Generations have risen to call his name Blessed — The Fruits of Fr. Columban

Fr. Columban Bregenzer, OSB

Preserving a Catholic Community By Kathy Cordes, Diocesan Archivist

Interview with the Very Reverend Fr. Columban Bregenzer, OSB, VG, on August 12, 1941, titled Easter Sick Call.  Some license was taken to correct grammar, terminology and it includes two interviews.  In his own words, “the following story illustrates the difficulties under which the early missionaries were forced to labor.” 

After conducting the strenuous Easter Holy Week services at St. Martin Convent I was called in the later afternoon of Holy Saturday, to accompany the doctor to a distant ranch on a sick call.  We traveled in the usual conveyance of that time, a spring wagon with a horse. 

It was close to midnight by the time I had completed the religious rites and I desired to return immediately. I knew that penitents would be waiting for me Easter morning, but the fatigue of the horse and condition of the roads, for it had begun to rain, made my return impossible until morning.

The sick calls in those days were awful working conditions. When the people came to get the doctor, I, Father Columban (as I wish to be called), went out with him. When it snowed, once, I got so lost so I let the reins loose and the horse went home. Sometimes, a team was hired at the livery stable for me.

In 1902, with Bishop Stariha as first prelate, there were five priests, including myself to take care of the 41,000 square miles. The country was full of cattle men who came in once or twice a year to get supplies and then went to holy Mass and communion — those days the church was packed! 

The best that the family could offer me for my lodging was the garret and a sack of straw. The scurrying of the mice over my body was not conducive to sleep. As early as possible I was on the road and reached Sturgis about eight o’clock in the morning. 

The sisters had been waiting for two hours for holy Communion; the soldiers from nearby Fort Meade crowded the church waiting for a chance to make their Easter duty. After giving holy Communion to the sisters and hearing the confessions of the soldiers it was time for the ten o’clock high Mass. After Solemn Vespers in the afternoon I could finally seek much needed repose. 

I was not the first Benedictine in the Hills. Father Joachim came here in 1892. My Abbot told me that he wouldn’t leave me here longer than holy week. He also did not tell me about the size of the field, or about traveling to Lemmon and Faith. I came out to a little church. Yet, I said “you ought to have a holy man for this work.” Little did I know, that weeklong assignment would turn into 39 years!

Fr. Columban was hailed for his charity, his sense of justice, and his great desire for unity. His efforts as a priest of God and the spiritual guidance he gave his parishioners was an inspiration to the entire community and the surrounding settlements.

On September 10, 1988, Father was entered into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. This award was posthumously accepted by Sr. Marmion Howe.

The history of our own diocese remains fruitful and continues to bear fruit as the Gospel of St. John commands, “your fruit shall remain” (Jn 15:16-19).

 

Exciting tidbits from the diocesan archives …

This 99 year old monstrance from St. Katherine Drexel was used at the Office of Faith Formation’s Refuel Conference, Jan. 17-18. It is carried by
Fr. Brian Christensen assisted by Deacon Jim Scherr. The monstrance was donated to St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Reservation by St. Katherine in 1921 when the church was rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire. St. Francis Mission is one of the two missions she first founded.

Preserving a Catholic Community
By Kathy Cordes, Diocesan Archivist

As the story goes and my research continues, around 1941 there was an Alabaster Store in Rapid City? Just what is an alabaster store? Sound familiar, anyone? Calling all history buffs, I would love to hear your stories!

As we begin to plan our move, the archives along with each department in the Chancery, is working with record retention policies adhering to state and federal laws along with Canon (church) laws. Today, most records are not only in paper form but digital media. Meta data and digital footprints are extremely important today to preserve our history. Preserving these different types of media remains problematic and we must also preserve the equipment with which to view electronic records and have them remain operational for future use.  

Boxes, large and small, photographs and film slides, media, magazines and even a medical stethoscope have made their way into my office this last month. It is exciting to plan, according to archival practices, what can be disseminated, what must be stored and provenance to keep. Which begs the question — where in the world did this stethoscope come from? I think a visit to the Sisters of St. Martins is in order to see what stories they can tell me.

Time Capsules are historical monuments to capture memories. With the inception of a new pastoral center for western South Dakota, a small time capsule will be put together by staff. Beginning with Bishop Gruss to Fr. Michel Mulloy what better way to have our next generation remember our mission, our hospitality and the Year of the Eucharist. A small cedar box was chosen which was handmade by Fr. D. Craig Cower and will be on display in the archives of the new Pastoral Center.

