Exodus 90 Spiritual Exercise

The first part of January we had more than 60 college students from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Black Hills State University that took two buses to Indianapolis for the SEEK Conference, in Indianapolis, Indiana, which is put on by FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students).

It was through the dedication and hard work of the FOCUS missionaries evangelizing and constantly inviting college students to SEEK that we were able to take this many people from these two small universities in Western South Dakota. God is good! 

SEEK was a five-day gathering of thousands of college students from around the country who met to learn more about their faith, to share in friendship, to be encouraged in their unique vocation and to experience the love and hope that comes from a real, personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ in his church. The theme for this year’s conference was “Encounter Something More.”

From my experience, those who went to SEEK or those who have encountered someone who went to SEEK are still “Encountering Something More” — in the person of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit two months later.

In Matthew 7:20 we hear, “By their fruit you will know them.” For me personally, this fruit can be seen in the six small groups made up of 20-plus college students and young adults, three FOCUS missionaries, two priests, and one director of campus ministry participating in Exodus 90.

Exodus 90 is a spiritual exercise — at times it feels more like a spiritual boot camp — that is rooted in the great story of the movement from slavery to freedom in the Book of Exodus. Exodus 90 is comprised of four pillars: prayer, asceticism, fraternity and 90 days.

The Exodus 90 program makes prayer foundational in this spiritual journey. Each man is called to do a daily holy hour with at least 20 minutes of contemplative prayer, listening and pondering on the word of God. St. John of the Cross calls contemplative prayer “Silent Love.”

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read that it is in silent prayer coming before the face of God that “we let our masks fall and turn our heads back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed” (No. 2711).

As part of the prayer pillar, each man is also encouraged to pray the morning offering, go to daily Mass if at all possible, pray at meals, frequent confession, pray during Eucharistic adoration and pray a daily Rosary. One of the great fruits of the prayer pillar is that I offer Mass at 6 o’clock on Saturday mornings and usually have two or three that will show up, which always warms my heart.

The second pillar, asceticism, helps participants acquire self-discipline. This self-discipline gives men back their interior freedom — the freedom to give up “the things of this world” so as to receive in exchange a blessed freedom which allows us to love our “neighbors” and our God.

The goal of asceticism is to give us the strength to reorder our life. In the catechism it speaks of repentance in this way: “Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all of our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance towards the evil actions we have committed” (No. 1431).

The ascetic disciplines within the Exodus 90 program include: cold showers, no alcohol, no desserts and sweets, no eating between meals, no soda or sweetened drinks, no television or movies (without the permission of the fraternity), only music that lifts the soul to God, no televised sports (without the permission of the fraternity), computer and phone for research and communication purposes only, regular and intense exercise, no major material purchases (without the permission of the fraternity), fasting on Wednesday and Fridays by eating one regular meal and two smaller meals while abstaining from meat, and minimum of seven hours of sleep each night.

The small group/fraternity that I am a part of decided at the beginning of Exodus 90 journey that if one of us falls or breaks one of these ascetic disciplines that we all agreed to sleep on the floor. To be honest, sleeping on the floor has been a difficult and a challenging one for me, more so than the cold showers every day — so far it is been six nights on the floor.

Small group fraternities are a real gift to the Exodus 90 program. These fraternities build a band of brothers who help to keep each other accountable in this intense journey to freedom. These fraternities meet three times a week, allowing each brother the opportunity to give a self-report for accountability and to receive encouragement from the brotherhood.

Why the 90 days? It is the length of time needed to re-learn or reboot the spiritual life. Researchers have found that it takes about 90 days for the brain to reset itself. That is why most rehabilitation programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, use the 90-day model. There is a saying in AA, “90 meetings in 90 days.”

Prayer. Asceticism. Fraternity. We are discovering these are indispensable practices that build one on another as they lead us to true freedom and a transformed heart in Christ.

Pastoral Center plans take shape


May 15, Chancery employees Mark Hazel, facilities director; and Deacon Greg Sass, Director of the Permanent Diaconate and Lay Ministry Formation; review the preliminary plans for remodeling the former credit union. (WRC photo)

At the end of March, Bishop Robert Gruss purchased the building vacated by a local credit union. (WRC photo)

Susan Safford, Michael Wilhelmi, Dottie Borowski, Tammi Williams and Dionne Eastmo check out the future copy/server spaces. (WRC photo)

Living the Mission 
By Fr. Michel Mulloy, Vicar General

In January the West River Catholic broke a story about the new diocesan pastoral center. The Diocese of Rapid City purchased the former Black Hills Federal Credit Union building on the east end of Main Street in March. Although the original plans, developed before the Living the Mission Campaign started in the diocese, called for a new Pastoral Center to be built on the campus of Terra Sancta, Bishop Robert Gruss did not stop looking for a suitable facility that would house the chancery staff. The credit union building has adequate space.

The credit union has moved to their new location. The bishop, vicar general, Chancellor Margaret Simonson and the Chief

Finance Officer Rick Soulek have been meeting with ARC International, an architecture firm. The diocese also hired Rangel Construction to manage the renovation. This group is working on the plans for remodeling this newly acquired facility so that it will best accommodate the chancery staff. The first draft of the renovation plan was shared with the full chancery staff to receive their input. Once the design is complete, the remodeling will begin. The projected date for the construction to commence is mid-August.

