Cardiac Team (R-L) The medical team that helped Fr. Mark McCormick get back on his feet — Christopher Murphy, Christian “Cody” Murray, Father McCormick, Mary Vigoren, Dr Samuel Durr, Samantha Emeline, Hank Houston, Justin Krebs, and Ryan Braun. (Courtesy photo)
By Fr. Mark McCormick
This fall semester started out a bit rough for me health-wise. This summer I felt fatigued and worn out. I was short of breath as I was out hiking in the hills. Even walking up a flight of stairs I experienced chest pain.
Toward the end of August, I was supposed to be hiking in Glacier National Park with a high school classmate of mine. I thought I better call him to see how far we were planning to hike each day. He told me 12 to 18 miles. I thought, “Holy —-!” I cannot even walk up a flight of stairs without being winded; there is no way I can hike that far each day.
I decided it was best to call my cardiologist before heading out to tramp around Glacier. I did not pass my stress test and my angiogram showed that I had three blocked arteries. My doctor declared, “Your trip to Glacier is out for this summer.” The first of September, I had triple bypass surgery.
While I was still in the hospital, I found myself filled with anxiety and unable to sleep. I decided to pull out my cell phone and to listen to praise and worship music, hoping that would help ease the restlessness I was experiencing.
The first song I hit on my playlist was Matt Maher’s “Run to the Father.” I have listened to this song before, however this time the lyrics pierced my heart in a new way.
“Running into Your arms
Is running to life from death
And I feel this rush deep in my chest
Your mercy is calling out
Just as I am You pull me in
And I know I need You now
I run to the Father
Fall into grace
I’m done with the hiding
No reason to wait
My heart needs a surgeon
My soul needs a friend
So I’ll run to the Father
Again and again”
As tears rolled down my face, the restlessness and anxiety washed away and was replaced by the peace of our Father’s love pouring into my heart.
This abundant outpouring of grace was amazing — one that I will continually run back to again and again. I sense that Jesus, the Divine Physician, has healed my heart in a deeper way, not only physically but spiritually as well.
I see the fruits of his healings in my daily life, from walking to the way I eat to what I read and even to how I preside and pray the Mass with greater joy in the Lord.
These days 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 has taken on new meaning for me as I try to be a better steward not only my physical self but of my spiritual self, too. “Do you not know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives within you, whom you have received as a gift from God? You are not your own. You were bought with a price purchased by Jesus’s blood. Therefore, glorify God in your body and in the Spirit, which belongs to God.”
St. Paul teaches us that our body is the Spirit’s dwelling, that sacred place in which the Spirit not only lives but is worshiped, revered and honored. We are called to see our bodies as holy and living temples of God who dwells within us.
We are called to lift up our bodies and adore Christ in them as temples of the Holy Spirit. Of course, this is easier said than done. Nonetheless, it is our charge by the Holy Spirit.
In his desire to bring healing to my physical and spiritual heart, the Lord drew me to use my recovery time to read three books on the spiritual fatherhood of a priest. All three challenged me to live my priesthood in more intentional and sacrificial ways, helping me to grow in my own identity as a priest and spiritual father to those who have been entrusted to my ministries.
For over six weeks I celebrated daily Mass without a congregation, on a kitchen table or a dresser, with a heart of gratitude for my priesthood. I thanked God for the opportunity to live my priesthood, my spiritual fatherhood anew.
I was struck by this quote in Father Carter Griffin’s book, “Why celibacy? Reclaiming the Fatherhood of the Priest.” He quotes St. John Paul II: “For the priest it is Eucharistic love that daily renews his fatherhood and makes it fruitful,
transforming him evermore into Christ and, like Christ, makes him become the bread of souls, their priest, yes, but also their victim, because for them he is gladly consumed in imitation of him who gave his life for the salvation of the world.
“In other words, a priest is as good as his Eucharistic life, his Mass above all. A Mass without love, a sterile priest. A fervent Mass, a priest who wins souls.”
Prayer cards and novenas were also part of the box that included a statue of the Virgin of Charity, patroness of Cuba. (Courtesy photos)
By Kathy Cordes
This story begins in La Havana, Cuba, with a wooden crate marked ‘fragil’ and an artifact inside, laying on wood straw with authentic, possibly human hair. I had never seen anything like this. It looked to be the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus, standing on top of ocean waves, three men in a boat with several angels. Intriguing! In the same box, was an enormous amount of prayer cards and novenas. Fascinating!
Sr. Christina Hernandez, SCTJM, chancellor immediately recognized and began to read — Una hermosa imagen de la Madre de Cristo apareció flotando sobre las aguas de la bahia de Nipe en los primeros aňos del siglo XVII. Yo Soy La Virgen De La Caridad!
This is the Virgin of Charity from Cuba. Wow! My research reveals this ‘Maria’ holds a beautiful story. Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre is the patroness of Cuba and one of the most important symbols in Cuban culture and the Roman Catholic Church. Amazing!
