West River Catholic December 2019

Enjoy the December 2019 West River Catholic

Father Hofer to serve as Chaplain to the South Dakota National Guard

Warrant Officer Lonny Hofer, retired National Guard, swears in his son Father Adam Hofer, while First Lieutenant Pat Moran holds the microphone during the ceremony. (Photo Courtesy Brenda Schneller) Visit our Facebook page to see the full video of the swearing in: www.facebook.com/DioceseofRapidCity.

Father Adam Hofer, Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City was sworn in as a First Lieutenant in the South Dakota Army National Guard in November. An informal celebration was held at the parish December 8 to celebrate the occasion.

“My decision to become a chaplain in the National Guard was influenced by the serious need for chaplains in general and for Catholic priests in particular to serve as chaplains in the National Guard,” he explained in a statement to the West River Catholic. “About 24 percent of the soldiers in the South Dakota National Guard are Catholic. Also, my dad served a long career in the National Guard and I have a significant appreciation for his service and example, as well as for the chaplains and their services and support provided throughout my dad’s career. As a priest, I believe that I can support our men and women in uniform who sacrifice for the freedom that we enjoy as Americans. My service is also founded in permission to serve from the Office of the Bishop.”

His service will entail attending the “drill weekend” with the Joint Force Headquarters unit each month as well as for two weeks during the summer. He will also attend a Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Jackson, S.C., to learn military protocol and chaplain specific training to effectively serve the soldiers.

A sneak peek at the new diocesan archives

Those who have toured the basement love that I have put my title on the door already. (WRC photo)

Did you know there are three floors in our new pastoral center? Not many people do. A basement is often overlooked but in the new pastoral center this floor will be taking on new life as we move our current diocesan archives. The move in date has yet to be determined.

The diocesan archives have been on quite a journey. Over the years, we have moved from a 290 (est.) square footage one room Chancery building basement (behind the Cathedral) to nearly 2,000 square feet at Terra Sancta Chancery Annex to the upcoming new Pastoral Center in downtown Rapid City.

Our diocesan archives are at maximum capacity!  Making this new move will enable us to work more efficiently, timely, up to date. Currently, the archives occupy five rooms on two floors, and two small closets at Terra Sancta.  My main workspace serves as an office and processing area all in one.  At times, more often than not, it looks as if I am moving and there are boxes and artifacts all over! Packages and boxes are left on my doorstep, sometimes anonymously, as someone is usually downsizing or cleaning out their attic. 

The new floor space will be in a much larger room with the space needed to process files, artifacts and collections. These will be easy to access and items will not be stacked on top of one another. Additional surfaces for sorting and arranging collections and some storage for supplies will be beneficial. I will have ample storage space and I will be able to scan photographs and books without moving a separate desk around to line up with my computer. My hopes are to purchase a book scanner that permanently sits on a separate desk to use efficiently and not have to move and reinstall this piece of equipment every time I want to use it. I will be able to work among the ‘stacks’ and not have to move my research into a different office. 

Our diocese must adhere to record retention guidelines regulated by S.D. state law and our church Canon Laws. Canon law states a diocese must have adequate space to store records and artifacts.  Canon Law also defines what records need to be stored permanently. Records such as financial records, employee records, etc. must adhere to South Dakota State Retention guidelines. 

Windows are typically not used in archival storage areas. This practice is used to protect collections from light, humidity and excess heat gain or loss. Different areas to house such items as tin type negatives are individually temperature-controlled areas along with an area to house photos that will not be subject to the same elements as above.

Growth and expansion are important for our future, our history, and our especially Catholic history. We are called as Christians to reach out to the next generation, to pass on our faith. The foundation being the heart of Catholic history just may be found in the basement!

‘Do we really believe in God’s ability and desire to transform our lives?’

“A branch shall sprout from the root of Jesse, and the glory of the Lord will fill the whole earth, and all flesh will see the salvation of God.”
—Entrance Antiphon for Dec. 20

The season of Advent; this season of silence and stillness; the season of waiting is fast approaching its end. In just a little while we will begin our celebration of Christmas. The glory of the Lord will once again “fill the whole earth” … or at least as much of it as we have given to him to fill. For the Lord cannot fill a cup already full. 

This is the great challenge of Advent; to do some major de-cluttering in our hearts in the stillness and silence. In “The Reed of God,” author Caryll Houselander has provided some beautiful imagery to help us do just that in imitation of Our Lady. She speaks of the virginal emptiness of Mary as an “emptiness like the hollow in the reed, the narrow riftless emptiness, which can have only one destiny: to receive the piper’s breath and to utter the song that is in his heart. It is emptiness like the hollow in the cup, shaped to receive water or wine. It is emptiness like that of the bird’s nest, built in a round warm ring to receive the little bird.” 

She goes on to ask, “can someone whose life is already cluttered up with trivial things get back to this virginal emptiness?” Yes! So, too, can those who are too full of their own big plans, those who are “too set on their own conscious purpose in life … Zealots and triflers and all besides who have crowded the emptiness out of their minds and the silence out of their souls can restore it. At least they can allow God to restore it and ask him to do so.”

