Hope and Healing After Abortion

Why abortion is so painful:

If you’ve experienced abortion, you are not alone. About one in four women will have an abortion during their lifetime.      Many people who have experienced abortion have negative emotional and psychological symptoms that can affect them for years. If you feel guilt or shame after an abortion, know that hope and healing are available for you. To understand why abortion can be so hurtful, check out the following links.

For local information, contact Carol at 605-374-5639 or email at ckling@sdplains.com

Testimonials about Rachel’s Vineyard

I hesitated to come (to the retreat) because I knew it was going to be intense and I wasn’t 100 percent committed to the religious concepts (or I was leery of them).  The retreat far surpassed all my expectations.  I have never witnessed so much healing and relief from anything else I have observed or experienced.”

The most profound impact of my second abortion was what it did to my relationship with my husband and children.  I withdrew, participated way less in family activities, and found it hard to be emotionally connected to them.  My husband seemed to have something gnawing at him, and I was afraid it was hatred for me.  We went to the retreat three years ago.  It’s amazing to look back at where we were then and where we are now.  We are a healthy, thriving family with much love freely shared all around.”

For 18 years, I have been haunted with heavy guilt that no one could take away, tormented by thoughts of what my child would have been like.  Through participating in Rachel’s Vineyard, I was finally able to forgive myself.  I know that God has given me a peaceful mind, cleansed my heart, and has washed away my guilt.”

I experienced a great inner healing.  I would highly recommend this retreat to anyone who has felt the void and shame of the abortion experience.  It is a wonderful way to forgive yourself, find the completely unconditional love of Christ, and grieve your loss.”

No words can explain the healing that I experienced on this weekend retreat.  It was conducted with love and gentleness in an area of my life that was war-torn, raw, and bleeding.  God’s mercy and love was behind this retreat.  It was so important for me to dig deep and release the pain of the past.  I believe this made room and God, then, filled that room with genuine love for lost children, family, friends, and especially ourselves.”

It was the best weekend of my life.  I was able to share my grief, my guilt, my anger.  I was able to mourn the loss of my baby.  But most important, I was able to believe that she now lives with Jesus.  For a short time I could almost touch her and hold her and see her.  For this, I will always be grateful.”

Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats for Healing after Abortion

Abortion hurts. And regardless of your belief about whether an abortion is the right choice, it is always a painful choice. Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreats offer a beautiful opportunity for healing anyone who has struggled with the emotional or spiritual pain of an abortion. Through a supportive and non-judgmental process, the retreat offers a safe place to find hope and to find healing.

Sometimes, we need to get away from the pressures of daily life to really discover the source of our pain. And once discovered and exposed to the light of Christ, that pain can be transformed. The mercy of Christ can penetrate even the deepest wounds, wounds which we might have thought were unforgiveable.

A Rachel’s Vineyard retreat consists of Spiritual exercises focusing on God’s forgiveness, compassion, and mercy. These spiritual exercises work on our hearts, while psychological exercises help us work through repressed grief and anger that may exist. Many preconceived fears of condemnation are transformed into blessings. Memories of abandonment, pain, and confusion are replaced by peace and reconciliation.

Rachel’s Vineyard retreat focuses on God’s love and forgiveness in a nonjudgmental environment.  Based in Catholicism, the retreat is open to and welcomes individuals of all denominations.

For more information, visit www.rachelsvineyard.org or contact Carol at 605-374-5639 or email her at ckling@sdplains.com

Rachel’s Vineyard, a safe place to find help

Rachel’s Vineyard is a safe place to renew, rebuild and redeem hearts broken by abortion. Weekend retreats offer you a supportive, confidential and non-judgmental environment where women and men can express, release and reconcile painful post-abortive emotions to begin the process of restoration, renewal and healing.

Rachel’s Vineyard can help you find your inner voice. It can help you experience God’s love and compassion on a profound level. It creates a place where men and women can share, often for the first time, their deepest feelings about abortion. You are allowed to dismantle troubling secrets in an environment of emotional and spiritual safety.

