliation

6:30 p.m. Veneration of Relics continues through Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

6:30 p.m. Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament resumes in Our Lady’s Chapel


Saturday, September 29

8 a.m. Mass for the Feast of the Archangels, Chapel

8:30 a.m Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament resumes Chapel

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Reconciliation

Noon Sung Rosary

3 p.m. Chaplet of Divine Mercy

5:30 p.m. Sunday Vigil Mass with Bishop Robert Gruss

Summit speaks to share powerful stories

Matt Loboda and his family from Phoenix, Ariz. He will speak at the Summit. (Courtesy photo)

By Shawna Hanson
Director of Stewardship


“A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way.” — Flannery O’Connor

“A lost coin is found by means of a candle; the deepest truth is found by means of a simple story.” — Anthony De Mello

As a third-grader, my son was really struggling to memorize his multiplication facts. We tried everything from flash cards to math games to incentives, all to no avail. He just could not remember them for more than about a day, particularly those involving the numbers greater than five. Finally, I discovered a program developed by a mom who had assigned names to the numbers 6-9 and then developed simple one-sentence stories that contained the math fact. For instance, 7 x 8 = 56 became, “Mrs. Weeks (7) and Mrs. Snowman (8) drove down the highway at 56 mph. (complete with a simple illustration).” In just a matter of days, my son, who had struggled for months, had memorized all the math facts associated with these number “stories.”  There is power in a story. For one thing, we remember them.  Stories stick with us.

In addition, stories have a power that the mere recitation of facts do not. They draw us in and arouse emotions in us.  They bring to the forefront of our minds our own experiences, our own stories.

Recently, I attended a reception for parishioners at the cathedral given to share information with us about the parish’s renovation plans.  Much good information was shared and all present seemed to enjoy the conversation and fellowship. But several parishioners shared with me later that the best part of the evening was Fr. Brian’s spontaneous

recounting of attending Mass at the cathedral for the first time as an Air Force officer newly assigned at Ellsworth. All of us delighted in the warm welcome he received from a fellow parishioner and in a real way, shared his gratitude and joy.

Stories often generate conversation and help foster friendship. In late July, I attended the Regional Stewardship Conference in Sioux Falls. There were many fine speakers and good information shared over the course of two days. But, in all honesty, what I enjoyed most was dinner on Thursday evening. Will Wisner, the director of our capital campaign, generously invited those of us from Rapid City to dinner. He also delighted us all with many of his adventures traveling across our diocese gathering information for our campaign. Thanks to his (and others)

talent for storytelling and his generosity in sharing it, all who were at our table had a delightful time.

Lastly, some stories have the power, as Anthony de Mello notes in the quote above, to convey deep truths. We know this is true of the stories Jesus told. In his parables, deep truths are conveyed through these stories which often use experiences and events drawn from the everyday lives of those he spoke to. Despite the apparent simplicity of these stories, books have been written unpacking the meaning of some of them.

My great respect for the power of a story well-told is one of the reasons I am so excited about the upcoming Summit to be held on Saturday, September 22 from 10: a.m.–8 p.m. at Terra Sancta. The speakers we have coming for this year’s Summit are master storytellers. They have some powerful stories to share. Matt Loboda is a father of five and works in landscaping in Phoenix, Arizona. In many ways, he is just like the fathers and husbands you know. But Matt has a very powerful story to share with us. In December of 2016, while visiting her grandparents, 19-month old Joy Loboda, was found floating face down in the swimming pool. She was not breathing.  Matt pulled her from the pool and began performing CPR. “As I breathed into Joy, I prayed that my breath would be the breath of God into her …,” says Matt. Thus, begins Matt story of a long, very difficult and faith-filled journey for Matt, his wife Kristen and Joy. A story of a modern-day miracle which, like all good stories, touches the lives and hearts of those who hear it; a story which allows Matt to share with us the sure and certain knowledge of God’s great mercy and love.