If we have not yet captured the silence and stillness of Advent, it is not too late to do so. With God, it is never too late. Doing so is well worth the effort because as we learn from the example of Our Lady, into this emptiness rushes the Holy Spirit and in her case God is made man —  the Incarnation — the greatest event in human history. For us as well, new life will be made in us when we make space for the Holy Spirit, when we carve out stillness and silence and dwell in expectant emptiness. 

We can also follow Our Lady further and continue to learn from her. Having received, Mary then gives. “She had nothing to give Him but herself. He asked for nothing else. She gave Him herself. Working, eating, sleeping, she was forming His body from hers. His flesh and blood. From her humanity she gave Him his humanity.” As Houselander points out, Jesus is formed as Mary moves through her daily activities. “Every beat of her heart gave Him his heart to love with. … Breaking and eating the bread, drinking the wine of the country, she gave Him his flesh and blood.”

This is where stewardship enters our story. In embracing this Catholic Way of Life, we allow God into all our daily activities; we invite the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in our lives; we allow him to guide our daily activities, choices and work and he brings his life into the mundane. Like Mary, we have nothing to give but ourselves. And He asks for nothing else. But when we give that which we have, he gives back life in abundance. I think sometimes our greatest barrier to living this life of generosity, of abundance, of dedicated discipleship is that deep down we really don’t believe that it works this way. We doubt His generosity, we doubt our own ability to receive and then to give. Deep down, do we really believe in God’s ability and desire to transform our lives; to make them holy? If we struggle, living a life of stewardship can help. Stewardship gives us concrete ways to bring God into the small, daily choices of life. To allow Him to be made in the ordinary. To live deeply in the mystery of the Incarnation.

May the remainder of our Advent be filled with expectant stillness and silence. May we all experience the deep love of the Word Incarnate this Christmas. Many blessings to you and to your family from the Office of Stewardship!

Highpoint of Mass is Eucharistic Prayer

The Eucharistic Prayer is “the center and summit of the entire celebration …” (GIRM 78) To state this is not to say that this is the only part of the Mass that matters. All that has led up to this moment is preparation. The summit of a mountain does not exist except that it sits on the mountain itself. Up to this point in the liturgy, we have experienced the risen Lord present in the gathered community and in the person of the priest presiding. We have acclaimed our sinfulness and known again the mercy and love of God in Christ. We have glorified God present. We have heard Him in the scripture readings that have been proclaimed. We appreciate anew the marvelous works God in his son Jesus which are summed up and fulfilled in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thus, the Eucharistic Prayer is the summit toward which we have been climbing. 

Even so, it is difficult to truly enter this moment in the Mass. During the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest does most of the speaking. This leads to passivity, not because we want it to, but because this is what happens when one is speaking, and another is listening for a significant time. At least most people tell me that this is the time in the Mass where it is easy to become distracted. We can’t change the way the prayer is presented. We can understand the Eucharist Prayer better and engage the prayer in ways that invite a more dynamic involvement.

We need to understand the Eucharistic Prayer as something the whole assembly prays. The priest as Christ present leads his body, that is, the congregation. The General Instruction notes that the priest …  “unites the congregation with himself in the prayer that he addresses in the name of the entire community to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit” (GIRM 78). For the priest to unite the assembly with himself, the assembly must be ready and willing to join the Eucharistic Prayer.

As stated above, the Eucharistic Prayer is addressed to God the Father. Like the whole of the Mass, Christ present in us, offers himself to God the Father and God the Father responds. The Mass is a prayer dialogue. The Eucharistic Prayer begins in dialogue reminding us that we are praying to God the Father and that both the priest and people have a part in that dialogue. 

The first statement is a strong reminder that God is in our midst. The whole first part of the liturgy has affirmed that. God is present in the community gathered and in the Word we have shared. The community acknowledges this and declares that God is present in the priest who is leading them. This is our belief. Christ is in his church when they gather, head and members. St. Paul uses this dialogue often in his letters. We continue this ancient practice, recognizing the Lord is with us here and now.

Next, the priest invites us to lift our hearts to the Lord. We are asked to give ourselves to God, who is at once, present to us and also living in glory. Everything that we have done at this point in the liturgy is summed up in this phrase. We respond that we are doing this now. Our attentive listening, our speaking the prayers and our singing all speak about how sincerely we have lifted our hearts to the Lord.

The priest then sets the tone for the rest of the Eucharistic Prayer. He reminds us that we are going to give thanks to God. We give thanks because we remember what God has done for us. We

remember that we are blessed by God’s love and action in our world. Remembering we are blessed, we offer thanks. Thanks lead to praise of God’s goodness. Our response says that we understand how

important this is, that we have in fact touched the goodness and blessing of God and we believe it is right — not just a nice idea — but RIGHT to give God thanks and praise. The general instruction says it this way. … “the meaning of the Prayer is that the entire congregation of the faithful should join itself with Christ in confessing the great deeds of God and in the offering of the sacrifice” (GIRM 78). The Eucharistic Prayer is a model for our Catholic way of life. The Eucharistic Prayer is then, a stewardship prayer.

