The Diocesan Priority Plan — February 2017

Foundational Ministry: Social Services & Outreach

GOAL: Establish a task force to assess the needs of the Hispanic community and make recommendations to the Bishop by January 1, 2017.
While the predominant non-European ethnic group in our diocese is Lakota, the Diocese of Rapid City also includes a Hispanic/Latino Community that comprises about 5-10 percent of our Catholics. Many of these Spanish speaking parishioners have some English language capability but do not speak or read English well enough to fully participate in programs such as Veritatis Splendor Institute, Pastoral Ministry Days or other diocesan programs. In addition, very few others in western South Dakota speak enough Spanish to help facilitate better communications with Spanish-speaking Catholics.

The diocese has no office for Hispanic ministry. Father Janusz Korban serves as a chaplain for the Spanish Masses in Hill City and at Blessed Sacrament in Rapid City. Father Korban is originally from Poland. He received four months of Spanish language training in Mexico prior to taking on this ministry.

As a first step in establishing a Hispanic Ministry Task Force, Bishop Robert Gruss met with a group of interested individuals on December, 13, 2016. The group included Fr. Janusz Korban, Barbara Linares, Maria Munoz, Mary Ireland, Dr. Romeo Vivit and Jaime Munoz. They discussed the goal for Hispanic Ministry in the diocese and the possibility of bringing in a team to help start a program called V Encuentro*, which would provide education and support for local Catholics in Hispanic ministry. Bishop Gruss tasked the group with assessing the needs of the Hispanic Catholics in our diocese and creating a plan to implement V Encuentro in the Diocese of Rapid City.

Father Korban had already put together a group to look at ways to form and strengthen Hispanic leaders in our diocese through V Encuentro. The V Encuentro Committee met on January 29 to begin work on the needs assessment. M. Delores Munoz, Mary Ireland, Chava Correa and Cristina Cruz have joined several committee members working on this project. In addition to the experiences and familiarity that each member brings to this discussion, they decided to survey the Hispanics/ Latinos about the needs to make sure that everyone has a chance to be part of the process.

The survey is available in both Spanish and English, in paper form and online. The survey will be available through March 5. Online surveys can be found at: (Spanish language) or (English language) The committee will review the survey data and use it to prepare a prioritized list of needs along with suggestions and comments about how those needs might best be served. They will then present these findings and recommendations to Bishop Gruss by April 1.

* V Encuentro is an organization dedicated to supporting and educating leaders for Hispanic/Latino Catholics. It began under the USCCB to help bishops and communities work together in this ministry. In the context of this dialogue among the bishops and the community, we live a spirit of pastoral ministry illuminated by an ecclesiological communion and missionary vocation that seeks to reach out to those who find themselves estranged from the life and vision of the church. The main objective of the process of the Encuentro is to discern the way in which Hispanics/Latinos respond as church. Web address:

Diocesan Pastoral Priorities: Funding the Mission

GOAL: Develop a Diocesan Facility Master Plan by March 1, 2017 to include:
• Plans for a new chancery building
• Plans for the Terra Sancta campus

The Priority Plan continues to unfold. Bishop Robert Gruss is moving forward to re-envision and if necessary realign the diocesan structure. He has contracted with the Catholic Leadership Institute of Wayne, Pennsylvania, to assist him with an assessment of chancery ministries.

Bishop Gruss said, “It is important that the diocese is able to do ministry as we want it done, as well as asking, ‘Do we have the staff to do it?’’

The assessment will begin by examining information on the roles, budgets and processes of diocesan ministries. A consultant from the Catholic Leadership Institute has already begun interviewing department heads via phone regarding strengths and needs of each ministry and office.

Once this is completed, Bishop Gruss will work with diocesan leadership to review the assessment along with the Priority Plan vision, mission and goals for the diocese to develop a plan for the chancery. This is similar to the Envisioning process that the diocese and many of the parishes have been working on since the Catholic Leadership Institute first began consultation with the diocese for the Good Leaders, Good Shepherds Program in 2013.

“By the end of May we should have a clearer vision of who we are, what we want to become and how to make any necessary changes,” said Bishop Gruss.


The Diocesan Priority Plan — December 2016

By Teresa Spiess

At the First Friday Luncheon on December 2, Bishop Robert Gruss talked to participants about the Strategic Plan that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has approved for 2017-2022 (

The December West River Catholic carried a brief story about the USCCB strategic plan on page 6: “U. S. Bishops’ strategic plan similar to diocesan priority plan.” What Bishop Gruss pointed out was the many connections between this plan, which he received at the USCCB meeting on November 15, and our own Diocesan Pastoral Priority Plan, which he published in his pastoral letter,

The USCCB plan is a reminder that the church is universal. We are connected by the mission of Jesus Christ with Catholics across our country. The common themes in the USCCB Strategic Plan and the Priority Plan of the Diocese of Rapid City are a source of hope and reassurance for our local church. We are in step with the wider church in America. Following our Priority Plan will help us to move forward in union with the church, inspired by the Holy Spirit, through the love of our Lord.

Structurally, the documents are a bit different. The USCCB plan has five strategic priorities, which are filled out with emphasis areas. The plan is backed up by operational plans for 34 committees, subcommittees and departments. The operational plans contain objectives and activities for fulfilling the priorities.

Our plan has six core values, three pastoral priorities and five foundational ministries. The core values are defined and behaviors to enforce the values are described. The pastoral priorities and foundational ministries have supporting goals.

The first strategic priority for the USCCB plan is evangelization. It was described as:


Open wide the doors to Christ through missionary discipleship and personal encounter.

The USCCB emphasis areas for evangelization are:

  • Go into all communities with the message of eternal salvation to awaken all God’s people through a personal encounter and relationship with Jesus. This call to discipleship should be addressed particularly to the marginalized and those most in need of Christ’s merciful love.
  • Inspire youth and young adults to enter into the joy of a sacramental relationship with Christ.
  • Rekindle the fire of Christ’s mercy, reconciliation, and healing among those who no longer attend or have left the Church.
  • Foster personal commitment among Catholics to faithful weekly participation in the celebration of the source and summit of our faith, the holy Eucharist.

Although organized differently, these ideas sound very familiar to those who have read the Priority Plan of the Diocese of Rapid City.

Core Values of the Diocese of Rapid City

Our core value of Prayer includes a call to daily prayer to renew a personal encounter with Christ and an encouragement for everyone to actively participate in Sunday Eucharist and celebration of sacraments.

Our core value of Stewardship is described as living a life of generous hospitality, lively faith and dedicated discipleship. Evangelization through invitation is the first behavior described for this value, which really touches on all of the emphasis areas in the USCCB priority.

Solidarity is the third value in our plan, and the behaviors described for Solidarity include reaching out to others, particularly those who are marginalized.

Our values of Mercy and Charity include the mercy, reconciliation and healing that the USCCB plan points to in “Rekindle the fire.”

In our value of Family we include the call for families to educate and form youth in the faith.


Pastoral Priorities of the Diocese of Rapid City

Our Pastoral Priority of Reconciliation goes even further in the call to “invite others to experience the good news of God’s love through an encounter with Jesus Christ.”

Forming Disciples is the Pastoral Priority that specifically speaks to that underlying event which prompts Catholics to participate in the life of the church, to seek a greater understanding of the faith and to share that good news with others.

Our third Pastoral Priority, Funding the Mission, is not something that the USCCB brings up specifically in their strategic plan, however it is included in their operational plan, and reflects the practical nature of South Dakota Catholics. In order for our plans to succeed, we need to know that they will be supported by the necessary resources.


Our Foundational Ministries

The USCCB priority of Evangelization is also directly or indirectly supported by each of our Foundational Ministries: Sacraments & Worship, Education & Formation, Governance & Finance, Social Services & Outreach, and Vocations & Evangelization. The quote from Matthew 28 which is listed under Vocations & Evangelization in our plan is a reminder to us that we are an evangelical people, called to share the Gospel with others. “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to

observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

May Jesus, who has promised to be with us, bless these plans of the USCCB and of the Diocese of Rapid City, and plant his Spirit deep in us so that we may use these plans to build up his kingdom in the world around us and to live out our Sacred Mission: We, the Diocese of Rapid City, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are called to attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim and live the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.

