October 2019 — Pastoral Center photos

October 31, 2019

October 25, 2019

October 18, 2019

October 9, 2019

West River Catholic October 2019

Don’t let the devil’s lies separate you from God’s love

By Laurie Hallstrom

“You are not alive by chance, God could create you to be alive at any point in history, but he chooses you be alive right now. (You belong) in this moment, in this place, with all that is going on,” said Fr. John Riccardo, from the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Father Riccardo calls his ministry “Acts XXIX” referring to the continuing story of the church from where it ends with the Bible book, Acts 28.

In his first presentation, “Created,” he explained the world is crying. For the first time since 1918 there has been a consistent drop in life expectancy for three years in a row. He attributed that to deaths of despair — rising rates of suicide, cirrhosis of the liver in 20 and 30-year-olds and the opioid crisis.

“The beauty of the Gospel is the message itself can change lives,” said Father Riccardo citing the healing, freedom, wholeness and salvation it brings.

“These are great days to be alive — not boring. God has equipped you with anything you need to be instruments in his hands so as to share the Gospel.

“You want happiness and God has a monopoly on happiness,” he said.

According to Father Riccardo, the two accounts of Genesis, which are not literal, they teach us there is just one God and he created us effortlessly. “We are made in his likeness which means we are made for friendship, to be loved and to love. People are made to be divinized,” he said.

After listening to Father Riccardo and then spending time in prayer, a young adult  participant said, “I became aware of the fact that I have many people that I hang out with, but no one that I would call a close friend. I felt a loneliness that I hadn’t allowed myself to feel and now I feel God encouraging me to seek out more authentic friendships.”

In his second presentation, “Captured,” Father Riccardo explained the origin of the devil and his mission on earth. Satan is a fallen angel cast out of heaven because rebelled against God. The priest explained the “fall of man” in the Garden of Eden and its consequences. Quoting from the book of Wisdom 2:24, he said, “through the devil’s envy death entered the world.”

He said Satan’s tactics include accusing, lying and dividing with the ultimate goal of separating people from God’s love. He went on to name several of the devil’s lies:

“I don’t matter.”

“I’m not loveable.”

“I’m not worth anything.”

“No one cares.”

“God’s not your father —he’s not even

real — be done with him.”

Father Riccardo said, “God wants to expose the lies, expose what Satan is doing in your life.”

Participants were given time for adoration and reconciliation. They were asked to pray and reflect on Satan’s lies in their lives.

More than 50 volunteer ambassadors helped guide people through the day. One of them told Shawna Hanson, director of the Office of Stewardship, as Father Mark McCormick walked past her carrying the monstrance “I felt Jesus say to me ‘I love you so much.’ Those words came into my heart with such tenderness, that tears filled my eyes. It was several minutes before I regained my composure.

“How did that encounter change me? I desire more than ever before to spend time with him in prayer, and to sit before him in the Blessed Sacrament — what a beautiful gift!”

A participant explained how she was touched during the reflection period, “Five years ago, I lost a daughter to suicide. The last conversation we had was an argument. We were both so angry and I have carried so much grief, sorrow, regret and guilt since then. 

“I woke up on Saturday and didn’t want to come to the Summit, but a gentle voice came to me saying, ‘when you don’t want to go, that’s when you really need to go.’ All day the Lord was gently nudging me, ‘don’t take notes, just listen’ and ‘go get in the line for confession.’

“Once in the confessional I shared that I had this grief, this guilt that I just couldn’t shake.

“‘Unnatural death is hard,’ the priest said.  I don’t remember what else he said but it was so peaceful, warm and loving — it was the voice of Jesus.  ‘Your daughter loves you, Momma. She forgives and she is with Jesus.’ I left feeling surrounded in warmth and love as if I were wrapped in a cozy blanket.” She said she intends to share the love she felt from Jesus that day.

In his third presentation, “Rescued,” Father Riccardo asked the question, “What, if anything, has God done about our situation? This is God’s shocking unexpected response to sin. We take for granted maybe, that our situation is not hopeless. Your life would be utterly meaningless, stuck in frustration, if God had not done something.”

Explaining God entered into his creation through the incarnation of Jesus, Father Riccardo said, “God became a man to fight, to go to war, to rescue the creature that means the most to him — you,” he said. He came to destroy the works of devil.

Father Riccardo had an insight into the crucifixion during a time of prayer. He came to understand Christ as an “ambush predator” — a creature that lies still, camouflaged, and pounces on its prey.

According to Father Riccardo, Jesus sweats blood, he is arrested, chained, slapped, judged, stripped, scourged to the point of death, and nailed to a cross — all for the purpose of attracting his prey.

“He is trying to entice death to himself. This is how the early church understood the passion. God wants his creation back, that’s us. The enemy comes close to mock and taunt him,” he said.

