Photos from the construction site at the Diocesan Pastoral Center
September 30, 2019
September 25, 2019
September 19, 2019
I think this last summer was one filled with sharing in the cross of Jesus. I say this not as a way to complain about my team or that the parishes were all unpleasant and unwelcoming. I say it rather because that is what the Lord put on my heart and put on my body as well. I was sick multiple times this summer, and I felt very downtrodden because of it. My own interior self was suffering as well with doubts of how everything was going to get done and how my team would handle being down a leader. I also lost some consolations in prayer that I was used to receiving. However, there is still joy in carrying the cross. Though I felt empty, I was filled each day anew by the Eucharist and the grace of prayer, and I had some great moments that let me know that what we were doing was fruitful, and it needed to be done. There were times with the kids and with my teammates where I saw God working in them, and knew that though we toil, our toil was not in vain this summer. The line that we kept coming back to was, “we are fools for Christ,” from 1st Corinthians, and thank goodness we weren’t expected to be anything more.
I came into Duc In Altum this summer with two core desires: to give back to the Church, and to have the adventure of a lifetime. God fulfilled both of those desires, but I never could have imagined all He’d do. You see, I’ve spent the first 20 years of my life in California, and the last 3 years in Arizona. I had never set foot in South Dakota. This was all new territory for me.
Every week and every day, I encountered God’s love – not only in the Church, but also in the new faces, families, communities, adventures, and experiences. There were many moments where I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.” Moments like sitting on a paddleboard in Timber Lake with the teens while the sunset blinded me. Moments like soaring over the open ranges of Lemmon in a plane while receiving free flying lessons. Moments like seeing the eyes of a child light up when he learned about Jesus in the Eucharist. Or moments like sharing tears with a teen when she connected with my testimony. There are too many moments to recount here.
This summer I encountered God in the generous hearts of so many of His people. Never had I felt so welcomed and loved. God showed me what true love looks like. Not just the “fluffy” kind of love, but the backbreaking, self-sacrificing kind of love. The kind that gives of herself even when she is exhausted and doesn’t feel like it. Real love.
I encountered Him in the unknown. Just having graduated college, God was whispering to me this summer, asking me to trust Him with my future. Every week He taught me more about what trust looks like. As we traveled home to home, at times I felt like Mary and Joseph. I gave up most of the control and independence I had developed in college, and I trusted that we would have a place to stay and meals to eat, even when I didn’t know what that looked like. I began to learn the beauty in just trusting and receiving. Even when things in my personal life were seemingly falling apart, God reminded me that just as He was exceedingly providing for me this summer, He would continue to do so. Every day we had a holy hour in front of the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, and I sat there and let myself be held by Him. Despite the highs or lows of the day, I ran to the Eucharist daily, and His graces permeated me. I noticed an interior strength and trust I had not seen before.
Overall, my encounter with God this summer could be summed up in the words, “love” and “trust.” Every week, as God continued to cover me in His love and call me to trust Him, my heart was being transformed. I can only pray that this transformation was being bled upon all the young people I interacted with.If I impacted any of these young people, it was not with my lessons; it was with my relationships with them. For God to transform their hearts, He had to transform mine. He is still at work in me, and He is still at work in them. I may never see these young people again, but I can trust that the seeds that were planted will continue to be nourished by new gardeners. As it turns out, God is so much bigger than California, or Arizona, or even South Dakota. God is alive, and so is His Church, my friends.Thank you for allowing me to tend to and be nourished by your garden. For the greater glory of God!
While serving the Lord this summer through Duc in Altum, I grew and was blessed in ways that I wasn’t expecting at all. Going into the summer, I felt that I was being called to Duc in Altum so that God could continue forming me into the man that he is calling me to be. Almost every single day, I was given challenges and experiences that tested my limits and my patience, but ultimately made me a stronger person each time. I was reminded this summer that in order to live a life in God, your life must be grounded in prayer. By maintaining our team’s schedule and commitment to prayer, I felt my heart becoming more aligned to Christ’s.