But why is it in the diocesan archives? How do we determine what should be in the archives? What happens when we decide to keep an item?
Determining if a collection belongs in our diocesan archives requires many accession or inventory steps. After the initial research of an object, the following is a short synopsis of the process and is an inventory of and for history: Research to determine the provenance of an artifact. What is the history behind it? Where did it come from? Who owns it? What will be the goal of owning this artifact? Does it belong in a parish or on display in our archives? Is it important to our diocese and/or the history of our church?
Is this object authentic? This statue did not come with a certificate of authentication but the history and names associated with the date.
Catalog the object. Typically, archives use a trinomial numbering system. The number assigned Our Lady ‘Maria’ is 2021.16.1 — the year the artifact is collected, the grouping I assign to statues, and the succession number. In this case, the first item of group 16 in the year 2021.
Photograph and enter all historical and documented history in our computer system which is museum/archival software called Past Perfect. Retains all history, itemizes artifacts and objects.
The goal: clean, restore and paint. Our chancellor, Sr. Christine would like to display this in her office.
Coming full circle, from Cuba to Rapid City: if only Maria could tell us of her voyage and all those who have prayed over her in the last century. One of those prayers is from Sister Gabrielle (St. John the Evangelist, Rapid City, 1975): I beg your intercession so that we may be granted the joy of being together in Heaven! Amén.
We are once again moving through the month of November, when temperatures drop and the natural world around us undergoes a kind of dying and dormancy. The scripture readings at this time of year focus on the “last four things”: death, judgment, heaven and hell — as one liturgical year ends and a new one begins.
Of course, as Americans we will celebrate another Thanksgiving this month as well, remembering all the blessings God has bestowed on us individually and as a nation.
Some thoughts on death
Since both nature and the liturgy remind us that all things in this world are passing away, I offer these elements of our Catholic faith for your reflection.
We are mortal beings and as such we experience death in this fallen world. God did not intend us to die, but when sin entered the world death inevitably followed. We should all think about death and prepare for it, both our own death and the death of our loved ones. Of course, we who have come to know Jesus Christ are filled with the hope of everlasting life after death and that makes all the difference in the world! If we are in friendship with the Lord, we do not have to fear death, even though we will grieve and mourn as we experience it.
Given all the different ideas about death and what takes place after death floating around in our increasingly secular culture, I implore you to make plans for your death and funeral that are in keeping with our Catholic faith. One of the saddest things I see in obituaries these days is the announcement that there will be no funeral services at the person’s or the family’s request. How sad, and how unhelpful for the grieving process.
We have a very human need to grieve the death of a loved one, to remember their life and honor it and more importantly for a disciple of Christ, to remember Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Jesus Christ came in the flesh to save us from sin and death and win for us everlasting life. From the very beginning Christians gathered to grieve the death of a believer by remembering Christ’s death and resurrection and celebrating that, by God’s grace, we are united with him in death so that we can also share in his resurrection.
As you think about your own death, I urge you to make plans for a Mass of Christian Burial with your parish priest. You will be doing your family a favor and helping the church to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in a very important way.
As part of those plans remember that we follow Christ in the pattern he set for us in his death, burial and resurrection. As his followers we honor and give a fitting burial to the bodies of our loved ones in death. Just as Christ’s body was carefully prepared for burial/entombment awaiting his bodily resurrection on Easter Sunday, so we bury/entomb the bodies and mortal remains of our loved ones awaiting resurrection at the end of time. Our bodies are not to be discarded. Instead, they are to be honored with
Christian burial. The church still prefers the burial of the body after death. If you have good reasons for choosing cremation, please remember that you need to make plans for the burial or entombment of the cremains. Scattering cremains or dividing them up is not respectful of the body in death and is against Catholic practice.
The way the church approaches death and marks the death of a person is meant to remember and proclaim our sharing in what Christ did for us in his death, burial and bodily resurrection and to help us grieve in a hope-filled way.
Even with the challenges of the past year we have much to be thankful for. I invite you to take some time to count your blessings. God’s blessings come in many different forms. Even if the past year has included crosses for us to carry, the Lord has been with us each step of the way, providing for us in his providential love. So, let’s take some time to count our blessings and give thanks for the many ways the Lord is with us.
God bless you and those you love,
By Amy Julian
Director of Family Life Ministries
“I did not understand St. Joseph well enough, but that will change.”— St. John of the Cross
One hundred fifty-years after Blessed Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis authored an Apostolic Letter, Patris Corde (With a Father’s Heart) and declared Dec. 8, 2020 – Dec. 8, 2021, to be a Year of St. Joseph. Seven years earlier, Pope Francis had added the name of St. Joseph to several of the Eucharistic Prayers, after the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Clearly, our Holy Father is calling his flock to embrace the witness, prayers and protection of the man who was the foster father of Jesus.