(Note: Copies of Bishop Gruss’s Pastoral Letter, Through Him, With Him and In Him, as well as copies of the Priority Plan for the Diocese of Rapid City are available at parish and diocesan offices.)



The Diocesan Priority Plan — Further Developments

By Teresa Spiess

December is a time to reflect on what has happened and to look with eyes of hope on what is yet to come.

The people of our diocese have been talking about Bishop Robert Gruss’s pastoral letter, “Through Him, With Him and In Him,” in study groups and adult formation sessions, hearing our priests speak about the priority plan in their homilies and praying for the work of the priority plan in shaping the future of the Church in our area — nudging us, perhaps, to get off our couches and to step into the mission field to accompany others on their journey into faith. Let’s take a look at the progress we are making in the diocese toward some of the goals included in the priority plan.


Parishes are working on evaluating reconciliation in their parishes — what is working in their parish and what could help them to further foster reconciliation between individuals, families and communities. The reports and parish plans indicate that the Evenings of Reconciliation and other discussion groups on the subject have been fruitful. For example, St. Joseph in Spearfish, St. Paul in Belle Fourche and St. Mary Star of the Sea in Newell reported, “the evening (of reconciliation) was a prayerful time taken seriously by those present. In our areas of discussion on reconciliation we found that identifying what was going on was an important first step. From there we tried to move on to how can we be a better instrument of God’s reconciling love. Most important, for participants, the desire was there for reconciliation in our personal life, family, parish and community along with the willingness to take positive action.”

Sacraments and Worship

Father Michel Mulloy, Director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese reported that thirteen individuals have accepted his invitation to join the Diocesan Liturgical Commission. The commission will meet in January to begin their work. A survey for all parishioners about their experience of liturgy in the diocese will be among the first items on the agenda for the newly formed commission. Expect to see it in your parish next fall. Next Up: There are three goals with January 1, 2017, due dates in the Foundations Ministries of Education and Faith Formation and Vocations and Evangelization.

Foundational Ministry: Education and Formation

Distance Learning Opportunities (Through Him, With Him, and in Him, p. 111) Provide 3-5 ongoing opportunities for formation for catechists and parishioners in a distance learning format by January 1, 2017.

This past spring Susan Safford, diocesan director of the Faith Formation Office, assembled a committee to help plan formation for catechists and parishioners in a distance learning format. Obviously, many of our small, rural parishes are several hours from the Chancery and lack the staff and resources that are available in Rapid City. The Listening Sessions held throughout western South Dakota clearly indicated that a greater effort was needed to bring opportunities for faith formation to the places where our parishioners live and pray. The faith formation committee identified online resources available from organizations including the Augustine Institute and Ascension Press. They are looking at ways to better use Real Presence Radio (89.9 and 94.7 FM) as well as KINI Radio (96.1 FM) in Rosebud to reach out with good Catholic content, both on-the-air and online. The committee is looking for ways to make the program, more accessible to parishes through grant possibilities and group discounts. FORMED has been called “Netflix for Catholics” and offers movies, audio presentations, study programs, and eBooks from trusted Catholic apostolates for an annual fee paid by the parish. The office of faith formation is working with the diocesan communications office to get the word out to parishioners about the availability of resources and opportunities for faith formation. This month there was a list of Advent materials and resources posted on the diocesan website at Keep an eye out for future suggestions. Faith on the Road continues to grow as well. This outreach team from the diocese travels to provide onsite formation opportunities on a number of themes for Catholics of all ages, including youth ministry, vocations outreach, family enrichment and adult formation. A list of possible topics was provided to parishes in August. Pastors and parish directors of religious formation can schedule a visit from the Faith on the Road team by contacting the Office of Faith Formation. The office is also compiling a list of talented local speakers who could add to the presentations that the office is already bringing to parishes.

Pastoral Priority: Vocations and Evangelization

(Through Him, With Him, and in Him, p. 120-124) Forming Parish Vocations Committees Each parish or parish grouping will form a vocations committee to encourage and promote a culture of vocations by January 1, 2017.

In April of 2016, Rhonda Gruenewald, author of “Hundredfold: A Guide to Parish Vocation Ministry,” conducted workshops in Ft. Pierre and Piedmont. Participants were given practical information to help them create a culture of vocations in the parish. A follow-up workshop is scheduled on March 18, 2017. Several parishes have taken this information and formed vocations teams. These parishes have begun to promote vocations in various ways. •Blessed Sacrament had a big celebration for Priesthood Sunday — there are some great photos of this event on the Vocations Facebook page, GodsCall. •Spearfish had a pie social to welcome Fr. John Paul Trask as their new parochial vicar. •Custer parishioners presented Fr. Grant Gerlach with a coupon book when he arrived as their new administrator, including offers for “a picnic lunch with our family” or “one hike in the hills with our family” and other similar, hospitable invitations. •Piedmont has borrowed the priest and sister cutouts from the vocations office and set them up for kids to have their picture taken. They also invited Fr. Mark McCormick, diocesan vocations director, to speak to parents and grandparents about encouraging vocations. •Parishioners in Bonesteel are making up photo cards for each priest in our diocese with their name and address. Parishioners will be invited to take one and send the priest a card on their birthday and ordination anniversary and to pray for them. The Vocations Office provided all parishes with a resource packet for National Vocations Awareness Week and Priesthood Sunday. The vocations website ( provides access to resources. Shawna Hanson and Father Mark McCormick are excited about the work of parish vocations teams and hope to see more teams established in the coming year. Consider visiting with your pastor about this opportunity to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life in your community!

Relational Ministry Training

Train and form 10-15 people from each parish or parish grouping in relational ministry and sharing the joy of the Gospel of Christ through witness and testimony by January 1, 2017. Staff of the Vocations and Faith Formation Offices are working together with a committee to find ways to increase relational ministry in the diocese. The goal for relational ministry is to: “provide training for people in the local parish communities to become evangelizers in answer to their baptismal call.” (Through Him, With Him, and in Him, p. 120-124) The committee is considering how best to identify people from around the diocese who already have a natural sense of relational ministry and provide training to prepare them to train others. In addition, Bishop Gruss has formed a delegation to participate in a national Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, Florida, hosted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops next July. Delegates will form an evangelization team and bring back tools and the spirit to influence parish and diocesan communities, and to form the Church of the missionary option envisioned by Pope Francis. Delegates include Father Steve Biegler (Cathedral Pastor and Vicar General), Susan Safford (Director of Faith Formation), Amy Julian (Director of Family Life Ministries), Father Mark McCormick (Director of Stewardship and Vocations), Dionne Eastmo (Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City), Vincent and Val King (St. Isaac Jogues, Rapid City), Whitney and Laurie Driscoll (St. Joseph, Spearfish), Bill White (Christ the King, Porcupine), Ben and Jenny Black Bear (St. Charles, St. Francis), Ron Brown Otter (St. Aloysius, Bullhead), Sr. Jacque Schroeder OFM (St. Bernard, McLaughlin) and Father Michel Mulloy (St. Bernard, McLaughlin).

Be Part of the Process

As part of your end-of-year reflection and goal-setting process for the coming year, consider using available resources for furthering your own faith formation and spiritual growth through programs offered through your parish or through the diocese. Pick up a Lighthouse CD from your church, listen to a Catholic podcast, visit a Catholic website or prayerfully re-read Chapter 2 of the Bishop’s book. Take time to consider how God might be calling you to participate in the mission and ministry of the Church in your local community. Offer to be part of your vocations ministry team to promote religious and priestly vocations. Pray for the others you encounter in your daily life and find ways to help them encounter the love and mercy of God through your own words and actions. Build positive relationships that help you to grow in faith and to be strengthened and encouraged to share faith with others in ways both profound and simple. Taking any of these steps will help to renew your own faith and to bring the fire of God’s love to our families, parishes and communities.