New Black Elk prayer cards are on their way. The prayer for Nicholas Black Elk has been updated.The picture of him praying with his daughter Lucy has been sharpened on the Prayer for Canonization card. Prayers in English, Spanish and German versions are being made. Deacon Ben Black Bear is translating a Lakota version. 

Two museums in our own backyard will be featured this summer in issues of the West River Catholic. Fr. Jacob Boddicker, SJ will be a guest columnist for the “Curia Corner.” He will feature the Beuchel Memorial Lakota Museum on the Rosebud Reservation. This museum recently loaned the Refuel conference the monstrance of St. Katherine Drexel.

The Heritage Museum of the Holy Rosary Mission in Pine Ridge, South Dakota is the other museum. Mary Maxon, director, will be the guest columnist and will feature this museum. Both museums have collected many Lakota artifacts from their respective reservations and possess a wealth of information for our future generations.  Stay tuned for these exciting profiles.

Our diocesan mission statement shows us how to live, to proclaim the mission of Jesus Christ and to preserve our diocesan and church history for future generations. These records of enduring value, whether historical or intrinsic, enable us to maintain the rich and true history of our diocese. For all the blessings that God has provided for us, the information and artifacts that come the way of the archives are truly treasures.

Clear vision for the diocesan archives

 

Preserving a Catholic Community By Kathy Cordes, Diocesan Archivist

(Writer’s note: These firsts do not encompass the of history of the five Indian Reservations in the Diocese of Rapid City.)

History will be made in 2020 with the first Catholic Pastoral Center in our diocese. Following are lists of the firsts we have recorded. Unfortunately, the claims for these firsts are not well documented and many dates contradict one another. These make for interesting history discussions. We would love for someone to say — “hey, wait a minute our marriage was the first recorded in …” and then we could record it as the diocesan’s firsts.  

From the Dakotas to New Dakota Territory to Lead City to Diocese of Lead City and finally, to the Diocese of Rapid City – The recorded first priest, diocesan or religious order; the first Mass, low or high Mass; first church (framed, wooden or structure).

The first West River Catholic issue was published in May 1973. Publisher: Bishop Harold J. Dimmerling, Editor: Fr. William J. O’Connell. The diocesan cathedral was dedicated on May 7, 1963. Ten years later to the day the first issue was published. It was “to serve as reminder to everyone that the Blessed Virgin plays an important part in our spiritual life.”

The first Mass in Rapid City was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1883 by Rapid City’s first resident pastor, Rev. Alfred Vigeant in the first church of any denomination to be built in the new town. St. Mary Catholic Church (framed) was constructed beginning in 1881. -Excerpt from Rapid City in Retrospect, published 1982.  

The first resident Jesuit Catholic priest in 1876 was Father Bernard Mackin, SJ. He was reportedly the first priest buried in St. Ambrose Cemetery. Interestingly enough, the first cemetery – St. Ambrose, the Catholic section (also called Mount Moriah) was established in Deadwood in the early 1880s. -St. Ambrose Parish 100th Anniversary booklet 1877-1977.

St. Ambrose was the first Catholic church in our diocese. Fr. John Lonergan presided at the first public low Mass in Deadwood on May 20, 1877. -The Black Hills Daily Times, Dakota Territory, 1877.

The first Mass reportedly was said in Kendall, Dakota Territory, in 1683 by a French missionary priest. Among the fur traders, he paused to say Mass for any group he came across. -Typewritten statement, author unknown. 

The first Spanish speaking missionary, Rev. Pedro Morante, was in charge of the Spanish mission people in the Black Hills. 

The first grammar school was named St. Martin Academy in honor of Bishop Martin Marty.

The first hospital, St. Edward Hospital was opened 1878 in Deadwood and staffed by Sisters of the Holy Cross. 

“In order to make this (these firsts) as interesting as possible I would appreciate any news clippings, photos, written historical remembrances that parishioners might have which would help tell the history of our diocese.” Fr. Eugene Szalay, May 1973, wrote in the first column “Heritage In the Faith” published in first West River Catholic newspaper. 

The well-known mantra of all archivists as reiterated in Fr. Szalay’s message above, of yesteryear and for the future, we must preserve and report history and send it to the archives! 

St. Joseph School in Gregory formed a rhythm band which made its first public appearing in Gregory May 2, 1929. — Dedication booklet, 1969 St. Joseph Parish

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!

