West River Catholic July 2021 News

Instruction via the Two Roads by Nicholas Black Elk

Promoting the cause of Sainthood of Nicholas Black Elk   


By Kathy Cordes, Diocesan Archivist

Dating back to late 1800s, the Two Roads pictorial catechism, used by Nicholas Black Elk and other Native Catechists and Jesuits, depicted salvation history. A new acquisition to the archives, on loan from Deacon Bill White and his wife Terri, is the pictorial catechism of the Two Roads, “Instruction/on by means of the Two Roads.”

Included in the display are references for further reading. The couple spent many months dissecting the section of the Two Roads as part of their Veritatis Splendor Master’s project. (The VSI program is sponsored by the Diocese of Rapid City to train catechists.) The couple’s purpose was to provide current biblical quotes or parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) for references.

“We had originally wanted to take his narrative and update it for current times, but after visiting with some of the members of the Black Elk board, we decided to stick with the authenticity of Black Elk’s writing,” White said.

The Instruction/on by means of the Two Roads” explains that the image features two roads: the good road leading to heaven and the bad road leading to the home of the devil.

“If we desire to go to heaven, and three things we must  observe: 
We must believe all that God has revealed. 
We must observe the commandments of  God.
We must receive the seven sacraments.

“There is only one God, but there are three persons in God whom we must adore, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (CCC.234). These three persons are one God. They possess all things: all alike. One Wisdom, one kind. God is a living spirit (Jn 4:24) (Rm 5:5). He has no body, and don’t need to have any. God is very great: can do all things, He knows everything, and is in heaven and on earth. God made everything according to his will (Rom 8:28) (Eph 4:20) (Ps 148:2-5).

“First, he made angels and they were good, but a part of them failed to adore God, so he cast them away and made them to suffer. They will suffer for all eternity in the home of the devil (CCC 391). Those who were obedient to God are now in heaven” (CCC.331).

“I appreciate the work of Deacon Bill and Terri to help capture the apostolic zeal and creativity of Nicholas Black Elk,” said Bishop Peter Muhich.  “We can all appreciate his (Black Elk’s) example of holiness.”

Starting July 27, watch the Nicholas Black Elk website (https://blackelkcanonization.com) and the Facebook page (@nicholasblackelkservantofgod) for detailed photos from Two Roads image. We welcome pictures and narratives for both in order to keep the image of Black Elk alive and well. His catechesis and his work to unite peoples together lives on today. Servant of God Nicholas Black Elk, pray for us!

Looking back at my 1st year as your bishop

Bishop Peter Muhich counts three permanent deacon ordinations and one transitional deacon ordination as highlights during his first year as Bishop of Rapid City. On June 29, he presented Deacon Joshua Lee a book of Gospels after Lee’s ordination as a transitional deacon. (L-R) Dcn. Bill White, Dcn. Rich Olsen, Bishop Muhich, Dcn. Greg Sass, Dcn. Joshua Lee, Master of Ceremonies  Ken Orrock and Fr. Brian Chistensen, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral. (WRC photo by Laurie Hallstrom)


On July 9, I celebrated my first anniversary as a bishop.  Even with the challenges of the pandemic and the various problems we have faced as a diocese I can honestly say that I am grateful for everything we have been through together.

Being a new bishop means learning many new things, from when to wear my mitre and when to hold my crosier to how to navigate through personnel matters. It has been a busy year. I have particularly enjoyed getting out to most of our parishes and look forward to visiting the rest soon.  My guardian angel has kept me safe on long drives on the prairie and has helped me find things when my Google navigation has failed me in the Black Hills.

My first Christmas and Holy Week as a bishop at the Cathedral, my first ordination of three permanent deacons and one transitional deacon were highlights, as were my first round of confirmations across the diocese.

I have enjoyed getting to know my priests and deacons. They have all welcomed me warmly and I am impressed with the generosity of their service. I am grateful for the dedicated religious who serve our local church, from the Benedictine Sisters at St. Martin Monastery to the Jesuits Fathers and Brothers at Pine Ridge, Rosebud and St. Isaac Jogues, to the Ursuline Sisters at Pine Ridge, to the Franciscan Sisters at Standing Rock, to the Sacred Heart Fathers in Lower Brule, to our Hermit in Piedmont and the Fraternal Society of Saint Peter at Immaculate Conception Church in Rapid City.

The staff at our chancery have given me able assistance during a time of budget cuts and the need to do more with less. We said farewell to Susan Safford, who left us after years of effective ministry to care for her ill father, and recently celebrated Margaret

Simonson’s retirement after almost 23 years in the important role of chancellor.

An unexpected blessing has been the opportunity as bishop to welcome a new religious community to the diocese. The Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary have agreed to send sisters here to assist in important roles at the chancery (chancellor and director of pastoral ministries/faith formation) and at St. Thomas More Middle School and High School directing campus ministry and teaching theology.

I want to thank those of you who have sent donations to help us welcome these new sisters to the diocese, get them established in a new convent and provide for their needs. We have received a good number of donations for which I am most grateful. If you would like to help, donations large and small are still needed.

Looking back over my first year as your bishop, I clearly see the hand of God at work in our midst. He has seen me through challenges and given me many blessings. Western South Dakota is now my home, and I am honored to be the bishop of a local church that has such a rich history and such good people. Thank you for your prayers and support. I look forward to the things God will do in us and through us to build up the church in this beautiful place.


+Bishop Peter

Canku Wakan