The Diocesan Priority Plan — What is happening?

(Editor’s note: All page and chapter references are from the bishop’s pastoral letter, “Through Him, With Him and In Him”)
By Teresa Spiess

Have you read the book?
As we unpack the pastoral plan and the spiritual guide provided by Bishop Robert Gruss in his pastoral letter, Through Him, With Him and In Him, many of us have been struck with how much work the plan outlines. The question for many of us is, “Where do we start?”

Actually, much of the work has already begun. Many plan-directed activities are happening. Over the coming months, this space will outline some of those activities.

Prayer is always a great place to start. Therefore, in addition to encouraging everyone to read the book, pastors are now including an intention in the Prayers of the Faithful (Universal Prayer) each Sunday for some aspect of the plan. Have you noticed?

The goals in the Diocesan Priority Plan included due dates. Who is going to make sure that the plans are moving forward? Are we supposed to be doing something?

Pastoral Planning is a living work, and it relies on the human efforts of many people. The process has to allow for some adjustment when the situation shifts. Already we are seeing some shifts, although the movement is always forward toward a goal.

Foundational Ministry Sacraments and Worship

The first due date for a goal in the plan was the formation of a liturgy commission, which was originally slated for completion by September 1 (pp. 104-108).

Background: Our Office of Worship has been a one-man operation for many years. Fr. Michel Mulloy has served as the director of the office since 1994, working alone for most of that time. After the goals for Sacraments and Worship were published, he was reassigned from the cathedral to McLaughlin. The move and settling into a new parish community required him to focus on pastoral matters this summer.

With less time for Fr. Mulloy to focus on the Office of Worship and with other priorities in the diocese over the summer, the timeline for this goal was no longer realistic, and the Bishop, with counsel from the Envisioning Team, changed the due date to November 30, 2016. The work includes the following:

  • The commission itself will need to be formed – mission, vision, values, goals, priorities – and formalized with a charter. •The members will need to be formed: to read and reflect on Church documents and scripture, to study the liturgical environments in this diocese, to prayerfully discern how the liturgy of the Church can be most completely the “summit toward which the Church is directed” and “the fount from which her power flows.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 10)
  • The commission will need to be carefully selected. Those who serve will need to be able to give of time and attention to this work. They need to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit and to the authority of the Church. They need to be able to approach this work without a preconceived agenda. The members will be asked to travel for meetings and to serve for a number of years.

The selection of commission members is well under way. Pastors have nominated parishioners to serve on the diocesan liturgical commission. Father Mulloy has reviewed the nominations and made his recommendations to the Bishop. Membership will be established by November 30, when meetings will begin to charter the Diocesan Liturgical Commission. All this is to be completed by March 30, 2017.

Among the first tasks of the Liturgical Commission will be to consult parishioners about their experience of Mass in their parishes. The delay in establishing the Commission necessitated the adjustment of this goal (p. 108). The new due date for this goal is October 30, 2017. That will allow time for the Commission to research and develop the process for consultation and assessment of current liturgical practices, to communicate the plan for assessment to the diocese, conduct the survey and tabulate results for the Bishop for further communication.

What is expected of me?

While all of that is going on at the diocesan level, each of us can participate by spending some time reflecting on our own encounter with Jesus Christ in the sacraments and by making an extra effort to be engaged in prayer, especially when we are at Mass. As Bishop Gruss reminds us in his pastoral letter, “Full, conscious and active participation in our liturgical celebrations is foundational to this encounter. As we are transformed by what we celebrate, so we become more fully the Body of Christ, the Church” (p. 108).

Pastoral Priority Reconciliation Goals (Chapter 9)

  • Identify areas where reconciliation and unity are strong and areas where reconciliation is needed for each parish or group of parishes by December 1, 2016.
  • Each parish or group of parishes will submit to the Bishop a plan which engages and promotes reconciliation and includes an implementation process by March 1, 2017.

Parishes have begun their work on the Pastoral Priority of Reconciliation. In August, Bishop Gruss provided pastors with an action plan to accomplish the above goals.

Have you noticed anything about reconciliation going on in your parish? Fr. Steve Biegler used his October 9 bulletin cover to call for a week of prayer for reconciliation in the cathedral parish from October 12-18. Many priests have reflected in their homilies on reconciliation in its various forms and among individuals and groups, as well as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In his homily on October 23, Fr. Brian Lane reminded parishioners that a simple and effective Act of Contrition can be quoted directly from the Sunday Gospel reading: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Lk 18:13). Other homilies in the past few months have emphasized reconciliation within our personal relationships, between family members and within communities.

To become a reconciling community, we might begin by carefully reading Chapter 9 of the Bishop’s pastoral letter. To go further, we can look at the Sunday readings and study them for God’s message of reconciliation.

Parishes have been asked to host evenings of prayer and reflection on Reconciliation, to dream about what a reconciling parish would look like and to assess the availability of reconciliation and the need for further reconciliation in their parish communities.

By December 1, pastors are to report that assessment to the Bishop. Then pastors and parish leaders will use the assessment and resources on reconciliation to make a parish reconciliation plan aimed at making each parish a reconciling parish, where forgiveness, healing and unity are promoted and nurtured. The plans are scheduled to be in place in parishes by March 1, 2017.

How should I participate?

Meanwhile, we as individuals can make our own assessment. Accept the challenge! Reflect on the questions included on page 84 in the pastoral letter, participate in our parish’s discussions on reconciliation, and share with our parish leadership our own thoughts, hopes and prayers for reconciliation. Visit and pray with our own family members about reconciliation.

If the pastoral plan is merely a nice idea left tucked inside an attractive book on a shelf in the corner, it can accomplish nothing. However, if we give it the time and attention so that we know the plan and have internalized the vision and mission of the diocese, these mere words can shape all of the work that we do for the sake of the Gospel, and together we can “create” a healthy, vibrant diocese that will continue building the Kingdom of God for years to come” (p. 6).

—Reconcile—Make Disciples—Live the Mission— October

Bringing the Priority Plan to life at home and in the community

—Reconcile—Make Disciples—Live the Mission—



Fr. John Hatcher, SJ
President, St. Francis Mission, Rosebud
Promoting forgiveness and healing among racial groups


Racism is an interesting and ambiguous term. How many races are there? Sounds like a question for the folks who built the of Tower Babel. That story is a way to explain the many divisions among peoples of the earth. Another way of talking about this is Original Sin — that weakening of human nature that allows the evil spirit to exploit human kind by tricking individuals into defining themselves as different and even better than other individuals. The fact is that there is only one race — the human race. Christ creates every human being in his own image. We are all more alike, spiritually, physically and intellectually than we are different.

Rather than talk about “racism” or “different races” we need to explore ethnic groups and the gifts that the Christ has given to us through them. Of course the major ethnic group in our diocese is the Lakota people who live on five reservations and in almost every community off the reservations. At the same time there is a Hispanic community and at least culturally different from each other, a prairie community, a city community and a small Air Force community.

My main experience has been with Lakota people. I was raised in the South for the most part, so I am familiar with segregation and the last gasps of “separate but equal.” What surprised me when I came to South Dakota was the depth of prejudice against Lakota people and their depth of prejudice against White people. I wish that after 41 years I could say that the situation has improved, but sadly that is not the case.

If I asked many White persons in West River to give me a profile of a Lakota person, what I would get is a profile with all negative stereotypes. And if I ask many Lakota persons to give me a profile of White people, I would also get negative stereotypes.

What is interesting to me is that if I introduced either group to the people in the other group that I know and work with, they would not find people who actually fit the stereotypes that they have in their minds. I know many prayerful, humble, kind, generous, hard working, and intelligent people in both groups. But often these people never meet one another.