Curia Corner — Servant of God Nicholas Black Elk, Pray for Us

A look inside the shrine to Nicholas Black Elk that Red Cloud students created. It is on a little patch of land outside of the school in Pine Ridge. (Photo courtesy Red Cloud Indian School)

 

Preserving a Catholic Community by Kathy Cordes, Diocesan Archivist

Diocesan update on canonization cause

“We are basically waiting for the thumbs-up from the Holy Father, Pope Francis!” says Fr. Joe Daoust, SJ. “I am hopeful that Nicholas Black Elk is declared Venerable soon!” 

Now that the final reporting from our diocese was sent to Rome in June of this year, in hopes of continuing the canonization cause, the Black Elk working group has begun the task of promoting and furthering the cause of sainthood.

Members of that group are Fr. Luis Escalante, procurator for the cause; Fr. Michel Mulloy, diocesan administrator; Vice -Postulators Fr. Joe Daoust, SJ, Bill White, Veronica Valandra and myself; Mark Thiel, Marquette University; Fr. Andre Benso, Italy; Joyce Tibbits; and Black Elk family descendants Myron Pourier, Penny Wolters, and Mitch Desera. We all are dedicated to promoting this cause, awaiting miracles to flow forth, and to see Black Elk become the first male Native American canonized saint in the U.S.

Many people are still learning the levels of deep respect that Native Americans have for family values.

Black Elk’s headstone reads, Chief Black Elk 1858-1950. At one of our group meetings, it was

explained that the word chief has other meanings to the Lakota. Although never technically a chief — someone who is a leader in the military, designated by rank, etc. — Ben Black Elk, Nicholas’ son, and his family bestowed the honor of chief to Nicholas because he was a humble Lakota and because of people’s devotion to him.

Black Elk is alive and well across the country, in South Dakota, at Red Cloud Indian School, and on the Pine Ridge Reservation. We must continue to bring that education and excitement to the world around us. The children at Red Cloud have built a shrine/grotto to Black Elk on a little patch of land outside of the school in Pine Ridge. They also have several school activities planned. Bill White is developing a talk for school children. 

John Corry, a layperson from St. Katherine Drexel Parish in Beaver Damn, Wis., promotes Nicholas Black Elk at every Mass he can. “I have a spiritual affinity, for some reason to Nicholas Black Elk,” he says. “I believe in the communion of saints, so I always add Nicholas and ask him to pray for me.” He goes on to say that he prays for Black Elk intentions for several others who are having health challenges. “Miracles happen everywhere, why not here in Wisconsin?” he said.

How can you help further the cause for Canonization of Nicholas Black Elk?

1) Pray. Through your prayers for the successful carrying out of this canonization process and by praying to him for his help in any distress so that all can walk the good red road toward God.

2) Evangelize. Spread the devotion to him as an exemplar of Native American

holiness, bringing the gifts of the Holy Spirit in indigenous spirituality forward in the church. 

3) Donate. You can help the Nicholas Black Elk Fund in the diocese of Rapid City which was established to help cover the costs of carrying this process forward at www.rapidcitydiocese.org under the “Make a Gift” tab. Please designate your gift to Nicholas 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).

What does a Vice-Postulator do?

Once Nicholas Black Elk is declared venerable the vice-postulators will represent the Postulator, Father Luis Escalante, in carrying out any investigation and anything necessary to further the cause of Nicholas Black Elk. This includes talking a closer look at miracles and items attributed to Black Elk. Vice-postulators can include people from the diocese and other interested parties from across the U.S.

 

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! 

Curia Corner — Behind the scenes of the closing of the diocesan phase of Nicholas Black Elk

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.

The final report, from the Diocese of Rapid City, supporting the canonization of Nicholas Black Elk, Servant of God, was signed and sealed with wax before it went to Rome. (Courtesy photo)

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).

Curia Corner — Match Game Edition

When it was announced that Bishop Robert Gruss was being moved to the Diocese of Saginaw, the Diocesan Archives received many questions regarding the history of the bishop’s office. The diocese has had eight bishops, an Vicar Apostolic of the Dakotas and a Coadjutor Bishop. Each of them developed their own crest and motto. Can you name which bishop goes with which crest? Need help? Here’s a list of bishops:

Bishop Martin Marty
Bishop John Stariha
Bishop Joseph Busch
Bishop William McCarty
Bishop Leo Dworschak
Bishop John Lawler
Bishop Harold Dimmerling
Bishop Charles Chaput
Bishop Blase Cupich
Bishop Robert Gruss

Notice there are eight crests and 10 bishops on this list. We don’t have a record the crests for two bishops. Answers are below. Good luck.