Rachel’s Vineyard is therapy for the soul. Participants, who have been trapped in anger toward themselves or others, experience forgiveness. Peace is found. Lives are restored. A sense of hope and meaning for the future is finally re-discovered.

What is Rachel’s Vineyard?

Rachel’s Vineyard weekends for healing after abortion are offered throughout the year in locations across the United States and Canada, with additional sites around the world. Rachel’s Vineyard is a ministry of Priests for Life. 

The program is an opportunity to examine your abortion experience, identify the ways that the loss has impacted you in the past and present, and helps to acknowledge any unresolved feelings that many individuals struggle with after abortion. Because of the emotional numbness and secrecy that often surrounds an abortion experience, conflicting emotions both during and after the event may remain unresolved. These buried feelings can surface later and may be symptoms of post abortion trauma.

Married couples, mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings of aborted children, as well as persons who have been involved in the abortion industry have come to Rachel’s Vineyard in search of peace and inner healing. The weekend is a lot of work but yields a fruitful harvest for all who are willing to labor there.

For more information on the history of Rachel’s Vineyard, the purpose of the weekend retreats and how they can help you, visit: www.rachelsvineyard.org.

Contact information:
Carol Kling – coordinator for Western Dakota retreats
(605) 431-5486 or ckling@sdplains.com 


God’s plan turns out much better than we can imagine

St. Thomas More High School students Ian Krump, Patrick Kellar, Rose Wingert and Liam McGuire mix cement for a new sidewalk at the Mustard Seed Community in Jamaica. (Courtesy photo)


This past Holy Week, I was blessed to be part of the St. Thomas More Mission trip to the Mustard Seeds Communities in Jamaica. One of the great lessons I had to relearn once again is that I need to trust God completely in his plan for our mission trip.

No matter how much we organized and planned out our trip, in the end, God’s plan would turn out much better than we could have imagined. It takes eyes of faith to see God’s plans unfold before us and one thing is for certain: “There are no coincidences with God.”

We left for Jamaica on Saturday, April 13, and spent over seven hours in the Rapid City airport waiting for the thunderstorms in the Dallas area to subside. We finally made it to Dallas that evening but missed our flight to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The earliest they could re-book us was Monday morning. We prayed as a group in the Dallas airport asking that Jesus and Our Lady would provide for a way out of the predicament in which we found ourselves.

We ended up staying at a hotel and renting four vans for our unplanned “layover” in Dallas. Mary Casey, one of the adult leaders, received a text message from a friend of hers encouraging us to go to the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas for Mass, and we decided to go to the Abbey for Palm Sunday Mass after viewing beautiful pictures on their website, even though it meant driving past a parish only minutes from our hotel.

When we reached the Abbey, Abbott Peter happened to catch sight of us as we were coming in. He made sure to officially welcome us at the opening of the Mass and then had Father Anthony give us a tour of the Abbey afterward. Father Anthony’s parents, who happened to be at Mass as well, went and bought donuts for us while we were taking a tour of the Abbey.

As an extra bonus to our time at the Abbey with the monks, we were treated to three amazing vocational testimonies by Father Anthony, Brother Christopher and Abbott Peter. It was truly a grace-filled time at the Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas and so unexpected. Thank you, Lord!

St. Thomas More High School has been sending students on mission trips to the Mustard Seed Communities for the last six years. Mustard Seed Communities began in 1978 as a home for a handful of children with disabilities who had been abandoned to the streets of Jamaica.

Today, MSC provides loving and lifelong care to over 600 children and adults with disabilities, children affected by HIV/AIDS, and young mothers in crisis across Jamaica, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

As we started the trip, I asked our students and adult leaders to name a desire of their hearts, to ask from Jesus a grace that they wanted him to do for them while on this mission trip. Alissa Stephens, a junior, shared this desire of her heart:

“I began to pray about what it was that God wanted me to get from this trip. Eventually, I realized what I desired was a deeper appreciation for the dignity that exists in every human being that I encounter.

“Throughout this trip, I spent numerous hours with the mentally and physically handicapped residents of the Mustard Seed Communities, and it was through doing this that I was able to see God’s love constantly at work in them and in all the members of the mission team.