Reconciliation means, “to make friends again.” This is not achieved simply by praying. Prayer is necessary to give us the courage we need to do something, namely, reach out to one another and break the pattern of prejudice. We are called to respect one another as persons fashioned in the image and likeness of Christ. We must actually go out of our way to meet persons from the other group and listen to their stories — the pain, the joy, the anger, the achievements and the failures. All of us need to ask and receive forgiveness for wrongs done but perhaps most of all for walling each other off and ignoring one another.

Recently, 90 people from communities around the Diocese of Rapid City came to St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Reservation to attend the Pilgrimage Day of Mercy. Many people told me at the end of the day how much they enjoyed the experience and how welcomed they felt by the Indian community of St. Charles Church. They also got a taste for how the cultural gifts of the people enriched the Liturgy and their experience. Deacon Ben Black Bear spoke to them about the history of Catholicism among the Lakota. People participated in the Directions Song and the azilya (smoke blessing) and walked through a tipi set up at the Holy Door. It was only a taste of what the ancient relationship God established with Lakota people can bring to the Liturgy and theology of the church.

Where do we want to be in five years? If we can change our hearts and accept one another as equals in the eyes of God, if we can open our hands and accept the gifts of culture and persons created by Christ, if we can do the hard work of listening to each other and come to enjoy each others differences, the Church of Rapid City will be much healthier and much more joy filled.

Native Cultural Values

Envisioning Team members want to follow the example set by Jesus and promote healing in families, between communities and among racial groups in the church. They established a goal to identify areas where reconciliation is working well and where it could be improved.

The focus of Catholic Social Services Lakota Circles of Hope is on social and emotional development in a Lakota cultural context. According to Jim Kinyon, executive director of CSS, it will be offered in more than 20 schools next year. Religion cannot be taught in the public school system; however, cultural lessons can be. The goal is to have students develop a sense of self worth and develop a good self image. This helps to address any future developmental problems as the child moves into adolescence and adulthood. It is a prevention program — prevention from substance abuse, personal abuse, and other related mental health issues.

According to John J. Usera, Ph.D., Lakota Circles of Hope Program Evaluator and Researcher, “The program provides knowledge and coping skills to deal with situations and challenges they encounter daily in a Lakota cultural context. The lessons are presented using Lakota values, traditions, and practices as a framework for making good decisions.

“Each lesson begins with the students sitting around the medicine wheel which represents the four directions and the four aspects of a human being (intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual). Smudging is performed (azilya) to help purify a person and help individuals to be open and truthful in the presence of the Creator.

“Then the students begin the discussion of the topic for the day by using the traditional talking circle guidelines. The current evaluation and research of the program, have found the students to be more respectful of each other, open to their strengths and challenges, and to have an appreciation of their own self-worth and their connectedness to each other as brothers and sisters in one extended family (tiospaye).”

Deacon Marlon Leneaugh, director of Native Ministries, said, “The Lakota Circles of Hope curriculum was designed to help children learn values and see positive behaviors through lessons taught from a cultural perspective using Lakota materials and stories. Each lesson has a moral to the story that will help children be influenced with positive messages and examples. The curriculum uses topics that are relevant for children and youth today. It brings help and hope and an awareness of the risky behaviors confronting the young people. The lessons present alternative problem solving methods.

“If the teachings are validated at home with caretakers that know the Lakota language or culture, the material can be very supportive in changing behaviors and preventing children from becoming victims to many of the social ills present today.”

Latino Community

Barbara Linares is a member of the Latino community in the diocese.

She said all the events they have are open to anyone who wishes to attend. The Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass, will be held Dec. 12, at Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City, at 5:30 p.m. It is a bilingual celebration. During Lent the Latino community has bilingual Stations of the Cross of the Migrant Jesus at the same church.

“We are planning to do bilingual posadas during Advent this year,” said Linares. Posadas are part of Mexican tradition. Participants go to houses seeking room for Joseph and Mary — like the couple sought from the innkeeper in the Bible.

Linares said in the future they would like to have leadership formation programs and adult retreats with bilingual speakers.

Hearing the Call

In the Envisioning Team Five Year Statement of Vision, a high priority is placed on empowering people to grow in their relationships of love in the human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral areas. Through prayer, people are able to discern their calling and live more fully their vocations to single, married, religious life or ordained ministry.

Fr. Mark McCormick is the director of the Office of Stewardship and Vocations. He remembers as a child driving home from Mass at Blessed Sacrament in Rapid City and his father would say, from time to time, “It would be great if one of my sons would become a priest and one of my daughters would become a religious sister.”

“These words of my father continue to echo in my own heart today,” said Father McCormick. He advises that the best way to create a culture of vocations in families is for parents to pray with their children about God’s desires and plans for them in their lives.

“Parents can assure their children that God does indeed have a mission in his kingdom reserved for them alone and God’s plan is far better than any plan they might choose for themselves,” he said.

He invites parents to be intentional in their conversations with their children about the universal call to holiness and the specific calls within that of a call to priesthood, religious life and sacramental marriage. “I encourage them to emphasize that God alone fulfills every the desire of the human heart and does so in all of these vocational paths,” said Father McCormick. “One practical suggestion for cultivating a vocation is to pray a prayer to know one’s vocation as part of the meal blessing.” A copy of this prayer and many other resources can be found at

He advocates inviting priests and religious sisters over for dinner and asking them to share their personal call to priesthood or religious life. Lastly, a family could pray a family rosary with the intention to know one’s vocation or break open the Sunday Gospel as a way to reflect together on the life-giving Word of God.

“My own discernment to priesthood really began by the gift of faith that my parents gave me by participating in Sunday Eucharist and, at times, daily Mass during Lent. It was being actively involved in the parish life at Blessed Sacrament Church as an altar server through high school and being involved in the parish youth group as well as diocesan activities and retreat programs. It was during these activities that caring adults at Blessed Sacrament would pull me aside from time to time and invite me to consider priesthood,” he said.

“Bishop Harold Dimmerling had a tremendous impact in my willingness to give seminary a try. After my fourth visit to Bishop Dimmerling, in a year while I was going to South Dakota State University in Brookings, he said to me ‘Mr. McCormick, I know you feel called to be a youth minister but I’m telling you I think you have a call to priesthood.’ In the end, I said yes to Bishop Dimmerling and gave seminary a try. He was right, it was in giving seminary a try that I discovered the Father’s invitation to be a priest of his Son, Jesus Christ. “

Guiding Children

The Envisioning Team recognizes as a core value, the family as the domestic chuch, and that parents and guardians are the primary educators of the children in the Catholic faith. They encourage them to model a lively faith by attending Mass, praying daily and providing catechetical formation.

Director of Family Life Ministries, Amy Julian, said, “I came into the church when Gia was in pre-school, so she would come with me to daily Mass before school each day. Rather than push religious life, I pushed the idea of discernment, that God was calling her to a particular life for which she had been especially designed, and she should involve him in that decision. I pointed out the fact that to go into religious life, if she was called into marriage, would be just as sad as getting married if she was truly called to be a spouse of Christ. After that, I let my daughter make a decision.”

Amy and her husband Joe live near Beulah, Wyoming. Their daughter, Gia, was invested with the habit of Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara on December 7, 2015. She received the name Sister Maria, Madonna dei Poveri or Mary, Mother of the Poor.

Pat and Rosemary Trask, Elm Springs, have a son who is a diocesan priest, Fr. John Paul Trask, Spearfish. He was ordained July 2, 2015.

Rosemary said, “Our goal was to orientate home life to reflect the everyday routine of the ‘domestic church.’ The priests we saw each week were our heroes. We remembered them in our daily family rosary, which was our unity and protection. We sent our children to Totus Tuus Camps and we went as a family to parish missions and Marian Conferences. As a dad, and a former altar boy, Pat was defensive of that stepping stone to ordination as a male calling that reverenced God the Father.”