Father Riccardo pointed out that through the passion Christ shows us how much he loves us. Jesus absorbed every human sin making the atonement for us. Beaten, scourged and stripped before being nailed to the cross, He paid the price to make us right with God.

“What are the results of the passion?”

asked Father Riccardo. “He has destroyed death, transferred us, recreated us, rendered sin impotent, humiliated the enemy, gave us authority over the enemy and sent us on a mission to get his world back.”

Father Riccardo said, “Whatever hell you’re in, take his hand, he is utterly unconquerable, and he can deliver you.”

A Mass and a healing service followed the presentations. “The Summit  was amazing. I loved the message and healing Mass.  I have never been to that before and it just rocked me. Amazing!” said a participant.

(Shawna Hanson contributed to this story.)

Beata Oszwaldowska, Najeelah Rodriguez and Mary Rahela Pelayic wear little sheep headbands and learn to follow the Good Shepherd. One catechist said, “Thanks so much for letting me help with the Youth Track this weekend. I had so much fun! Those little ones are so funny!” (WRC photo by Laurie Hallstrom)

Deacon John Osnes of Piedmont, led the children in adoration. A catechist explained, “During Adoration with the children we shared the story of the woman who touched Jesus’ cloak and was healed. We asked them to think of someone they knew who needed healing and to ask Jesus to bring healing to them. We also told them that the woman’s illness made her an outsider, no one would be her friend or talk to her. Then they thought of someone they knew who didn’t have friends. After some quiet time, they came up close to the monstrance, one-by-one and prayed for these people. They gently touched the Jewish prayer shawl we had wrapped around the monstrance. The reverence and sincerity that these children showed touched my heart deeply. It brought tears to my eyes.” (Photo by Shawna Hanson)


Curia Corner — Moments in the diocesan archives

St. Anthony, St. Anthony, dear St. Anthony, please come around. Something is lost and needs to be found. Please Grant me the serenity to accept the collections I cannot decline and the courage to decline the collections I can!

Did you know that archivists have their own serenity prayer and that St. Anthony is a major help when it comes to discovering and maintaining an archive and its historical artifacts?! 

Moments in the diocesan archives: Fr. Carlos Casavantes, FSSP, Immaculate Conception Parish, Rapid City, brought in this gem of an unidentified miter cap in a silk casing (right). Who does this belong to? Who wore this and when? Still researching but quietly hoping it is from the early years. St. Anthony …

A tourist couple from North Dakota was visiting Terra Sancta last week, inquiring as to the status of the cause of Nicholas Black Elk. After sharing their interest and collecting our brochures, and prayer cards of Black Elk, they asked for us to pray for them as they are in need of a family miracle. Nicholas Black Elk, pray for all those suffering and grant this couple the miracle they are so eagerly searching for.

Two newsletters have expressed an interest in publishing our accounts of Nicholas Black Elk. Exciting news as we continue to spread the word of this exciting cause and help Nicholas reach sainthood! 

I am assisting Fr. Joh Paul Trask with his hours of research of Eagle Butte and the land property on the Cheyenne Reservation. Eagle Bute has numerous parishes, missions and cemeteries. We are trying to preserve thos stories lost from the elders of family and the history that surrounds them before those parishes become only a memory. 

At the Summit 2019 last weekend, a few approached me and said “the picture you found of Bishop McCarty waving while driving a tractor” (right) that was used for the  Cathedral “Living the Mission Campaign” was fabulous.  They also curiously mentioned, “Are they really sticking you in the basement of the new pastoral center?” … The most infamous question as of yet! Stay tuned!

St. Anthony, St. Anthony pray for our diocesan archives and our daily work. Help us to uncover the treasures of our history and reveal our mission as we walk in HIS path! 

‘I have grown in my appreciation of the people’

Life is not dull in the driver’s seat. For all of you that are wondering or curious, it has been a great ride thus far. The challenge is non-stop. There is something new each day. Thanks for the privilege of serving you as the diocesan administrator. Let me share some observations from this side of […]

September 2019 — Pastoral Center photos

Photos from the construction site at the Diocesan Pastoral Center

September 30, 2019

September 25, 2019

September 19, 2019

Duc in Altum 2019

This summer, the Office of Vocations served 20 parishes and touched the hearts of 668 children and youth through our diocesan Duc in Altum program. Duc In Altum draws its name from Luke 5:4 where Jesus instructs Simon Peter “put out into deep water” (Duc in Altum). You will see how Max Vetch, Corbin Olson and Cristina Esquivel, heeded the call of Jesus, to put out into the deep and to cast the net of faith. Strengthened by the Eucharist the Lord fulfilled the desires of their hearts beyond their own imaginations as their faith was stretched to help our children and youth to put out into the deep this summer.

Max Vetch

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.

Cristina Esquivel

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!

Corbin Olsen

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.

The Perils and Promise of the Amazon

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