Answers: 1) Bishop Harold Dimmerling, fifth bishop, 1969-1987; 2) Bishop Robert Gruss, eighth bishop, 2011-2019; 3) Bishop John Lawler, third bishop, 1916-1948; 4) Bishop Blase Cupich, seventh bishop, 1998-2010; 5) Bishop Charles Chaput, sixth bishop, 1988-1997; 6) Coadjutor Bishop Leo Dworschak, 1946-1947; 7) Vicar Apostolic of the Dakotas Bishop Martin Marty, 1879-1895; 8) Bishop William McCarty, sixth bishop.

Curia Corner — Chancery staff says goodbye

A memory book has become the chancery tradition to say farewell to bishops — then and now:

from a homemade scrapbook … to a digital photo book,

The medium may change over the years, but the sentiment does not.

Farewell Bishop Gruss. Be assured of our prayers as you lead the Diocese of Saginaw.

Curia Corner — ‘Up the Downhill Side’ with Ruby Lee

Note: Ruby M. Lee was a resident of Rapid City since 1941, a member of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and court St. Rita of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas. She appeared as a columnist for the West River Catholic from 1975-1982. A smattering of her writings from “Up the Downhill Side,” follows, and once again, she appears as a guest columnist, posthumously, for the Curia Corner. I can hear my own grandmother’s voice in Ruby Lee!

Sacrifice!
I believe in it, don’t you? What can I find to sacrifice? I would gain no glory by giving away those things I’ve grown tired of, even if it helps the church. We can give the church money. That dirty old money everyone says is laden with germs of all kinds.
Don’t wash it first before putting it in your billfold. Let another person risk infection by handling it. They won’t’ mind. We can get rid of the dirty old stuff by dropping it in the collection plate, saving enough to pay our bills, naturally. With that germy money we can send along a prayer that those who benefit will be blessed by our Lord. (August 1976)

Ruby Lee’s headshot from her
column “Up the Downhill Side”
(File photo

Where did May go?
The month of May didn’t register on my consciousness nor did any of the summer months and I may have missed them all. Now, I shall try and make them up to myself. I was taught about the virgin birth and Mary, the mother and I believed. But it didn’t make much of an impression until the month of May for that is when my first-born son appeared. I was also a mother! Mary was a mother! We had something in common and I could tell her of my joy! She listened and told me of her joy at the birth of her son. Fanciful! Somewhat. I came to love the mother of my Lord in a way as she ought to be loved by all peoples. Once, now with two sons, they both caught whooping cough. I was in agony at their suffering. I ran to our Blessed Mother. “Dear Mother of God,” I cried, “let me offer you my son in every way but please give me his life.” They have many years of credit now; they grew well and strong. In these later years the thought of my blessing has closed around me, thrusting out all thoughts of anger, selfishness, pride and envy.

Our Lady of Joy taught me this: from a short lifetime of many sad happenings, she saw the ultimate the awful death of her son. At the end she regained the presence of her Son again.

What a life after which to pattern our own lives! Without saying a word aloud, we will make the presence of a prayerful heart felt to others. (July 1978)

Love one another — touch hands
I was introduced to the pious custom of wearing a badge of the Sacred Heart early in my Catholic life. I wore the badge but couldn’t bear to look at it. I asked a good priest the cause of my turning away. He said, “Say your prayers to the Sacred Heart. Prayer is always helpful,” he added. “The picture and badge you wear calls to mind that the Sacred Heart of Jesus is burning with the love for all of us.”
A heart burning forever for me and all creation! What a beautiful thought. Love. That was the key word I had wanted to hear but didn’t know how to ask! … I loved my family, but it was all so different from the love emanating from the burning heart of Christ. I began to love in a greater way. I must call it supernatural love for this kind of love demands no love in return.

Touch hands — this is one of the most beautiful customs coming from Vatican II. Touch hands with a gentle clasp, a gentle touching, a smile, the showing of love is essential. We greet our own family and our friends with a happy shout. Most of us Catholic have put away the Catholic things in our homes which were visual thoughts of love. We no longer greet friends as the last generation did with “May God care for you and HIS love be with you.” Our actions must portray our love. Love is necessary in everything we do. Show it. TOUCH HANDS! (May 1978)