—Make Disciples—

Marriage as a Vocation

In their Priority Plan core values, the Envisioning Team said the people of the Diocese of Rapid City, would support and promote the church’s understanding of marriage and family life. In his pastoral letter, “Through Him, With Him and In Him,” Bishop Robert Gruss explains the marriage relationship using the Trinity. On page 57, it says, “… the Trinity is a loving and life-giving communion of equal Persons. The one God in the loving inter-relationship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

“Marriage, in this way, is a communion of love between co-equal persons, beginning with the love between husband and wife, extending to all members of the family.”

Living out such devout faith for a lifetime is particularly important when facing life’s challenges. Two couples, each married 50 years, were asked how their faith had strengthened their unions.

Marion and Darlene Matt, Philip, said they had always attended church together and they raised their family in the church too. “We have always had our family involved with us,” said Matt.

Darlene said faith was particularly important when their son, a 21 year old college student, was killed along with another boy in a car wreck during a snow storm.

They agreed prayer is an important part of life whether it is individual, family or silent.

“We are very close, we tell each other we love each other every day. One of things I really enjoy is sitting in church and holding his hand,” said Darlene. In service to their parish, Sacred Heart Church, they both work on flowers and trimming bushes.

Another couple, Bill and Linda Young, Custer, said faith has been an integral part of their marriage. “Faith is important from day one, in good times and difficult times.

“One thing that sticks out,” he said, “In the 1990s we attended a Retrouvaille Retreat.* It kept us on track with our faith and helped our marriage tremendously.”

He quipped the oft used maxim, “The family that prays together, stays together.”

Bill said, “Faith is more important now than everything else. In society today our children and grand children need good role models. Our faith has led us to do that.”
*Retrouvaille is a retreat ministry with follow-up sessions to help couples in hurting marriages, possibly separated or divorced.


Helping Right Here

As we, as Christians, strive to live life imitating Christ, the Envisioning Team calls us to the core values of solidarity and charity. Solidarity, it says in the Priority Plan is, “recognizinging and accepting all people as brothers and sisters; being responsible for the common good of all.”

Charity, the plan says, is “Loving God and others because God first loved us.

National and international collections are held frequently in the parishes, but what about loving and standing with people in this diocese?

Mike Davies, an Envisioning Team member, explained his parish is in a “sister parish” relationship with three churches on the Standing Rock Reservation. “In 1996, Our Lady of the Black Hills in Piedmont was remodeled to expand the worship space. During this time, there was discussion and concern about ‘focusing inward’ too much. Then-pastor (the late) Fr. Peter Kovarik and interested church members brainstormed possibilities to help others. It happened that one of Father Kovarik’s friends, Fr. Steve Biegler, was among the first diocesan priests, along with (the late) Msgr. William O’Connell, to serve on the Standing Rock Reservation. The parishes at that time included: St. Bonaventure, McIntosh; St. Michael, Watauga; St. Aloysius, Bullhead; Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Kenel; and St. Bede, Wakpala. The Piedmont Church began a mutual relationship to help, pray for and get to know each other. (Today the parishes supported include McLaughlin, Kenel, Bullhead and Wakpala.)

“Over the years, this has included mission trips, evangelization, pow-wows, teaching exchanges, building crews, priest exchanges, and most of all prayers and encouragement for each other to live and evangelize our faith. In addition, OLBH supports these parishes financially by giving about $7,000 annually to help pay for general costs. Piedmont parishioner Patty Cresalia is currently the head of the liaison group.

Cresalia said, “Lifestyles, comforts, and struggles are not the same everywhere and as we learn about the culture surrounding our parishes we are building an awareness through the support we share.

“The fruit borne of this relationship between OLBH and our four sister parish communities are that we share the gift of treasure and presence. We are no longer unknown or strangers, but we become connected in our desire to embrace faith sharing in our church family.”

Fr. Michel Mulloy is an Envisioning Team member and the pastor of those sister parishes in the northern part of the diocese.

He said, “McLaughlin and its missions enjoy the ministry of Sr. Jacque Schroeder and Sr. Brigitte Owamba-Shomba. Both sisters are from Franciscan Orders. They meet with and work with the people in our four parishes in the spirit of St. Francis.

“They provide a presence that is different from my priestly ministry and is unique to their calling. The diocese is helping with the salaries and health care expenses in this first year, but the additional expenses of food, housing and transportation are paid for in part through the generosity of Our Lady of the Black Hills in Piedmont.

“That parish has taken to heart the diocesan vision of “living the mission.” They are putting their own resources into fulfilling that vision and McLaughlin and its missions are sharing in their commitment. We are deeply grateful that they embrace the diocesan vision.”

The funds provided for the reservation parishes are crucial for serving those churches according to Colleen Keller, the McLaughlin bookkeeper.

She said, “The money goes into Lakota ministry. Every fiscal quarter I transfer $7,000 and divide it between our three parishes. (Masses are not offered at Wakpala.) It goes to pay for mileage for the sisters and Father Mulloy to travel out to the mission parishes, do a night with the rosary and things like that. It helps with the priest’s salary, catechetical supplies and faith formation for kindergarten to adults on Wednesday nights.

“We couldn’t make it without our sister parish.”


—Live the Mission—

Randy Vette
Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry

For any Christian to truly live the mission he or she has to be called by Christ. They must be motivated by the love of Christ, and for that to happen the person has to fall in love with Christ in a real way. To that end we shape all our events and diocesan programs so that the Good Shepherd can reach his people and claim their hearts.

Through participation in Totus Tuus Girls and Boys Camps, Duc In Altum summer catechetical program, World Youth Day, TEC (Together Encounter Christ) Retreats, Steubenville Conferences, and other youth events and rallies, the young people of our diocese experience an opportunity to encounter the Lord and let him reveal the plan for each of their lives.

In all of the programs mentioned we include Mass, adoration, reconciliation, and various forms of prayer. Then we send them out to love their neighbor — not in theory — not just during the retreat/camp, but every day.

Especially through Totus Tuus we foster vocational awareness and the courage to answer the call. It is a beautiful thing to see teens at a Steubenville Conference, after a moving encounter with the Lord in eucharistic adoration, go up to the altar (in front of their peers) as a sign of their openness to a call to priesthood or religious life.



—Reconcile—Make Disciples—Live the Mission— September

Bringing the Priority Plan to life at home and in the community

—Reconcile—Make Disciples—Live the Mission—


Reconciliation and Communities

Two Envisioning Team members were asked what has to happen before we can genuinely invite others to experience the good news of God’s love through an encounter with Jesus. Fr. Christopher Johnson, Pine Ridge, said, “We need to recognize that we have failed in love, and we need to believe that God, who is love, came among us as one of us to share the good news and that despite our failures, we can, in any moment, discover how we have gone astray, correct course, and step into the kingdom of God. We then need to see others as we see ourselves, as loved sinners longing for communion.”

Fr. Steve Biegler, Rapid City, said. “One thing we need to realize is our mission to be ‘church’ is inviting others to experience the good news.

“We have gained some ground in that territory, we are getting people to understand that our mission is to evangelize and reach out. We are helping people see that a parish is a mission center — I think that’s an image used by Pope Francis.

“If we are going to invite them here they have to have a place to land that they feel is welcoming and safe. Obviously that means a place of hospitality.

“A lot of people don’t see themselves as people who invite, welcome or evangelize.

“My experience in the last several years, is that for people who are unchurched or who are not regular in a Catholic faith journey, the Mass is too much for them.

“I would say before we can genuinely invite people we need another place for them to enter. We have to explore that, another experience of prayer and liturgy that might not be the Mass. It might be an adoration experience or healing service. But we need to figure out some of the language from the Making Disciples workshop; we need a ‘lower threshold.’

“I’ve found, for example, that couples who come for marriage or baptism instruction, are exploring, but not sure they want full participation. They need an in between step.”

The priests also considered how our core values need to influence the way we work towards reconciliation in the church and local communities.