The building has two floors and a half basement. The basement  will  be  used  primarily for housing the archives of the diocese. These are all the records, both historical and financial, dioceses are required to keep.

The first and second floors will have enough offices for the chancery staff, currently about 40 employees, as well as a few extra offices for possible expansion of one department or another. Most of these offices are already in place. A section of the second floor that was previously filled with moveable cubicles will be converted to permanent offices.

The second floor will also have a small chapel. There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, a place to gather for Mass and prayer is a strong reminder to the chancery staff that our work is grounded in our diocesan mission to attract and form disciples of Jesus who want to live and proclaim the Gospel. In addition, the chapel will be used for daily Mass and times of prayer for the staff.

To accommodate meetings and committee work, the new pastoral center will have conferences and meeting rooms. Some of these already exist and some will be added during the remodeling process.

The design is simple and functional. This will be the place from which the bishop and his staff reach out in service to the diocese, that is, to all of us. Plans include ways to reflect the whole diocese in the artwork of the new Pastoral Center.

As you think about and reflect on your contribution to the Living the Mission Campaign, realize that the bishop and his staff are working to use the gifts that have been offered well. The diocese needs a new pastoral center and the purchase of this credit union facility will allow us to realize that aspect of the case elements in the campaign in a cost-effective way. 

Central Plains Commission established to best minister in prairie area

The Central Plain Commission is examining the spiritual needs of 14 parishes.

By Father Michel Mulloy, Vicar General

A couple months ago, a group of parishioners for the parish clusters of Eagle Butte, Timber Lake and Faith began meeting. Bishop Robert Gruss asked that the central area of the diocese go through a process of reflecting on how to best serve the needs of the parishioners in that area. This same process was employed across the northern tier of the diocese (the parish clusters of Buffalo, Lemmon, and McLaughlin) a few years ago. The result was a renewed vision of ministry and a reorganization of the alignment of the parishes in that area.

The Central Plains Commission has met three times. There are a total of 18 lay representatives for the three parish clusters as well as three pastors. I am facilitating the process. The first order of business was to develop a mission statement, so the commission members had a clear understanding of their task. We engaged this process by looking at the Diocesan Priority Plan. Any ministry in the diocese, whether in a commission like this one, or in an individual parish, must be guided by the mission statement, values and foundational ministers of the whole diocese as expressed in the Priority Plan. The Central Plains Commission’s mission statement is:

The Central Plains Commission will use our faith, knowledge of our communities and our commitment to develop a plan for bold, effective ministry in our area of the diocese, to meet the spiritual needs of all and to

inspire and motivate their  joyful living of the mission of Jesus Christ.

In addition to crafting this mission statement, the commission has begun to collect data about the 14 parishes that make up this area. This data includes the number of parishioners and their involvement in the life of their parish and the diocese. We are also trying to understand future needs.

The commission has had conversations about the faith life of the parishioners in these 14 parishes.  They have begun formulating what bold and effective ministry looks like and exploring the spiritual needs of the parishes that are represented on the commission. We have also begun assessing ways the individual parishes already have meaningful ministry and where it is lacking.

The commission members are listed here. You are welcome and encouraged to visit with them to understand their work and to have your questions answered regarding creating and implementing a plan for bold, effective ministry in the central plains for all who live in that part of the diocese. Your input will be most appreciated.

Lynn Hahne, Trail City

Jim Keller, Trail City

Bryan Gill, Timber Lake

Marlene Biegler, Timber Lake

Marcia Lindskov, Isabel

Mary Harris, Isabel

John D. Lemke, Dupree

Twila Schuler, Dupree

Nila Woodward, Dupree

Bud Neigel, Eagle Butte

Dean Schremp, Eagle Butte

Sylvia Mowrer, Promise

Ryan Tate Dennis, Red Owl

Dannie Arneson, Red Owl

Deacon Larry and Valarie Brown, Faith

Bob and Jennifer Orwick, Mud Butte

Fr. Brian Lane, Timber Lake Cluster

Fr. Bryan Sorensen, Eagle Butte Cluster

Fr. Janusz Korban, Faith Cluster

What is the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

By Fr. Michel Mulloy, Vicar General

The Year of the Eucharist will begin on June 23, 2019.  I thought it would be good to share with you some insight concerning the celebration of the Eucharist.

I think we need to begin by asking, why do I go to Mass? Years ago, a professor answered that question in a way that was clear and simple. We go to Mass to encounter God. We are seeking an experience of God. The bishop’s pastoral letter reminded us that God is also seeking an experience with us. We often speak of this desire on our part and on God’s part as encountering Jesus. So how do we encounter God (Jesus) in the Mass? The answer to that question will take a while to unpack but it is worth the journey. We begin in the depth of God as Jesus revealed God to us.

