Pastoral Ministry Days 2018: ‘The harvest is plentiful, the laborers are few’

By Becky Berreth

“The family is the first seminary,” said Fr. James Mason. “It’s a seedbed of vocations. Your first call is to be a beloved child of God through baptism.”

“Children are born seeking love and goodness,” agreed Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP. “When the people through whom God gave them their own distinctive life, witness to them the virtues of unconditional love and untiring goodness, a child grows up with a holy confidence in God and in self.  Through the virtues, he/she learns self knowledge and is able, through prayer, to determine one’s vocation.”

Pastoral Ministry Days is March 18-20, at Terra Sancta. This year’s conference, “Harvest,” has a focus on “creating a vibrant culture of vocations in our parishes.” Keynote speakers are Fr. Mason, president and rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, Shrewsbury, Mo., and Sr. Bogdanowicz, OP, vocation director of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Ann Arbor, Mich.

The conference officially begins on Monday morning, March 19, and ends the afternoon of March 20. There is also a Holy Hour and hospitality on Sunday evening, March 18, along with an opportunity for early check-in.

Fr. Mark McCormick, diocesan director of vocations, said the theme for this year’s conference came from the Diocesan Priority Plan. “It says that parishes are encouraged to have a vocations committee to build up the culture of vocations. It’s about building that culture in our diocese and in our parishes — beginning with the family. Moms and dads talking to their children saying God has a plan for you.

“We want to answer the question, what does it mean to build a culture of vocations in our own lives — personal, family, parishes, diocese — so that when a young person grows up, praying for their vocation isn’t something foreign to them it’s something done as a family.”

According to Fr. Mason, vocations are more than being called to the priesthood or religious life. “When we are talking about vocations we are talking about a call to holiness,” he explained. This isn’t primarily about priests and religious. It’s about holiness. We are talking about evangelization and the vocations will naturally come out of that. We live a priestly life and invited them into it. We didn’t have a program.”

“Our faith is a constant,” added Sr. Bogdanowicz. “Knowing this, parents need to begin imparting the beauty of the faith to the children while even in the womb by praying aloud for these little ones. … All the prayers and efforts will lead to an increase of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual graces that will strengthen the church in the world today, beginning with the parents and families at this conference.”

“I invite you to come and lend your heart to what the speakers have to say,” said Fr. McCormick. “We want to create this culture where everyone growing up knows that God has a plan, a purpose to their lives.”

Online registration, the flyer, and a schedule can be found at

Everyone is encouraged to register online, if possible, for purposes of accuracy of materials. Cost is $75. If you are unable to register online, you can also register by calling the Terra Sancta Retreat Center at 605-716-0925, and staff can register you over the phone. Contact Susan Thompson or Susan Safford at 605-716-5214 if you have questions.

New Lay Ministry Formation Classes slated to begin next fall

By Deacon Greg Sass

Are you in charge of a ministry at your parish? Has your pastor invited you to more fully participate in the life of your parish? Are others coming to you, looking for guidance, because they see you as a leader? Do you have an interest in growing in prayer and learning more about ministry?

If you answered yes, or even maybe, to any of those questions, you should consider participating in the Lay Ministry Formation program.

While the Lay Ministry Formation program has always operated under the authority of the local bishop, in 2017, the leadership responsibility transferred from the Jesuits to the Diocese of Rapid City. Specifically, I am now the coordinator for the Lay Ministry Formation program. Because of the transition, no new classes have been started recently. In January, discussions began to start new Lay Ministry Formation classes in the fall of 2018. If you are interested, begin by speaking to your pastor about your interest. If they, or you, have questions, please contact me at the main Chancery, 605-343-2541, ext 2228 or

The Lay Ministry Formation program prepares people for lay ministry in their parish. Most men and women who are drawn to the program are already involved in some ministry. They apply because they are increasingly aware God is calling them to leadership in ministry, under their pastor’s direction, and also to be available to assume a public role in their parish as their pastor and they decide.

The program draws people who want to grow in prayer and learn about ministry, not for their own sake but also because they have been inspired by the Holy Spirit with a desire to help build up the faith life in the parish. They want their growth to occur prayerfully in a study and sharing with other learners and in dialog with their pastor. The focus is on developing skills to share one’s faith, and in the process, also learn more about the Catholic faith. They trust God will give them the grace they will need to assume leadership in ministry.

During the spring of 2003, after repeated invitations from my pastor and a fellow parishioner, I finally responded reluctantly, “Fine, I’ll go.” What they were inviting me to do was simply attend an informational meeting about the diocese’s Lay Ministry Formation Program. In preparation for this meeting, I loaded myself up with a long mental list of reasons I was NOT going to actually apply for the program.