Father Johnson said, “Through prayer we find ourselves loved and called to love. Through prayer we find ourselves children of God, surrounded by brothers and sisters. In the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, we find that we too suffer, and our hearts reach out in love. When our families pray and foster care for one another, reconciliation happens. In seeing all people as children of God, as brothers and sisters, this reconciliation can extend throughout the world.”

Father Biegler added, “Everyone on the Envisioning Team was convinced that prayer is the most valuable place to start. The work of prayer, which is a spiritual work, is integral to the success of any ministry in the church. I always tell people who come to confession, and need reconciliation with someone, to pray for that person. Pray for the grace you need for yourself. God can work something through prayer in ways that we could never work.

“Many people who say in confession, ‘I know God forgives me, I can’t forgive myself.’ Then, they are not receiving God’s forgivenesss. We aren’t very good at receiving mercy and I don’t think they really believe in Christ’s mercy.”

“Solidarity is a really strong value for being a brother or sister toward everyone, we think of reconciliation with people who have hurt us, we might not think of people we may have ignored, immigrants, unborn, elderly, and other races.”

Making Disciples with Prayer

The Mass is the source and summit of becoming disciples ourselves, so we can go out to make disciples of others. Fr. Michel Mulloy, an Envisioning Team Member from McLaughlin, said, “Being a disciple of Jesus requires spending time with the Master. Spending time with Jesus can take many forms, but there is no substitute for praying the Mass. The Mass is Jesus’ self-surrender to God the Father through the Holy Spirit. As we celebrate Mass, we join with Jesus and learn over and over how to live our discipleship.”

Father Mulloy also explained that being in love with Christ forms the basis of our desire to spread his Gospel.

“When I love someone, the loved one is the source of my activity and the end of all I do. I want others to know the one who has captured my heart. When I love the Lord, then I want to spread the good news of who he is to everyone I meet so that they can come to know and love him as well.”

The practice of loving Christ inspires a conversion of hearts and minds. At the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City, Stephanie Hatley joined the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil. She said, “My conversion was an entire mind, body, and soul transformation. From my daily thought patterns and attitude, to my physical health, to my heart’s deepest desires, I am literally a new creation.”

Hatley works as a cleaning lady. She began getting several new clients who were Catholic. She talked to them about church doctrine and started researching things on her own. Two of her clients she said were particularly influential, Courtney and Nancy Lien. Courtney served as her sponsor going through RCIA.

“I was trying to cope with the wounds of an absent father, I spent 14 years searching for love and happiness in the world. I lived a noisy life, desperately seeking the approval of others, while attempting to mask the pain and guilt with alcohol and drugs,” Hatley said.

She continued, “God captivated me with his mercy. As my heart began to embrace what Jesus endured for us, my life rapidly began to change. My addictions and bad habits fell away. I began to love my work, appreciate my family, and have a profound desire to live life God’s way.

“In search of the truth, led by prayer, I came in to full communion with the Catholic Church. It is through His church I have been able to experience the grace and mercy I have needed all my life,” said Hatley.

Living Our Faith

In living the mission of the church and diocese, first we need to recognize that all people, at all stages of life, are important. Sue Jimmerson, Rapid City, has been active for many years with the Pro-Life Commission, which subsequently became the Social Justice Commission.

Jimmerson said, “As Catholics and Christians we believe that human life is a gift from God, each person is created in God’s image and thus deserving of care and protection. Our challenge is to promote human dignity, extending from conception, through all situations in life, until natural death.

“Unfortunately, our culture can reduce the value of a human person to an arbitrary standard that can change through laws like Roe v. Wade or assisted suicide legislation. A utilitarian view looks only at how a life would benefit others, e.g. embryonic stem cell research, the buying and selling of unborn baby parts, pornography, sex or labor trafficking, unjust wages.

Jimmerson has worked with many inter-denominational and secular groups promoting the dignity of life over the years.

“We don’t need religion to recognize that fetal development is part of the wondrous progression of human life; that poverty, unsafe living conditions, and lack of food or medical care are detrimental; or that abortion and assisted suicide are violence. Advancements in science and increased knowledge of conditions that hinder or degrade life can form our thinking and actions. There are even national atheist groups which have become involved in supporting pro-life causes.

“For example, young pro-life pagans participated in the Texas March for Life this year; Secular Pro-Life defends life in blogs and on college campuses; and Pro-Life Humanists are defenders of the marginalized and champions of human life.”

She continued, “In S.D., there are many secular or non-religious groups that affirm the dignity of human life and strive to protect it. We could not have made progress in promoting pro-life causes without uniting with such groups. Christian faiths and those with no religious faith have worked to limit Planned Parenthood’s work in Rapid City; with a civic group in Lead to ban nude dancing and adult-oriented business advertising; and with various groups on state legislation. These have always been inspirational and dynamic alliances. Today, the Social Justice Commission and parish groups help promote or aid pro-life efforts by Habitat for Humanity, Fair Trade, Right to Life, and Family Heritage Alliance.”

Being pro-life means more than just advocating on behalf of life, it means lending a helping hand. At Catholic Social Services, Family Services Supervisor, Natalie Lecy works with the Uplifting Parents Program. It is a coalition of more than 30 Rapid City social service agencies combining resources to lift single parents out of poverty.

Started in April 2014, the program has nine graduates and 14 current participants working on a degree or learning skills that will allow them to provide a better life for themselves and their children.

Lecy said, “This program is so near and dear to my heart. You are working in the trenches with folks doing everything they can to raise their family out of poverty and to create a life for their kids that most of them never had themselves.

“I’ve been doing social work for over 10 years and this is one of the most inspiring programs to work with. You see close to immediate change when people are accepted into the program. They receive scholarship and stipend money, often times they can put their children in childcare or enroll in an education program that they never thought they’d be able to go into.”

The program helps with needs like: tuition, books, transportation, housing, and childcare. Applicants must have a concrete goal and a workable time line. “We try to provide wrap-around support for the entire family. If you are coming from generational poverty and you don’t have a support system it’s easy to fall through the cracks,” she said.


—Reconcile—Deacon Greg Sass, Retuning Catholics Program, Call 939-0579

The Returning Catholic Program is a series of six classes for people who have been away from the church and are interested in returning. Deacon Sass sees it as stewardship — an ongoing invitation that calls for making room for others.

He said to welcome someone who has been away from the church, first meet him or her where they are. He advises asking if there is anything they would like you to pray about in their life. “That can be such a simple little thing and it is easy to do,” he said.

In the Book of Matthew it says, “knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Deacon Sass sees himself standing by the door, inviting people in and answering their questions. “I may not know the answer to every question; however, I tell them I will find it for them,” he said. Keeping Jesus in mind, he does not chide them for not attending Mass. He looks at their struggles and compares them to areas where he himself has struggled.

“Most of the people who attend are divorced. I had one person come through the program because people asked her why she came to church — she was a divorcee. She left the church because others did not understand the church’s teachings,” said Deacon Sass.

“It is important for everyone to know and keep studying our faith. The education on church teaching is the real benefit of this program. It is giving them that information in a non-threatening way and helping them with mercy and forgiveness,” he said.


—Make Disciples—Adoration

The Envisioning Team determined prayer is the first value. Adoration is praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. According to Valarie Brown, Faith, Adoration is held after Friday morning daily Masses.The parish started it when (the late) Fr. Brian Fawcett served the parish in the 90s. Brown’s husband, Deacon Larry Brown, was instrumental in getting it started. She said it was originally a time to pray for vocations and the parish has had a two men go to the seminary to discern a vocation.

“Adoration is a call to spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It’s a different kind of prayer. You might say your daily prayers quickly and go on with your day. This is a time of quiet,” said Brown. She said she gets a sense of peace and quiet. “It’s a time you can ask God for things in a more personal way,” said Brown.

Deacon Ray Klein, Belle Fourche, said, “Adoration is being alone with Jesus. We know Jesus is in the church. We should know He is in everybody we meet, but we don’t.