In our faith tradition, our understanding of God is that there is one God in three divine persons. There has been a lot of ink spilled over trying to explain that understanding. Every explanation is bound to be incomplete in some way and yet each explanation can open new insight for us as well. This is the insight I have learned over the years. For some of you reading this, my insight will be familiar. For others it will be new. For all of us, I believe it bears repeating.

I believe that Jesus told us two things about God. First, in God there is real relationship. In other words, within the life of God there is a dynamic dialogue, an interaction, a communication between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Second, Jesus told us that this real relationship is so complete and so intimate, that there is a total oneness in Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are parameters for thinking about and speaking about the Trinity. So, what does this relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit look like? How can we characterize it in a way that makes sense?

To answer this question, we need to look at Jesus’ life. God became man in Jesus of Nazareth. We can then assume that the way Jesus the Son related to God the Father in his life on earth reflects the relationship within God. Jesus’ life is best understood as sacrifice. In his life and ministry on earth, Jesus sacrificed himself to God the Father. This was made clear in his death on the cross. His words in the garden express the essence of his life. “Father … not my will but yours be done,” (Lk 22:42). Jesus’ relationship to the Father was one of sacrificial giving.

Jesus lived this life of sacrifice through, with and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit, Jesus was conceived. Through the Spirit, he was gifted with wisdom and teaching authority. The Spirit descended on him at his baptism and he lived his public life in the power of the Holy Spirit. Finally, in his death, he gave us his Spirit. The Holy Spirit enabled and empowered Jesus to give himself to the Father.

The Father’s response to his Son’s sacrifice was to give life back to the Son. Both at Jesus’ baptism and at the transfiguration, Jesus is revealed as the beloved Son. The Father’s pleasure in his Son’s life and teaching enlivened Jesus’ life on earth. Ultimately, the Father gave life back to his Son in the resurrection.

The relationship of God reflected in Jesus is one of mutual giving. The Son sacrifices his life to the Father. The Father responds by giving the Son new life. The Holy Spirit empowers this exchange as the advocate, the counselor, the guide.

If this is confusing, I would encourage you to read it again. Our understanding of God is vital for us to understand how we encounter Jesus and his Father in the Eucharist. We will continue these reflections in the coming months of the Year of the Eucharist. Consider clipping this article out and saving it as a reference for future months.

Presenter shares wisdom from ministry experience

The daily challenges of ministry in the church were brought to life with humorous anecdotes and sobering facts by the keynote speaker Fr. Charles Lachowitzer at the annual Pastoral Ministry Days, April 8-9 at Terra Sancta Retreat Center, Rapid City. He is the Vicar General for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“One Spirit — Priests and Laity Working Together to Form the Mystical Body of Christ” was the theme for the conference created by Director of Faith Formation Susan Safford and the PMD Committee. It included keynote addresses, adoration, the Divine Office, discussion time, and Mass. Various ministries and businesses were available to participants during breaks in the vendor’s area.

Father Lachowitzer said the archdiocese is just emerging from bankruptcy proceedings to settle sexual abuse lawsuits. He said the priest abusers have humiliated the church in a tsunami of scandal. While the archdiocese begins to recover, he commented, he envied the Diocese of Rapid City moving forward with a pastoral plan, Through Him, With Him, and In Him.

According to Father Lachowitzer, pastors want to be involved in more than by-lays, bulletins, buildings and boilers. In his presentation, the “Seven ‘C’s” he gave the following pointers:

  • Conversation — computers are windows to the world, but he recommended any email message longer than one paragraph should be delivered face-to-face. “It is in conversation we hear the hearts and minds of the people,” he said.
  • Conflict — resolution requires dialogue and acceptance. More often than not miscommunication is the source of conflict.
  • Communication — we are drowning in information, but how do we get people’s attention? He said talk to them, and added “imagine the problems if a crew on a ship didn’t talk to each other.”
  • Consultation — make certain the pastor and staff are on the same page. Boards and councils are to assist and bring resources to the administration.
  • Control — one person does not need to do everything. Invite more people to participate, Jesus called forth the 12 and scattered the seeds of truth. Father Lachowitzer said there still needs to be a chain of command to garner the gifts of baptized.
  • Collaboration — bigger than nicely working together, the mission of the church transcends local parishes calling all to become part of the global church. Sharing resources is part of collaboration; competition is for sports teams.
  • Compassion — is at the heart of all the church leaders and parish bodies. It is stirred by listening to those who no one listens to. “To imitate the heart of Christ we recognize we are all sinners and we all need the same graces,” he said.

Photo and article appeared in the April 2019 West River Catholic. Photo and text by Laurie Hallstrom.

Easter Triduum 2019

How to Talk to a Friend Who’s Had an Abortion

Your heart goes out to your friend. You may or may not agree with her decision to have an abortion, but clearly she is hurting. And reassuring her that she made the right choice, or the only choice, doesn’t seem to be helping. The last thing you want to do is judge her, but how can you help?

Listen with your heart. Offer her love and support. But don’t try to minimize her pain. And lastly, help her to find the right kind of help.

Click here to read an article with lots of practical tips on helping your friend to find the healing and support she needs. Let her know about Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats for healing. Encourage her to call Carol at 605-374-5639 or email ckling@sdplains.com.