When I arrived at the meeting, there were about 30 others in attendance from various parishes in the area. The Director of the Ministry Formation Program, at that time, Fr. George Winzenburg, SJ, started with a brief introduction of himself and his Associate Director, Fr. Tom Lawler, SJ. He then asked each of us to introduce ourselves and to briefly share what parish we were from and a little about ourselves, such as our family, our work and our involvement in the parish. Next, he explained why we were specifically invited by our pastors — we were either in leadership positions in our parishes or our pastors saw us as future leaders. The presentation then proceeded with an overview of the program, the format of the sessions and the expectations.

Father Lawler brought up possible concerns, then he provided a reason each could be overcome. As he continued down his prepared list of concerns, I realized, his list was exactly the same list I had in my head. By the time he finished my questions were answered. I applied for the program.

What I didn’t know at the time was the history of the Lay Ministry Formation program in the diocese. In May 1971, some members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), submitted a proposal to then-Bishop Harold Dimmerling. It outlined a program of developing lay leaders among the Native Americans on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations. The proposal was based on a program recently approved by Bishop Robert Whalen of the Diocese of Fairbanks for the Eskimos. That program’s goal was to develop native clergy.

Once Bishop Dimmerling approved the program, Fathers John Hatcher, SJ, and Patrick McCorkell, SJ, began writing lessons for the projected three-year program. It wasn’t long before it became apparent, what was needed on the reservation, was a program for ordaining permanent deacons. The petition by the United States episcopal conference to the Vatican had been approved just a few years prior by Pope Paul VI, on August 30, 1968. On May 31, 1975, using the formation program developed by the Jesuits, Bishop Dimmerling ordained Steven Red Elk, Reno Richards, and Max Plank to the permanent diaconate. Deacons Red Elk and Richards were “the first Indian Permanent Deacons to be ordained in the United States.”

In 1990, the Permanent Diaconate Program was expanded to include lay ministry. The program began to offer formation for those who were called to be Pastoral Assistants, CCD coordinators, Directors of Youth Ministry, Directors of Care for the Elderly, Sick and Dying, Prayer leaders for Priestless Sundays and devotions, and other important ministry needs for the diocese.

If you are being called by the Holy Spirit to become a Lay Minister, don’t be like me and resist the invitation of the Holy Spirit. It can change your life, for the better.


Rock Bottom — the Social Justice Commission examines addiction, prison and suicide

Fr. Gary Ternes, Diocese of Sioux Falls

By Laurie Hallstrom

Who are the addicts, inmates, and suicides of today? They are our family and friends. They are the flesh of Christ as we are the flesh of Christ.

This was the message of the Diocese of Rapid City, Social Justice Commission 2018 Winter Workshop, “Rock Bottom, Addiction — Prison — Suicide,” held January 20, at Terra Sancta Retreat Center, Rapid City.

Several experts in these fields addressed aspects of the topics throughout the day.

Bishop Robert Gruss opened the conference with prayer, and reminded people, “Many solutions are connected to the life and dignity of the human person.” He then referred to Pope Francis’ messages that say the church needs to be close to people on a difficult journey, bringing them back to God.

Amy Julian, director of Family Life Ministries, an Ex Officio member of the Social Justice Committee and one of the organizers of the event, introduced the second speaker, Jim Kinyon, executive director of Catholic Social Services, Rapid City. He has concluded solutions to these problems are not going to come from the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. or even the state capital in Pierre.

“For young people ages 1-24 years old, suicide is the leading cause of death in South Dakota compared to the third leading cause of death nationally,” he said. He offered statistics saying in rural areas, with farming, fishing or forestry, rates are higher than in metropolitan areas.

Two of the hardest hit counties in the nation for deaths by suicide are in South Dakota — Corson, and Todd, according to statistics he drew from a state suicide surveillance report. He said depression and alcohol abuse are the strongest predictors of suicide.

“Our ministries need to step forward and say, ‘I know who you are — a child of God,’” said Kinyon.

Awareness and prevention training is available through Catholic Social Services, 605-348-6086, website

Attorney General for the State of South Dakota, Marty Jackley, spoke next; he advocates swift and certain consequences to stop drug abuse. He has a proposal for the state legislature: “It is to take every distribution and manufacturing penalty and change it so a judge, instead of sentencing up to 10 years, could sentence up to 15 years. The other component is mandatory minimum sentencing. We should have a system where the mandatory minimum is applied to the drug dealers if they are not willing to say where they got the drugs.”

His office has a website that links the public to treatment options, a call to action, awareness in schools, and an anonymous tip line — text 82257. He said 80 percent of the cases prosecuted in Minnehaha County (Sioux Falls) have a drug connection.

Jackley said the state law passed in 2012 mandating sudafederin cold medicine purchases be tracked through an electronic reporting system has virtually eliminated manufacturing in the state.