The Lord gave me a profound love for the Eucharist this summer. As we traveled the diocese and encountered Christ in countless new experiences and people, I really came to rely on our uniquely Catholic gift: the Eucharist. In a summer of constant change from Rapid City to Timber Lake to Ft. Pierre and beyond, I was always able to rely on the same Jesus in the Eucharist through adoration and the Mass. God gave our team the opportunity to travel the diocese and form meaningful connections at every turn. He even fulfilled a longtime dream of mine — to fly a private plane — on TWO separate occasions (it was incredible)!! Now I am coming back to college — a world that is far from the Catholic “bubble” that I experienced this summer. But, after all of the experiences that I had this summer, I feel equipped and ready to bring Christ to the depths, wherever he leads me.
In 2017, when Pope Francis called for a regional synod on the Amazonian region to take place at the Vatican, it surprised many Catholics. The Amazon invokes images of dense jungle pierced by its namesake river. The region is much more than that. Five times the size of Alaska, it has a population of 31 million, of which 3 million are indigenous peoples. It is undergoing a rapid, some say ominous, transition, as small-scale farmers, corporate ranchers and miners clear the land and often come in conflict with local tribes. The region is plagued by widespread environmental damage as well as military strife, drug trade and human trafficking.
Binding the region together is the presence of the church. Its missionaries and pastoral workers, priests and men and women religious, sometimes at great risk, have ministered to the indigenous peoples as well as the settlers and farmers. In the sprawling shantytowns and in the villages, the church struggles to accompany the people of the Amazon.
Catholic News Service over the past several months has reported extensively from the Amazon, helping Catholics to understand both its spectacular diversity and the threats that endanger it. In preparation for the Oct. 6-27 synod, here are some stories highlighting the region.
Articles from Catholic News Service
To examine all the writings and documents related to the Servant of God Nicholas Black Elk was the charge of the Historical Commission for the diocesan cause of the canonization.
We were comprised of Mark G. Thiel, CA, President of the Commission, Archives of Raynor Memorial Libraries, Marquette University, Wisc; Father Michael Steltenkamp, SJ, professor of Anthropology and Religious Studies, Wheeling Jesuit University, W.Va.; and myself, representing the Diocese of Rapid City as archivist.
Forming a collaborative network was quite a task. We were to search out and gather all published writings, those not yet published as well as historical documents. Father Luis Escalante, Postulator from Italy, asked that we research local areas, repositories, Black Elk’s time spent in Yankton/Vermillion areas, and to check Wyoming where he was reportedly born. One finding incorrectly reported Black Elk as being born in Montana.
Many, many emails, phone calls exchanging ideas, hours of research, waiting for return phone calls and excitement shared that one of us had found this or found that. “Did you know, there is a park in Nebraska …” “Please check out …” read one email. Another remarked “ Hmmmm, I had never heard of that manuscript of his …”
Thiel said, “The Historical Commission’s quest for archival documentation has been an exciting adventure of hunting and stalking into the past. With pain staking scrutiny, we uncovered and studied holdings large and small, which illuminated Black Elk’s holiness and added clues about obscure parts of his life. (Did you know that our diocesan archives and Marquette have an extensive collaboration between the diocese and St. Francis and Holy Rosary Indian Missions?)
The final Historical Commission Report detailed why the name change to Black Elk Peak, several photos of Mass being celebrated on top of Black Elk Peak and much more. To view the full Historical Commission report, please visit our diocesan webpage www.rapidcitydiocese.org. The link to Black Elk, Servant of God is in the lower left corner of the home page.
Many others from the diocese also put in many hours of work on Black Elk’s cause. The personal letters written by Nicholas Black Elk in Lakota were verified by Father Joe Daoust, SJ, of Pine Ridge and translated by Patricia Catches the Enemy, both of Pine Ridge. Catches the Enemy was the Official Verifying Translator on the inquiring commission of Cause of Canonization of the Servant of God — concerning the Life and Virtues and Father Daoust is Episcopal Delegate of the Cause of Black Elk.
“Nicholas — pray for us as we open our hearts to recognize the Risen Christ in other cultures and peoples, to your glory and honor” (from prayer for the Canonization of Nicholas Black Elk).