“Adoration is calming, it seems you go in there with your problems and just sit — sometimes the prayer is just to sit there and look — sometimes the answers or solutions to a problem just pop into your head,” he said.


—Live the Mission—John Litenberg, Love INC., (Love In the Name of Christ) 718-5683

“Everything Love INC., does is a shared ministry of our area churches coming together and giving parishioners an opportunity to put their faith to work. They don’t have to create a roll, its already there for them to step into,” he said.

The main office is in Rapid City and this year Love INC., is also working in Sturgis.

“We have a lot of individual volunteers and church congregations involved. Classes are taught by volunteers or organizations. The night starts out with a meal provided by an area church, and there is child care provided for adult classes,” said Litenberg.

He said word of mouth is a powerful way to attract people to their programs. “For instance, Catholic Social Services has excellent parenting classes.They are pulling in people through their organization. We are pulling people in through ours. We are doing what we can to promote brother agencies.”

One of the programs under development is “Thrive” an outdoor adventure resale store. The store will be an employment opportunity for youth that will include mentoring in job and life skills. The program will also have walking, biking and running events.

Fall classes: Financial Freedom; Bridges to Freedom, Star Quilting 101; Strengthening Families, Common Sense Parenting, Concerned Persons Study, Jobs Class, Nutrition on a Budget, Christianity Explored, Rebuild Your Broken World, Marriage, Stepping into Freedom, and Storyline: Live a better story.






—Reconcile—Make Disciples—Live the Mission— August


Bringing the Priority Plan to life at home and in the community


Bishop Robert Gruss’ pastoral letter, “Through Him, With Him, and In Him,” along with a copy of the Priority Plan of the Diocese of Rapid City and a bookmark, has been mailed to registered households in the diocese. Additional copies can be obtained at parishes. In this month’s WRC we will reflect upon the importance of reconciliation within families, how disciples embrace lifelong learning and the Gospel’s call to reach out in ministry.

Reconciliation in the Domestic Church

“As members of families, both our own and our parish family, we have experiences that pull us apart and create division. When we choose to hang on to those hurts, we remain separated from one another. That separation cripples our ability to become disciples of Jesus. His first invitation to his apostles after his resurrection was to forgive,” said Fr. Michel Mulloy, an Envisioning Team member from McLaughlin. “Forgiveness restores unity in the family and unity enables the love of God to be manifested in us.”

Envisioning Team member Mary Helen Olsen, is principal of St. Thomas More Middle School, Rapid City. She said one of the best tools the church gives us is the sacrament of reconciliation.

“Families who wish to grow in the virtue of mercy routinely practice seeking and offering forgiveness to each other. These families also seek forgiveness from the Lord in regular reception of the sacrament of reconciliation.” She added that it is helpful for parents to model for their children giving comfort and consolation to the sorrowful. Olsen said, “Finally, families can pray for the grace to grow in patience and charity with one another.”

Fr. Christopher Johnson, SJ, is an Envisioning Team member from Pine Ridge. He said, “Mercy is experiencing another’s suffering and reaching out with the heart. In injured relationships, love is wounded and misery results. Reconciliation heals relationships, better enabling us to live charity. Valuing charity and experiencing mercy draws us to reconcile. Seeking reconciliation within our families — society’s fundamental element — we more profoundly experience the love of God and we are strengthened to share that love with all the world.”

Among all the people we interact with, family members are the ones we are most likely to hurt or offend. Cathy Larsen, the director of Counseling at Catholic Social Services, Rapid City, said “One concrete way to improve communication and family relationships is to have family meetings. The meeting can open with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to be present. Families might also consider a regular daily prayer time or weekly prayer night if they are very busy.”

She recommended a format from a website called “Positive Discipline.” It discusses sticking to a set time frame, making sure everyone feels safe to talk, and joint problem solving. It promotes listening to one another, respect, and modeling the actions parents want their children to emulate.

Make Disciples by Sharing the Faith

When we invite others, including our children, to develop a closer relationship with Jesus, the way to start is by creating a sense that people are welcome and belong in the church community.

“Generous hospitality keeps inviting others to seek a deeper relationship with the Lord and his church, regardless of where they are in their faith development,” said Envisioning Team member, Fr. Mark McCormick, diocesan director of the Office of Stewardship and Vocations. “Hospitality is about seeing the other person as another Christ. Hospitality keeps inviting people back to personally encounter Jesus in the midst of the church. If we are generous in our hospitality we provide different paths or doors that will help people to connect to Christ and the church. We are always moving them to be true disciple of Jesus.”

He referred to the Letter to the Romans where St. Paul writes that one of the true markers of being Christian is to “contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality” (Rom 12:13). Father McCormick said, “Offering and practicing hospitality is the way to open the door to others as Jesus has opened the door of faith to us. Offering and practicing hospitality fosters and nurtures the gift of being in relationship with one another as stranger and as friend. It allows for conversations to spring up between God’s people, hopefully, strengthening and renewing one’s relationship with Jesus. Where faith is shared, faith is strengthened.”

Education and Formation are foundational ministries, meaning they are present in every diocese, for the purpose of building up the body of Christ. In this diocese, kindling an interest in learning about the faith happens mostly in the parishes. Susan Safford is the diocesan director of the Office of Faith Formation and an Envisioning Team member. Her role is to educate catechists who minister as religious education directors and teachers in the parishes. In turn, they minister in settings varying from multi generational gatherings to the traditional classroom settings.

“God created us, became a man, lived and died for us because of his great love. Wanting all to know and share in his love, before ascending into heaven, the Lord called his disciples to ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’

“He founded the church and promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to protect and guide her. It is our own living in union with Christ and our love and zeal and joy in the Lord that sparks an interest in learning about the Catholic faith in others. And so, the mission of the church begins with my own growth in relationship with Christ.

“Sharing that faith then must start with relationship — building relationships with people, no matter their age, becoming friends with them. As St. John Bosco said in regard to working with youth, ‘Get them to love you and they’ll follow you anywhere.’ When people know that we love them, they want to be a part of that community. From there, an introduction to Jesus Christ — his love and salvation — will draw people closer to him through love. Growth in the relationship, conversation, and union with Christ through prayer moves the heart to fall more deeply in love with him. And so, learning how to pray — to speak to and listen to the Lord — is at the heart of growing in the faith.”

For almost 900 students, pre-K-12, education in the faith is enhanced by attendance in the Rapid City Catholic School System. Envisioning Team member, Barb Honeycutt, is the superintendent of St. Elizabeth Seton Grade School, and St. Thomas More Middle and High Schools, Rapid City.

Honeycutt said, “The family, being the domestic church, creates the foundation for a strong society. In Catholic school communities, solidarity is evident in the response of our people to those in need. Through the development of personal and academic excellence, our students gain the skills and practice the virtues that create in them the desire to accept the call to love and serve one another. Graduates leave knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls them to use their talents for the common good of society. Furthermore, they are deeply committed to social justice, the care of the poor and the planet, and proud members of the church, ready to help at all times.”

LeAnn Wenger is a parent of three RCCSS students. “One of the tough things about being a Catholic convert, is that I don’t have the personal experiences to bring to my children as they have grown in their Catholic faith. I was fortunate enough to have met Father Mike Mulloy while he was serving in the town of Faith. He was the one who helped me find my ‘home’ in the Catholic Church.

“As a parent, I put all my trust in God and know that I am far from perfect. Parents are called to share the faith with their children, to teach them how to pray, to share the tremendous love God has for them, to help them enter into a relationship and union with Christ, to raise them up in the moral, liturgical, and sacramental life of the church.

“Parents give an example of virtue, faithfulness, and commitment to their children, and they help them to discern their own vocation from the Lord as he draws them to holiness.

“Called to solidarity with all people, the disciples of Christ desire all to come to share in the great love that we share in — knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, and so the mission of the church given by Christ extends to every person.”

The task of raising children in faith also takes place in homeschooling families.