In the next few columns we will deepen our understanding of the Eucharistic Prayer and our participation in this center and summit of the Mass.

It’s important our bishops connect to the greater Catholic Church

In mid-November I represented the Diocese of Rapid City at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops fall meeting in Baltimore, Md. It was another interesting experience in this journey as the diocesan administrator.

I visited with each of our former bishops and Bishop Steven Biegler and witnessed again the clarity of their teachings and guidance. We have been so blessed by the bishops who have called western South Dakota home. As the administrator, I was accorded the full rights and privileges of all the bishops. That was humbling.

I want to thank you for making this trip possible. Each year during the Annual Appeal we talk about the expenses for the Bishop’s Office. This is such an expense. It is important that our bishop connects to the greater work of the Catholic Church in America and the world. The meetings and the meals, the prayer and the casual conversations allow the bishops to connect with one another, to understand the experience of the Catholic Church in the United States. You make this encounter possible with your support of the annual appeal. I am deeply grateful.

The meetings began on Sunday with various committees of the USCCB convening to do the individual work each focuses on. The general sessions began on Monday and concluded on Thursday morning. The days were full, with two general sessions each day and a meeting of the bishops from each region (our region is Minnesota and the Dakotas) during the week. Mass was concelebrated each day and Morning and Midday Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours started the general sessions. On Thursday there was a two-hour period of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the opportunity for confessions.

During lunch times and in the evenings, groups, agencies and organizations that support the Catholic faithful hosted receptions to share about the ministry they offer to continue the mission of the church. The days started early and ended late and, although there were the inevitable moments of boredom that come from hours of intense listening through the general sessions, still the whole experience was uplifting and exciting.

The bishops of our country are, in my estimation a dedicated and faithful group of men. They love the church and they want to lead their people into an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ that calls them to continue his mission in our country. They are ordinary men who are, nonetheless, called to extraordinary service. They serve willingly, if not always perfectly. Praying with them, listening to them, sharing stories, laughing and reflecting, gave me a deeper respect for them and the burden they carry. They deserve our prayers and our support.

The topics at this conference would not be unfamiliar to any of us. Life issues were very present in the committee reports and action items that were discussed. They were attentive to the scourge of abortion and it is clear that they see it as the first issue among many that threaten the dignity of the human person. The immigration crisis was also notable on the agenda. Bishops who live along the southern border see firsthand the devastation that impacts the dignity of the real human persons caught in this legal battle. The magnitude of this crisis and the excellent work being done through the Catholic Church was documented for us. Whatever our political leanings, we cannot look at the face of Jesus Christ and not be moved to action on behalf of those who are suffering in this situation. I was impressed with the amount of lobbying that the USCCB does in Washington, D.C., on this and many other issues of concern to us all.

Another topic that was very prominent in the agenda was the sexual abuse crisis. There was a call to continue to be present to and listen to the victims of abuse, to see in them the suffering Christ. Building on the efforts to protect children and vulnerable adults that have been implemented in the past, the bishops continued in this session to develop a system for holding themselves accountable. In the new calendar year, a third-party system for reporting alleged sexual misconduct of bishops as well as their deliberate mismanagement of abuse cases will be available. As damaging as this whole experience has been and continues to be for so many, the bishops are striving to bring justice and healing to victims of abuse and our whole Catholic Church.

The conference also voted on some documents that they have been working on. These included a discussion of the pope’s apostolic exhortation following the Synod on Youth and Young Adults, an additional letter calling all Catholics to exercise their right to participate in the political process of our country, the acceptance of a new translation of the Latin text that outlines the RCIA process, and a new priestly formation program document to guide the formation of seminarians in our country. Some of these documents were not finalized and will continue to be developed.

This is just a smattering of my experiences at the bishops’ conference in Baltimore. It was eye opening, inspiring and challenging and reminded me again that we are so blessed to be a part of this great Catholic Church.

December 2019 — Diocesan Pastoral Center

December 20, 2019
Scenes from the Diocesan Pastoral Center Tours.
Next public tour will be held January 17, 2020.

December 11, 2019

December 6, 2019

Attention Musicians: Join the Bilingual Choir

Hello everyone!

I would like to personally invite you to join the Bilingual Choir “United inChrist/Unidos en Cristo”for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe December 12,  5:30pm, at Blessed Sacrament Church in Rapid City.

In  following our Bishop’s call to be “good stewards” for our diocese I strongly encourage you to prayerfully consider joining us for this very special Mass and be a good steward of the gifts God has given you. I have listed the dates and times of our choir rehearsals, all of which are held at Blessed Sacrament. If you are not able to attend these rehearsals but would still like to share your musical talents, please contact me by calling 605-341-1143. If you have any questions please contact me or Maria Munoz at 605-791-3430 and we will be happy to help.

Rehearsal dates at Blessed Sacrament are as follows:
Saturday, December 7, 10am-noon
Sunday, December 8, 3-5pm
Thursday, December 12, 4:15pm (before Mass)

Please prayerfully consider joining us for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe — even if you decide not to sing in the choir.

Thank you and may God’s grace be upon you! 

—Terry Schroeder