West River Catholic May 2020

Plan for Resuming Public Masses


Plan for resuming public Masses once social distancing and hygiene practices are in place

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our decision on March 17, 2020 to suspend public Masses was made after much prayer, consultation, and after having reviewed the recommendations of public health authorities. This decision was focused on preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus especially for the most vulnerable. We know this extraordinary measure has been difficult for all the faithful. We are grateful for the acts of charity and expressed understanding that we have witnessed in our midst during this time.

This makes us all the more pleased to bring you good spiritual news in this Easter season. Today, we write to share that we have initiated a process that will lead to Masses being prayed publicly in the Dioceses of Sioux Falls and Rapid City. What is most important for you to know at this time is that the decision on when parishioners may resume their participation in Holy Mass in their parish church and their reception of Holy Communion will be made by your pastor, in consultation with guidelines that we will be providing them at the diocesan level.

Determining the date when public Masses will begin in each parish will include developing a plan for implementation, setting up procedures for maintaining social distancing and proper hygiene and communicating all of this to parishioners. Public Masses will not begin before May 15.

CSS and Diocese establish COVID-19 Fund

Catholic Social Services, in collaboration with the Diocese of Rapid City and with the blessing of Diocesan Administrator Father Michel Mulloy, announces the establishment of a COVID-19 response fund for western South Dakota families. CSS will allocate the funds, prioritizing applications from households anywhere in western South Dakota that meet one or more of the following conditions:

  1. A household member who has a positive test for COVID-19, which has adversely impacted the family’s income.
  2. Temporarily lost employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has adversely impacted the family’s income.
  3. Health care providers in the family whose employment has resulted in financial hardships for the family.
  4. Lost income due to a lack of childcare.
  5. Members with pre-existing medical conditions that has caused them to self-quarantine, resulting in financial hardship for the family.

At this point, CSS has limited financial resources to assist with this effort and the amount of assistance per household will depend on available funding and the number of applicants. To apply for assistance, please visit the Catholic Social Services website at cssrapidcity.com to access the application form, or call CSS at 605-348-6086 for information.

Anyone interested in contributing to these efforts, please send donations to:
529 Kansas City St Ste 100
Rapid City, SD 57701
or go to cssrapidcity.com/relief webpage and click on the ‘donate here’ button.

Fr. Mulloy encourages all Catholics in western South Dakota to pray for all those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and to continue to support their local parishes that depend on financial contributions normally collected during Sunday Mass.

CLick here for a printable PDF

Suspension of all public Masses due to the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic

Click here to read Father Mulloy’s video address (PDF download)


Suspension of all public Masses due to the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic

March 17, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, relying on data that shows the real progression of the COVID-19 virus, has now updated its recommendation to limit gatherings to ten people.  The recommendation limits the potential for transmission of the virus.  Ultimately, the recommendation is rooted in serving the common good, including those most vulnerable to the virus and its devastating effects on the body.

Mindful of our own call as Catholics to seek the common good, we have directed that all daily Masses and all Sunday Masses prayed in parishes are suspended until further notice.  This suspension takes effect on March 18, 2020 and includes all gatherings for social and educational purposes in Catholic facilities. It will remain in effect until further notice.  This extraordinary measure has been directed after prayerfully asking God for His assistance in guiding His Church, in collaboration with the diocesan consultors and careful study of information gathered by government officials and recommendations given by medical professionals.  We believe it is the prudent decision in keeping with the directives of many bishops throughout the United States who have made this prudential decision.

This decision is one of the most exceptional pastoral decisions we have faced and its impact on the Catholic faithful of South Dakota weighs heavily on our hearts.  We will continue to monitor the situation with the intention of restoring the full access to the Sacraments and public prayer within our communities as soon as it becomes appropriate to do so.  Projecting a timeline has been difficult to do accurately in the wake of this pandemic.  So, we ask for your patience and flexibility when further adjustments become necessary.  

While no decision has been made on Holy Week liturgies at this time, we acknowledge that current recommendations for limiting the size of gatherings extend beyond April 5-12, 2020.  Therefore, it is probable the suspension announced today will also impact these liturgies prayed during the most solemn moments in our liturgical calendar.  Mechanisms for live streaming these liturgies are already in place.

Until then, some practical ramifications of the suspension of public Masses and public events will be shared with the priests and people of our two dioceses in a separate memorandum. This will be available later today or tomorrow. 

Most especially during these trying times, let us continue to remember that the Sabbath is God’s command, not His Church’s.  We can unite ourselves to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ through our participation in televised Masses which are readily available.  In addition we are urged to make “Spiritual Communions” while joining in radio, television, or online broadcasts of the Sunday Mass.  Again, more information about these opportunities as well as additional resources for sustaining our spiritual lives during this extraordinary fast from the regular reception of the Sacraments will be made available through the memorandum each of our dioceses will issue. 

