Bishop Muhich January 2021

Let us pray hard and work hard for a better 2021
As I write this column for our diocesan paper I am quarantined at home with COVID. I started having symptoms New Year’s Day and tested positive a couple days later. So, I am living proof that we aren’t done with the Coronavirus yet. I’m thankful that my symptoms have been pretty moderate but can attest that this virus is not to be taken lightly. My experience of COVID has helped me have a deeper compassion for those who have struggled with this illness these past months and those who still fear coming down with it. With vaccines now becoming available, may we soon be able to put this pandemic in the rearview mirror. Speaking of vaccines, please take a look at the joint statement Bishop DeGrood and I put out addressing moral concerns about the development and testing of the two vaccines now available in the United States. It is available on our diocesan website www.rapidcitydiocese.org/covid-19-vaccines/.

Unfortunately, the New Year has also featured continuing civil unrest in our nation. As followers of Jesus Christ and good Catholics we believe in the importance of the common good and should always treat others with respect — even those we have serious disagreements with. After all, the Lord himself teaches us to love our enemies. Let us pray and work hard for our communities, state and nation and not be duped by the Evil One’s temptations to violence and division. Let us watch our tongues and speech and remember another important principle of our Catholic faith: “in all things charity.”

This month also marks another sad anniversary of Roe v.Wade. In a culture that seems to value human life less and less, you and I are called to stand for the sacred dignity of every human person beginning from conception until natural death. The unborn have no way to defend themselves, so the Lord calls on you and me to defend them. After so many years of justifying the taking of unborn human life are we surprised that we devalue human life at its other stages more and more?

Featured in this issue of the West River Catholic is the annual financial report for our diocese. Our diocese has had a challenging year for a number of reasons: the wait for a new bishop, the Coronavirus, and the economic ups and downs of our agricultural and natural resource economy, to name just a few. I am grateful for everything all the members of our West River Catholic community did to keep our important ministries going during challenging times. Our people’s spiritual, physical, emotional, and pastoral needs do not go down in challenging times — just the opposite — and I am grateful for your support of our programs and ministries.

My prayers for many blessings in this new year for you and your families and friends.

 +Bishop Peter M. Muhich 
Diocese of Rapid City

Bishop Muhich December 2020

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy!”
These words of the angel to the shepherds of Bethlehem keeping watch over their flocks are proclaimed every Christmas Eve by the church. They are words of comfort, not only to those 1st century shepherds, but also to us, the church in western South Dakota, as we celebrate another Christmas in challenging times. It is appropriate that the Good News of Christ’s birth was first announced in the darkness of night to humble shepherds. Jesus did not enter the world in the splendor of a palace in the midst of worldly comforts. Though he was rich he made himself poor. He descended from heaven to confront the darkness of our world and defeat it in his saving passion and death. A
s we celebrate his birth this year in the midst of a pandemic and in the midst of all the problems we see in the world and even in the church, I invite you to turn to Jesus Christ and center your life on him. He is the only one who can give us real hope in the midst of our struggles. The fallen world often lets us down, but the Lord never will. Put your trust in him. He is the light that entered the darkness of our world on that first Christmas to defeat the powers of sin and death. There is nothing we face this Christmas that the Lord Jesus did not take unto himself on the cross. He knows our fears and our disappointments and our sins. He was born to save us from them.
My prayer for you and those you love this Christmas is that you open your hearts to Him. He is the answer to our broken world. This day in David’s city a savior has been born for you — Jesus Christ our Lord.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Wanikiya Tonpi Wowiyuskin nahan Omaka Teca Oiyokipi! 
Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo! 
+Bishop Peter M. Muhich
Diocese of Rapid City

 

Bishop Muhich November 2020

To everything there is a season… 
The month of November coming as it does at the end of the liturgical year is filled with Scripture passages that speak of the “4 Last Things”: death, judgement, heaven, and hell. As the winter months stretch before us we see in the natural world (in the Northern hemisphere) a dying taking place. Plants go into dormancy, many animals and reptiles hibernate, and the greens of spring and summer fade into browns and grays. What happens in nature forms an echo of the deeper spiritual realities marked in the church’s liturgy. The church began this month with the great Solemnity of All Saints, reminding us of our destiny if we cooperate with God’s grace. The next day we marked the Commemoration of All Souls, remembering to lift up our deceased brothers and sisters in prayer as they are prepared to see God face to face as they pass through purgatory. Please join me in praying for those who died this past year in our diocese and its parishes. May they rest in peace. November is also the month when our Annual Diocesan Appeal takes place. Please be as generous as you can. Our ministries across the diocese rely heavily on your support of the annual appeal.
Many thanks,
+Bishop Peter M. Muhich
Diocese of Rapid City

Bishop Muhich October 2020

Help us rise above our weaknesses
Greetings to all the members of our beautiful diocese. I have continued to visit parishes across the diocese this past month and have enjoyed meeting a number of you and confirming a number of our youth. I am struck by the goodness of our people and how welcoming you have been to me. Thank you for that.
This month of October began with the Bishop’s Pheasant Hunt for Vocations at St. Hubert’s Hideaway in the southeastern part of the diocese. It was good to welcome Bishop Robert Gruss back for the hunt and to spend the day in that beautiful place.
October is a month when we focus our attention on two important realities: the sanctity of every human life from conception until natural death and Our Blessed Mother under her title “Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.” Please join me in praying for a greater awareness in our society of the sacred gift of human life. If our nation could embrace this important truth I believe it would cut through the anger and divisions we so often see these days and allow us to come out of our polarized positions and encounter each other as the gifts from God that we truly are — no matter how flawed.
Please join me in asking Our Lady’s intercession for our country as we approach the elections next month. Please pray the rosary and ask her to help us to rise above our human weaknesses and work for the protection of human life and the common good. God bless you.
+ Bishop Peter M. Muhich
Diocese of Rapid City

Bishop Muhich September 2020

(Editor’s note: This is the annual vocation issue for the West River Catholic. Bishop Peter M. Muhich was interviewed by Editor Laurie Hallstrom on his personal vocation.)