On Dec. 8, during the Mass of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bishop Peter Muhich, in union with the priests and faithful of the Diocese of Rapid City, will answer that call by closing the Year of St. Joseph with a consecration of the Diocese of Rapid City to St. Joseph.
What is a consecration, and what does this mean for our diocese? To consecrate means “to set apart”— such as a chalice or an altar are consecrated, set apart exclusively for use within the Holy Mass. Thus, a consecration to St. Joseph is the short way of saying the complete reality: that our bishop, with his spiritual authority over our diocese entrusted to him by the Lord, will be consecrating, setting apart, our diocese for Our Lord and his kingdom through the paternal intercession and care of St. Joseph. It is almost like setting a spiritual seal on our diocese — and thus, upon each one of us and our families — setting us apart from the power of the enemy and sealed by and for the goodness, truth, beauty, and life that flows from the heart of God; the same goodness, truth, beauty, and life that St. Joseph knew, experienced, and allowed to transform his masculine and paternal heart during his years of earthly pilgrimage at the side of Our Lady and Our Lord. This is an immense grace!
To prepare the faithful to fully engage in the Consecration, the diocese is sponsoring an Advent Mission, “Go to Joseph,” on Wednesday, December 1, 8, and 15. Building on previous recent “hybrid” events, the diocese will host mission events at parishes in the Black Hills that will be livestreamed on the diocesan website, to allow for the participation of as many parishes and faithful as possible. In addition, portions of those mission nights will be pre-recorded, so that parishes throughout the diocese will be able incorporate those elements of the mission into their local celebrations.
Dec.1 — Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City, 6 – 7:30 p.m. “The Beauty of the Heart of St. Joseph,” Deacon Josh Lee
Dec. 8 — Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help: 5 – 6:30 p.m. “The Power of Consecration to St. Joseph/St. Joseph, Defender of the Eucharist” Homily & Consecration, Bishop Peter Muhich
Dec. 15 — Our Lady of the Black Hills: 6 – 7:30 p.m. “Pillar of Families, Glory of Home Life,” Fr. Mark McCormick.
The Mission on Dec. 8 at Cathedral will include adoration and Josephite devotions from 5 – 5:30 p.m., followed by the Mass of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The Mission nights on Dec. 1 and 15 will include music, testimonies, reflections as well as adoration and Josephite Devotions. For any questions on how you might fully engage in the consecration, please contact any member of the Pastoral Ministries team at the Chancery, 605-343-3541.
Bishop Steven Biegler, Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming
By Laurie Hallstrom
The Catholic Social Services Annual Gathering honored Bishop Steven Biegler from the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyo., with the Founder’s Award, Oct. 22 in Rapid City. He is a former priest of the Diocese of Rapid City. The award is in remembrance of the late Msgr. William O’Connell who was instrumental in founding CSS.
Three people gave testimonials on Bishop Biegler’s behalf. His mother, Mary Biegler of Mobridge, recalled a car-horse accident that her son Steven was injured in, when he was 11 years old. As the horse and car collided, he was thrown up on the car roof and into the ditch. The horse went through the windshield and was killed. He was taken by ambulance to Mobridge where he was diagnosed with a broken collar bone and the skin had been scraped off his right elbow. Mary said an old army doctor pulled out glass shards and scrubbed gravel from his scalp. “Through this whole time, I was comforted with hope that nothing really bad had happened. I had faith that was given to me by parents and my grandfather. … Our faith is a wonderful thing; we all belong to the family of God,” she said.
His brother, Marty Biegler, of Timber Lake, explained the importance of family, “You have generations, Steve, of good family. The family worked hard, and they worked together.”
Fr. Brian Christensen, pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City recalled shenanigans that went on between their brother priests and then-Father Biegler was in the thick of the pranks. Father Christensen pointed out that as priest, Father Biegler and Msgr. William O’Connell were the first diocesan priests to minister on a reservation following the Sacred Heart Fathers leaving the Cheyenne River Reservation. “Over and over again you have been a model to us of commitment, work and dedication,” said Father Christensen.
Bishop Biegler was also the keynote speaker for the event. He began his speech recalling his relationship with Msgr. O’Connell. In 1990, Bishop Biegler was a seminarian studying in Rome and Msgr. O’Connell took a sabbatical there. “I really got to know him for the first time,” said Bishop Biegler. He went on to recall the number of times their paths crisscrossed and how Msgr. O’Connell was a mentor to him. “In God’s providence we walked together, and I cherish those years,” said Bishop Biegler.
He said Pope Francis chose the parable of the Good Samaritan, for the center of his encyclical, Fratelli tutti (All brothers), answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Bishop Biegler said we have become accustomed to looking the other way when we see the poor and vulnerable in the world. He said Pope Francis has warned us repeatedly about indifference and he invites us to learn from Jesus’ compassionate gut reaction and tender mercy toward marginalized people.
Following Bishop Biegler’s speech, CSS Executive Director Jim Kinyon explained the organization’s ministry during the difficult days of the pandemic. He thanked the audience for their continued support.