Stephens continued, “Prior to the trip, I struggled with being able to look at a certain people around me and see God in them, but now it is much easier for me to recognize God’s presence in almost every person that I encounter.

“This trip was an amazing opportunity for me to serve others and at the same time,  grow in my own spiritual life. I can’t wait to continue spreading this newfound love that I acquired while in Jamaica.”

Spreading this newfound love is at the heart of a missionary disciple who has encountered the person of Jesus. Pope Francis writes in his encyclical “The Joy of the Gospel”:


At the end of the mission trip, we presented each of our young missionary disciples with the Mustard Seed Cross as a reminder to them to proclaim and live Jesus Christ and to see Christ in one another. The Mustard Seed Cross is indispensable to its mission and graces each of their community chapels. They describe it in this way:

“The transparent figure of Jesus represents the risen Christ and the barbed wire cross stands for the sufferings of the world. This unique work symbolizes the hope the resurrected Christ brings to those who may feel trapped by the barbed wires of fear, poverty, injustice, illness, or despair. It is particularly vivid when viewed as dawn breaks during early morning prayer in the Chapel. In the darkness, the cross is the only part that is visible, but as the light grows the body of Jesus becomes more apparent, reinforcing Christ as the light amidst the darkness of our lives and as Light of the world.”

When we returned from our mission trip, I noticed that several of our students were wearing their Mustard Seed Crosses to school, among them Joe Hanson and Michael Eastmo. I asked Joe, who will be entering the seminary this fall for our diocese, about the wearing of the Mustard Seed Cross. Joe responded, “I haven’t taken it off. It serves as a constant reminder to me of our trip and why I went on it.”

I pressed Joe a little bit and asked, “Why did you go?” He replied, “I went on this trip to have the opportunity to serve the most vulnerable in Jamaica, but also to help open my eyes to the presence of Christ in those that I am able to serve. This trip really taught me to see Christ in the people that I am gifted with the opportunity to serve.”

Besides hanging out with the residents, we also engaged in several work projects: painting some residents’ homes, building a sidewalk, hanging doors, putting screens on windows and purchased and built two personal energy transportation hand carts.

In visiting with Mary Casey, who has coordinated several of the St. Thomas More mission trips and helped this past year, she said she would be willing to be the contact person and help to coordinate any groups  looking for a mission trip experience. She can be contacted at: mcasey@rccss.org.

In the words of Pope Francis: “So what are we waiting for?”



The Announcement of the Year of the Eucharist

“Once you understand the Eucharist, you can never leave the Church. Not because the Church won’t let you, but because your heart won’t let you.”

We just recently celebrated the greatest event in human history — the depth of the Father’s love for us in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In giving away his Son, the Father’s only and deepest desire was and is to have a relationship with those whom he has called his own — each and every one of us.

As the mystical body of Christ, in our Catholic communities, each week we gather to experience this reality in the celebration of the most holy Eucharist. Far from being merely an event that we attend, it is here, in this sacramental moment, where each of us is drawn into this great mystery of love.

In order to draw us more deeply into this mystery, I have called for a Holy Year of the Eucharist in the Diocese of Rapid City. Unlike recent holy years, such as the Year of Faith and the Year of Mercy, this was not initiated by the Holy Father for the Church around the world. It is intended to invite each of us in western South Dakota to a deeper experience of encounter with Christ.

Because sin has entered into the world, humanity has fallen far from God’s graces, keeping us from that original holiness and thus subjecting us to “eternal” death. Our Catholic faith proclaims a “good news” and gives us an answer of hope that death does not have the last word. God’s compassion toward us and his mercy are infinite. “But God has proved his love for us. While we were still sinners Christ was sent into the world by the Father to die for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath (Rom 5:8-9).”

Through his death on the Cross, Jesus presented to the Father in heaven his perfect homage and obedience as reparation for humanity’s disobedience and sin. Jesus offered himself on the Cross for each of us, fulfilling his own words, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). Christ’s complete act of charity towards humanity allows us the opportunity to re-establish an authentic relationship with God and grow towards that original holiness.