Jim Beckman is also a husband and father. He has a great gift for sharing stories from his own life. He was privileged to witness the miraculous healing of his father, and as a Youth Minister for a Denver-area church to minister, to students who experienced the Columbine shooting. Jim was the keynote speaker at the Summit two years ago, and here are a few things people said about him then: “Jim Beckman was excellent!”  “Speaker was Exceptional!” “I would love to hear him again.”

Finally, Chris Stewart and Tony Brandt will be there as well, sharing once again their inspirational stories and experiences from their many years of teaching and ministering as they did so well at last year’s Summit.

Bishop Gruss will be joining us, leading us in Mass and sharing his wisdom with us as well. I am looking forward to the event. I pray that you, too, are inspired to make every effort to clear your calendar and come. There are many ways we can choose to spend our time; many demands put upon us. But this is worth sacrificing for!

Come. Be inspired. Be renewed.

Bishop Gruss invited to become a CRL Board member


Bishop Robert Gruss has been asked to serve on the Board of Directors for Catholic Rural Life. He will begin serving a three-year term in November. The 94-year-old organization is headquartered in St. Paul, Minn.

Executive Director Jim Ennis said he met Bishop Gruss last year when they served together on a rural ministry panel. He recommended the bishop to the organization’s board.

The organization was founded in 1923, in St. Louis, Mo., by Fr. Edwin V. Ohara, who at that time was serving as the director of the National Catholic Welfare Conference’s Rural Life Bureau. He believed rural Catholics were underserved by Catholic priests, schools and hospitals. His primary interest was in religious education.

During the Great Depression the organization sought to help the economic plight of farmers by bringing attention to produce prices. In the 1940s the headquarters were moved to Des Moines, Iowa. Msgr. Luigi G. Ligutti became a spokesman for rural life issues. During the next two decades National Catholic Rural Life also focused on the spiritual needs of rural Catholics. It developed its own “Rural Life Prayerbook,” stressed blessing animals and fields and chose St. Isidore as the official patron saint for farmers. Between 1960 and 1980, the organization stressed farm-aid policies that did not change with political parties and responsible soil, energy and water stewardship.

Under the leadership of Bishop Maurice Dingman, with the help of Dr. John Hart, in 1980 a pastoral letter was developed: “Strangers and Guests: Toward Community in the Heartland,” and it was signed by 44 Midwestern bishops. In the 1980s, when many farmers and ranchers faced foreclosures, the organization began working to impact national food and agriculture policies.

In 2008, Ennis became executive director. In 2013 the name was changed to Catholic Rural Life and in 2014 the office was moved to St. Paul. Today the organization focuses on the environment, developing leaders in the agriculture community, and training priests and lay leaders who serve in rural areas. More can be learned about Catholic Rural Life from the Website, In the Diocese of Rapid City, Fr. Tyler Dennis, Martin, is the Rural Life Director. (History condensed from CRL materials by Laurie Hallstrom)

Black Elk canonization cause continues


Fr. Luis Escalante, postulator from the Congregation for Causes of Saints, Rome, looks up from the diocesan history book, “We Walk by Faith.” (WRC photo)


On July 26, in Rapid City, a local committee organized for the canonization of Nicholas Black Elk, servant of God, convened. The group called Officials of the Inquiry met with Fr. Luis Escalante, postulator from the Congregation for Causes of Saints, Rome. Also attending was  Ken Stuart, Archives Research Administrator for the South Dakota State Archives/South Dakota State Historical Society. Stewart is working on the induction of Black Elk into the S. D. Hall of Fame on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 9:30 a.m. in Chamberlain. The Black Elk descendants were represented by Myron Pourier, the great-great-grandson of Black Elk.

On July 27, Father Escalante went to Christ the King Church, Porcupine, and reviewed the files Vice Postulator Bill White has collected.

After Porcupine, Father Escalante went to Holy Rosary Mission in Pine Ridge. Black Elk’s work as a catechist originated from the mission in 1907. He is credited with bringing more than 400 people into the Catholic Church.

The diocesan phase of the process still includes gathering testimonies. In early 2019, the records will be sent to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints in Rome for review. No one knows how long the canonization process will take. To view the requirements of sainthood, check the West River Catholic digital archives, at see page 6.