We continue to urge all Catholics to offer additional prayer during this pandemic.  We would ask all Catholics to pray for the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church and St. Joseph, Protector of the Church.  Let us continue to pray for the sick and dying, for those caring for them and for those working to minimize the impact of COVID-19.  Let us pray for our own protection and care, for those who fear illness or death without knowing the Lord’s loving care.

Most Reverend Donald E. DeGrood  
Bishop of Sioux Falls                                      

Very Reverend Michel Mulloy 
Diocesan Administrator                                 
Diocese of Rapid City                           


Click here for a full PDF of the press release

Father Hofer to serve as Chaplain to the South Dakota National Guard

Warrant Officer Lonny Hofer, retired National Guard, swears in his son Father Adam Hofer, while First Lieutenant Pat Moran holds the microphone during the ceremony. (Photo Courtesy Brenda Schneller) Visit our Facebook page to see the full video of the swearing in: www.facebook.com/DioceseofRapidCity.

Father Adam Hofer, Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City was sworn in as a First Lieutenant in the South Dakota Army National Guard in November. An informal celebration was held at the parish December 8 to celebrate the occasion.

“My decision to become a chaplain in the National Guard was influenced by the serious need for chaplains in general and for Catholic priests in particular to serve as chaplains in the National Guard,” he explained in a statement to the West River Catholic. “About 24 percent of the soldiers in the South Dakota National Guard are Catholic. Also, my dad served a long career in the National Guard and I have a significant appreciation for his service and example, as well as for the chaplains and their services and support provided throughout my dad’s career. As a priest, I believe that I can support our men and women in uniform who sacrifice for the freedom that we enjoy as Americans. My service is also founded in permission to serve from the Office of the Bishop.”

His service will entail attending the “drill weekend” with the Joint Force Headquarters unit each month as well as for two weeks during the summer. He will also attend a Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Jackson, S.C., to learn military protocol and chaplain specific training to effectively serve the soldiers.

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

Pastoral Center plans take shape


May 15, Chancery employees Mark Hazel, facilities director; and Deacon Greg Sass, Director of the Permanent Diaconate and Lay Ministry Formation; review the preliminary plans for remodeling the former credit union. (WRC photo)

At the end of March, Bishop Robert Gruss purchased the building vacated by a local credit union. (WRC photo)

Susan Safford, Michael Wilhelmi, Dottie Borowski, Tammi Williams and Dionne Eastmo check out the future copy/server spaces. (WRC photo)

Living the Mission 
By Fr. Michel Mulloy, Vicar General

In January the West River Catholic broke a story about the new diocesan pastoral center. The Diocese of Rapid City purchased the former Black Hills Federal Credit Union building on the east end of Main Street in March. Although the original plans, developed before the Living the Mission Campaign started in the diocese, called for a new Pastoral Center to be built on the campus of Terra Sancta, Bishop Robert Gruss did not stop looking for a suitable facility that would house the chancery staff. The credit union building has adequate space.

The credit union has moved to their new location. The bishop, vicar general, Chancellor Margaret Simonson and the Chief

Finance Officer Rick Soulek have been meeting with ARC International, an architecture firm. The diocese also hired Rangel Construction to manage the renovation. This group is working on the plans for remodeling this newly acquired facility so that it will best accommodate the chancery staff. The first draft of the renovation plan was shared with the full chancery staff to receive their input. Once the design is complete, the remodeling will begin. The projected date for the construction to commence is mid-August.

The building has two floors and a half basement. The basement  will  be  used  primarily for housing the archives of the diocese. These are all the records, both historical and financial, dioceses are required to keep.

The first and second floors will have enough offices for the chancery staff, currently about 40 employees, as well as a few extra offices for possible expansion of one department or another. Most of these offices are already in place. A section of the second floor that was previously filled with moveable cubicles will be converted to permanent offices.

The second floor will also have a small chapel. There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, a place to gather for Mass and prayer is a strong reminder to the chancery staff that our work is grounded in our diocesan mission to attract and form disciples of Jesus who want to live and proclaim the Gospel. In addition, the chapel will be used for daily Mass and times of prayer for the staff.

To accommodate meetings and committee work, the new pastoral center will have conferences and meeting rooms. Some of these already exist and some will be added during the remodeling process.

The design is simple and functional. This will be the place from which the bishop and his staff reach out in service to the diocese, that is, to all of us. Plans include ways to reflect the whole diocese in the artwork of the new Pastoral Center.

As you think about and reflect on your contribution to the Living the Mission Campaign, realize that the bishop and his staff are working to use the gifts that have been offered well. The diocese needs a new pastoral center and the purchase of this credit union facility will allow us to realize that aspect of the case elements in the campaign in a cost-effective way.