This saving action of Jesus Christ is re-presented each time the Eucharist is celebrated. “It is Christ himself, the eternal priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priest, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.”

The Church fathers of the Second Vatican Council proclaimed that the Eucharistic sacrifice is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” The Church draws her very life from the Eucharist. The other sacraments and all the works of the Church flow from and are directed toward this great mystery.

The Church’s mission, our mission, flows from the mission of Christ: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21). From the Eucharist, the Church draws her spiritual power and then is sent on mission to “go therefore and make disciples” (Mt 28-19). The Eucharist comes to be “both the source and the summit of all evangelization, since its goal is the communion of mankind with Christ and in him with the Father and the Holy Spirit.”

Our union with Christ in the Eucharist, both a gift and grace, makes it possible for us, in him, to embrace fully his mission of love and mercy. When we come to understand this great mystery celebrated in the Eucharist and participate fully each time we gather, our lives will never be the same. We come to understand more deeply the Father’s love for us in Christ Jesus. Our desire for spiritual union with the Lord deepens. Our own sacrificial love intensifies and expands. Our aspiration to serve the Lord grows. These are the very fruits of our holy Communion.

Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought of how the Lord Jesus desires to bring us, individually and communally, deeper into this love relationship. When we deeply encounter Love, we are transformed by it, and become like the Lover.

As shepherd of the Diocese of Rapid City, I long to help others come to know and experience Jesus in a more personal and life-changing way, especially through the celebration of the Sunday Mass.

Over the past many years, there has been a decline in Mass attendance around the world. Half of all baptized Catholics in the United States who have left the Church now declare no church affiliation. Every family knows of people who no longer regularly attend Mass or have fallen away from the Church altogether. Perhaps it is because they have no clear understanding of the Eucharist, the Church’s greatest treasure. Or perhaps they came to Mass but did not give themselves over to this beautiful encounter with Love.

If not attended to, our faith can “become like smoldering cinders or embers — weakened by sin and secularism. It must be reawakened, fanned into flame. We must help Christians to encounter once again, this Jesus, especially those who have left the Church.”  The Year of the Eucharist is meant to help awaken the hearts of all Catholics across the Diocese of Rapid City, deepening the desire for Jesus in all of us. Celebrating this Year of the Eucharist is meant to help us come to a deeper understanding, appreciation, and experience of the Church’s greatest treasure.

This Holy Year of the Eucharist will commence on Sunday, June 23, 2019, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, and will conclude on that same Solemnity, Sunday, June 14, 2020.

Over the course of this year, the focus of the spiritual life of the diocese will be oriented towards the importance of the holy Eucharist in our lives as Catholics. All adult and youth religious education will give attention to some aspect of the Holy Eucharist — the Mass, its meaning and importance; Eucharistic Adoration; etc. Materials have been prepared for use in all parishes to help the faithful come to a deeper understanding and experience of this great gift so that the Eucharist will always be held in highest honor, received devoutly and frequently, and worshiped with supreme adoration. These materials will also assist pastors in carrying out their responsibility to teach the faithful diligently about this area of sacramental life.

By giving the Eucharist the prominence it deserves, we will show that we are attentive to the importance of the greatness of this gift Jesus left us. Over the course of this year, we will recall in more intentional ways the central event of history of our Catholic faith — Christ offering himself on the cross, the acceptable sacrifice which is made present each and every time the holy Eucharist is celebrated. This is at the heart of the Gospel and the living

Tradition of the Church. Christ has promised to be with us always (Mt 28:20), and he is to be known, loved and imitated. The holy Eucharist brings us into communion with him, enabling us to live with him in the life of the Trinity, and to not only be transformed by this love, but, with him, to transform the world through our lives made holy by this union.

We must remember that we are never alone because through the humble signs of bread and wine, changed into his body and blood, Christ walks beside us as our food for the journey, strengthening us to become, for everyone, witnesses of love and hope for the world.

As we begin the Year of the Eucharist, let us not forget Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. We ask her to intercede for us and assist us in meeting her Son in the Eucharist.  Every time we approach Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we turn to her who received the lifeless body of her son, and so received Christ’s sacrifice for the whole Church. In her, the world is renewed in Christ’s love. Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, pray for us.