WRC: Fr. Mark McCormick, the diocesan vocations director, keeps reminding us that vocations begin in the home. How does that resonate with you?
Bishop Muhich: My vocation began in the home. I grew up in an active Catholic family, where going to church and doing things in the parish were just a normal part of daily life. Praying before and after meals, praying at bedtime, those were regular things. My parents created an openness in their children’s lives to have a relationship with the Lord.Without that, I’m not sure you could ever discover a vocation. My parents never pushed religious vocations, but they honored priests and religious and they knew that they were important. Like every Catholic boy I think I was fascinated by what the priest was doing at the altar — my parents remember that better than I do.

WRC: When did Jesus get you thinking about a call to holy orders?
 Bishop Muhich: It was in ninth grade when I started thinking about that more. We were part of a (charismatic) prayer group at that time and it started to occur to me that maybe God was calling me. I’m not a part of a prayer group today, but I think it opened up a more personal level of prayer. It wasn’t a dramatic thing, it wasn’t a big change in my life, it was a thought — maybe I should be a priest?

WRC: What did you like about going to seminary?
Bishop Muhich: I really loved studying theology, church history, and scripture. We had great priests who were professors (at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn.) I always enjoyed getting to know them and having good deep conversations with them and seeing the way they were living their priesthood.

WRC: What attracted you to studying in Belgium?
Bishop Muhich: The Catholic University of Leuven is the oldest Catholic university in the world with a continuous history. There were ones founded before Leuven but they were shut down during the French revolution or some other period of history. It’s been there since 1425 and I thought it would be really cool to study there. We were between bishops at the time I graduated from St. Thomas, so, I lobbied and lobbied and lobbied and wore the vocation director down and the diocese finally agreed to send me to Leuven. I was very persistent.

WRC: What did you enjoy about being a parish priest?
Bishop Muhich: I really enjoyed being a parish priest and being with people at all stages of life. You see the whole trajectory of a person’s spiritual life and their  earthly pilgrimage.

WRC: Do you have any words of advice for a young person considering seminary or religious life?
Bishop Muhich: Keep asking God to show you the way, there is no replacement for allowing God to be in the driver’s seat with that. Don’t be surprised if it takes some unexpected turns. That happens, because God is preparing you in the perfect way for whatever he wants you do. Enjoy the adventure, continue to ask God to be the Lord of your life.

WRC: What do you want people to know about you as you go out into the parishes?
Bishop Muhich: I am a parish priest, that is my background, parish life is something very familiar to me. I’m just excited to see what God is doing here. The first year for a new bishop is a lot of watching, listening and learning.

WRC: COVID-19 has made it an odd year to begin your ministry here. Do you think things will get back to ‘normal’?
Bishop Muhich: We will need to pay special attention to bringing people back to the practice of their faith after all these unusual circumstances. Be praying and thinking of ways we can do that — forming parish committees for simply calling our parishioners and saying “hey we know you probably haven’t been able to come to church, we want to make contact with you and invite you to come back when it’s safe to come back.” I think we are going to have to do a lot of that. Committee members could even visit and say, “now we have these things going on in church and we want to tell you about them.” We are moving through very unusual history; we haven’t had a pandemic in a hundred years, and we live in a time when there are so many things competing for our attention. We should not be surprised it’s going to take work to invite people back.

WRC: What is happening in your ministry now?
Bishop Muhich: I am enjoying visiting, I went to churches in five different parish clusters, last weekend. That was a big swing through the prairie — Faith and Eagle Butte, Timber Lake, Trail City, Isabel, Lemmon, and Buffalo.

WRC: How do you want to be addressed?
Bishop Muhich: People just don’t know what to do with the “h” in the middle of my name; it stymies them. So, Bishop Peter is fine in normal conversation.

Bishop Muhich August 2020

Looking forward to upcoming visits
During the month of August, I am enjoying my first visits to the parishes that make up our diocese. Coming from a northern forest and lakes region it has been fascinating for me to take in the beauty of the prairie with its wide open spaces and the rugged heights of the Black Hills. My encounters with our clergy and people have been warm and welcoming and I sense that the faith is strong in our local church. I look forward to visiting all the regions of the diocese and experiencing local community and parish life in the weeks ahead. Please know that I offer prayers daily and Masses weekly for all of you and your intentions. May God continue to open our hearts and minds to his saving will and may Our Blessed Mother continue to wrap us in her mantle of love and protection.
+Bishop Peter M. Muhich
Diocese of Rapid City

Bishop Muhich July 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am so grateful to God for the call to become the 9th Bishop of Rapid City. What a beautiful place this is and what a warm welcome I have received from you! Of course, this is all new to me so I have much to learn from you about what God has been doing in this local church. I promise to keep you in my daily prayers and ask that you do the same for me. If our prayers are sincere God will make our lives pleasing and fruitful in building up his kingdom.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
+Bishop Peter M. Muhich
Diocese of Rapid City

Bishop Peter Muhich