Peggy Sue Mutchler, Keystone, is the mother of six. “I was raised like most Catholic kids; attending Sunday Mass and Wednesday CCD classes. We prayed the rosary and lit our Advent candles. My parents instilled in me a strong foundation of faith.”

She said she was open to the Holy Spirit when the opportunity to homeschool her children arose. “Through the grace of God, I have been able to intertwine faith into my children’s lives and schooling; to immerse them in the beauty of Catholicism has become a natural process.

“Faith has become our daily routine. The rosary is our morning start. Daily Mass is a bonus. We immerse ourselves in school curriculum that is Catholic based; history is read from a Catholic perspective, spelling and vocabulary teach us words like ‘transubstantiation.’ Catholic artwork is a staple in our home; whether purchased, or home-made.”

She said she has found support from members of their parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as well. “The kids enjoy cantoring, lectoring, and altar serving at Mass.”

Live the Mission on Sacred Ground

The spiritual and corporal works of mercy are an important component of the Catholic faith. In the land west of the Missouri River there are three primary cultural backgrounds, Native Americans, white Anglo descendants and Hispanics. There are also a handful of people with roots in other traditions. Faith has been handed down in different ways in different traditions and while one might be versed in their own faith traditions, they could still be ignorant of traditions from another culture.

Maria Munoz, an Envisioning Team member, was one of three women who spoke with the West River Catholic on extending works of mercy to different cultures. She said as a member of the Envisioning Team she reached out to parishes in the diocese to determine the number of Hispanic parishioners being served. No one knew — questions of ethnicity are not on registration forms.

She said, “ Every parish should update their registrations to identify the diversity in the community. How many Hispanics or Vietnamese do they serve?”

Irma Lefaive, an Envisioning Team member from Ft. Pierre, said the forms should include more information on heritage that would identify Germans, Norwegians or French descendants.

She suggested an informative way to encounter other cultures. Lefaive said, “Have a monthly dinner that is ethnic in origin and along with the dinner have people dress in traditional regalia and bring their traditions. Maybe center it around a saint’s day that is particular to a culture.”

An Envisioning Team member who serves on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Veronica Valandra, said learning about other cultures works best when it goes two ways.

“As I reflect on ‘actions of mercy’ I think of the service groups that come to the reservation each summer to share their gifts by assisting the parishes with their vacation Bible camps. They in turn learn from us our cultural ways of worship and life. Taking communion to home bound, Wake Teams leading wake services and comforting the mourners, and the group planning the diocesan pilgrimage for the Year of Mercy here in October are all ‘actions of mercy.’ At the pilgrimage event, we will share with all people who attend an inculturated faith, incorporating the Lakota ways of prayer. Mercy is the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where we can share in God’s love through an encounter with Jesus Christ and live a good way of life as a Lakota Catholic.”

Two of the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy include feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City, has three groups that serve a meal at the Cornerstone Rescue Mission the second Sunday of each month. Each group serves quarterly.

Paula Clark, a Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishioner, is a member of a 2006 Renew group that has remained active.

“Our Renew group is one of three, that still meet, pray, study, etc., for Advent and Lent of each year. One of the other of these groups is headed by Teresa Treinen and she invited our Renew group to join theirs in providing a meal at the mission. We started serving mission meals as a combined Renew effort in June 2007.”

According to Clark, the group is funded by the Cathedral for most of the meal and the groceries are purchased.

“I can only speak for myself in that I usually leave the mission uplifted and realize how great it is that we are blessed and have enough. I love to serve rather than cook because I like the direct interaction with those we serve. Most of those receiving the meal are very grateful, complimentary, and they vocalize that.”

(Contributing to this article were Laurie

Hallstrom and Becky Berreth)





Fr. Steve Biegler, Vicar General, Envisioning Team Member


Pope Francis talks about “Personal Accompaniment in Processes of Growth” in his apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel” (Evangelii Gaudium 169-173).

According to the pope, it is meeting people where they are now and sharing their journey. That requires the virtues of

prudence, understanding,

patience, and docility of spirit. The process is further explained by Bishop Robert Gruss in his pastoral letter, “Through Him, With Him and In Him,” on pages 55-56.

Father Biegler said, “The art of accompaniment is not an entirely new concept. You are on a journey with someone as people who are both trying to grow in the Spirit.”

In Evangelii Gaudium the pope quotes Exodus 3:5 wherein Moses sees the burning bush.

Father Biegler said, “The first thing Pope Francis teaches us is to remove our sandals — we are on sacred ground. I think what he means by that is we need to

recognize the sacredness of the other person’s journey. We are all on a pilgrimage with Christ to the Father. We are walking with

another person step-by-step to become more Christ like.”

According to Father Biegler docility of spirit calls for “really listening to what the Spirit is trying to do with this person. How is the Spirit calling them?”

He said a greater emphasis of Pope Francis is to “be patient.” This process is going to take time and compassion. It is a very

personal encounter, much more than counseling or therapy.

He said, “When you look at the life of Pope Francis, he is very personal with people. The art of accompaniment is deeply

personal in the context of faith.”

Father Biegler said the end of the pope’s explanation on accompanying people sums it up. “This is clearly distinct from every kind of intrusive accompaniment or isolated self-realization. Missionary disciples accompany missionary disciples” (Evangelii Gaudium 173).


—Make Disciples—

Fr. Michel Mulloy, Director of the Office of Worship, Envisioning Team Member

Father Mulloy said, “In every sacrament Jesus is present, acting on our behalf, offering himself to God the Father and inviting us to offer ourselves with him. When we fully embrace the sacramental action of Jesus we are caught up with him into the presence of God the Father and the life of the Trinity.

“Celebrating the liturgy helps make us disciples. We are doing what Jesus first did when he was on earth and what he does eternally in his relationship with the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.

“The sacraments are a primary way to live out of discipleship. However, there are other ways of worship that can impact our journey of discipleship. Any liturgical action that is associated with the sacraments, like eucharistic adoration or the Liturgy of the Hours are extensions of our encounter with Jesus and thus deepen our relationship with him and our sharing in his discipleship. Other devotional prayers (the rosary, Divine Mercy, Scripture reading and meditation, traditional prayers, spontaneous conversation with the Lord, etc.) also assist in the discipleship journey in that they are moments of reaching out to God through Jesus. Any time we sincerely seek to attend to God through Jesus in the Holy Spirit, that is, any sincere prayer, continues our movement toward a deeper discipleship with Jesus.”


—Live the Mission—

Hope For New Life jail ministry volunteers bring their faith to men and women inmates at the Pennington County Jail, Rapid City. The group started in 2005.

Bill Gradoville, a group leader, said they get positive feedback from the inmates and he has been told it is the best attended volunteer activity in the jail.

“I do it because it is a corporal work of mercy. We (volunteers) get as much out of it as the inmates do. Sharing your faith makes it stronger. Also, it has given me a new outlook on those who are incarcerated — I have more compassion,” he said.

Currently, there are two separate sessions for men held on Wednesdays, and one for women is held the same evening.

“We explain that no matter what they have done, God will forgive them,” he said.

The jail requires a background check and an orientation session on jail policies before anyone can minister. In addition, the jail ministry has prayer partners — volunteers who pray for the intentions of the inmates. Jail ministers work in teams and usually serve two Wednesdays in a row. There is a team meeting at Catholic Social Services on the third Monday of each month.

Father Ed Witt, SJ, of St. Isaac Jogues Church works with the team. According to Gradoville, the group is working with him and other ordained clergy to establish regular Mass and Communion Services.

The group gives away Bibles, rosaries, prayer books and prayer cards. At Christmas they give away 500 to 600 bags of candy to inmates and guards.


To learn more about this ministry call the following Rapid City or

Piedmont parish representatives:

Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Bill Gradoville, 341-2721

Blessed Sacrament Church, Tony Galles, 348-2301

St. Therese Church,Jill Leberknight, 431-1926

Our Lady of the Black Hills Church, Brad Blauvelt, 343-6906, or 390-0683.