Given in Rapid City, on 27 April, the Vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter, or the Sunday of Divine Mercy, in the year of our Lord 2019, the eighth year of my Episcopacy.

+Most Rev. Robert D. Gruss

Bishop of Rapid City


Video of text read by Bishop Gruss:



Curia Corner — What is a relic?

“Wait, What?” Noah said. “What? “Whose heart and it’s what, incurrrrr … what??”

My family laughs as I humbly try to explain to Noah, my second grade grandson, what an incredible gift we have coming to our diocese — the relic pilgrimage of Saint John Vianney’s incorrupt heart.

Relics are also the subject of the most often asked questions in my diocesan archives office.

I am frequently asked, “Whose relic is in the altar of my parish?” and “Don’t all altars in Catholic Churches bear a relic?”

The word relic generally means a part, sometimes of considerable size, of the remains of a martyr or a saint. A part of a human body, either a minute fragment or one entire limb, with the approval of ecclesiastical authority, can be the object of solemn veneration.

A 1st class relic, we believe, of St. John Vianney is housed in our diocese at Terra Sancta. It was discovered in our archives and Fr. Mark McCormick immediately sought out a reliquary to use this relic for veneration. St John Vianney is the patron saint of all diocesan priests. A first class relic consists of a part of the Saint, such as bone, hair, etc … the instruments of Christ’s passion. Underneath the back cover of the relic locket is a red wax seal. It is sealed shut and bears the insignia of issuing religious authority and their initials.

Then-Bishop Blase Cupich blesses the altar at St. Joseph Church, Spearfish. A relic of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was deposited underneath the altar in the tradition of building altars over the resting place of saints. (File photo)

St. Joseph’s parish in Spearfish received a relic of St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton as a gift from Msgr. William O’Connell. It was deposited beneath the altar of St. Joseph church on March 20, 2007.

The proper place for relics in our Catholic practice states, “The ancient tradition of keeping the relics of martyrs and other saints under a fixed altar is to be preserved according to the norms given in the liturgical books” (Canon 1237 — a practice widespread since the fourth century. “Book IV, Sanctifying Office of the Church” Cann. 834 – 12378).

Amy Julian, parishioner of St. Joseph’s who was instrumental in bringing that dedication to fruition says, “It was incredibly special to be a part of that process, and even the West River Catholic was there to take pictures and write a story. By celebrating the deposition in such a public way, we drew a lot of attention to this time honored tradition of building altars over the resting places of saints.”

Julian goes on to say, “Because relics are not easily identifiable through examination, it is important to have a chain of custody that authenticates and identifies the relic so that we know for certain which saint we are honoring and depositing into the altar. “

Our diocesan archives house relics specifically for this chain of custody, to inventory, for safekeeping, and to maintain and preserve the artifacts for all parishes to use, display, and keep this tradition alive in our parishes. They are not to be put away in a drawer, but respectfully and safely kept for historical relevance, in a safe environment controlled haven, church or archives.

A 2nd class relic consists of something that was owned by the Saint or instruments of torture that were used against the martyr. We do not believe we house any second class relics.

The archive does have many 3rd class relics of saints, such as Saint Padre Pio, St. Maria Goretti and Servant of God Francis X. Seelos. A 3rd Class relic consists of something that has been touched to a 1st or 2nd class relic.

Also present is a St. Rose of Lima relic. The stone encased in this gold case, surrounded by beautiful crystal like stones, is perhaps of the little grotto which she built, her small garden, or the bed she constructed herself, made of broken glass, stone and thorns.

The St. Rose Of Lima relic, perhaps our only 2nd class relic, remains undocumented, much like the relics in our parish altars, as of yet …

West River Catholic March 2019

Enjoy the March 2019 West River Catholic

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Allegations List

Year of the Eucharist

The Liturgy Commission of the Diocese has been working with me to develop a series of short teachings that can be used throughout the Year of the Eucharist in the context of the celebration of the Mass.