“If you don’t believe there is a (meth) epidemic go talk to any police officer. If we can reduce meth we are going to reduce violent crime and the effects on families,” he said. “Prevention and treatment are your best and cheapest options.” He concluded by saying he supports specialty courts like Drug Courts which monitor offenders very closely.

Dr. Michael Huot, Rapid City, has a specialty in pain management. “At the end of the day, addiction is when someone makes a choice, and they make that choice over and over again despite terrible things happening to them or their family,” he said.

Addiction is divided into two categories, substance addiction — the most common form is alcoholism and behavioral — the most common type is compulsive shopping, according to information provided by Huot. In 2016, 22 million Americans needed addition treatment and two million of those received it. It is not an uncommon problem, he added; half the population is affected by the actions of addicts.

“When people have addictions their brain slowly changes, neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to adapt) decreases and makes it harder and harder to kick it. They get hardwired,” he said. “The rewards-stimulus outweighs the long-term consequences.”

He showed a slide of a heroin-addicted brain beside an average person’s brain, noting 10 days after quitting there is very little brain activity, and 100 days after quitting there is more. As time goes on brain function improves and regular aerobic exercise can help increase brain activity, too.

Discussing risk factors, he said, “Adolescents are very vulnerable to addiction because their reward system develops faster than their cognitive center.” He posed the possibility of every high school student taking a drug test before chemicals affect their brain’s development and the outcome of their lives.

He cited a significant study of 17,000 adults on Adverse Childhood Experiences — physical or emotional abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, witnessing violence in the home, and a parent who is incarcerated or suffering from a mental illness. It found 40 percent of people answered two or more of the ACE questions positive; 12.5 percent answered four or more items positive. The study also showed health problems associated with the positive responses. The toxic stress in the home causes children to act out and is frequently misdiagnosed as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Doctor Huot explained efforts to help classroom teachers identify the difference.

Then he addressed opioid overdoses. In South Dakota, 57 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016. He said locally they have formed a multidisciplinary team to see who is prescribing pain medications. The team held a summit detailing how to prescribe, who is at risk, and how to prevent doctor shopping.

Doctor Huot said since the summit there is a downtrend in opioid prescriptions. “We should be putting as much money as we can in addiction treatment for long-term savings,” he said comparing the difference between a working person contributing to society versus one who is incarcerated or receiving financial aid,” he said

Relapses can happen in recovery, “We should not judge these people, but support them,” he said.


For the past 15 years, Fr. Gary Ternes has been in prison ministry for the Diocese of Sioux Falls. He has also worked in parish ministry and with patients with a mental health condition in Yankton.

The people he serves in prison are from every corner of S.D., and others who were arrested here. South Dakota has around 4,100 prisoners in several locations. Father Ternes contrasted that with North Dakota, which has a similar population, and 1,700 people in prison. He pointed out that Native Americans comprise less than 10 percent of the S.D., population, yet they are 30 percent of the male inmates and 50 percent of the female inmates.

Noting changing policies which have reduced the number of mental health patients, he drew a correlation between the decrease in patients and the increase in inmates. “In the 1960s we had 2,000 patients at the state mental hospital and 300-500 prison inmates. This year we have 4,100 prison inmates and 200 state mental patients.”

According to Father Ternes, the best guarantee for someone doing well after prison is having some support to go back into. “If you are in for more than a year it’s a pretty exceptional family that stays with you. Most of our folks don’t have many people left,” he said. “The real punishment of prison isn’t just the bad food or bad clothing. It isn’t just the rules and regulations. It’s separation from family and society.”

He said three programs are working well that can use volunteers.

Residents Encounter Christ is similar to the Teens Encounter Christ retreats. Another program that is very active in prisons is M2 (man-to-man) — or in Pierre, W2 (woman-to-woman) — a person from the community makes regular weekly or monthly visits. The third is the Alternatives to Violence Program. It’s a Quaker program active in many prisons. He said, “I can put you in touch with people who can train you in starting these programs.”

South Dakota Supreme Court Justice, Janine Kern, spoke on problem-solving courts in the state. In 2017 they served 467 people.

She became the state’s first drug prosecutor in 1988. In 1996 she was appointed a judge in the 7th Judicial Circuit in Rapid City. “I saw I was immersed in a sea of human suffering and need,” she said. “I was trying to deal with addicted people who were coming in front of me. From the bench, I could see addiction was enormously devastating to the community.”

A primary contributor was early onset alcoholism, including in the womb. “We need to do much more prevention for fetal alcohol syndrome and pregnancy abstinence. The second thing I saw was lack of a father figure and third the lack of a high school diploma. Anytime investment in abstinence, education and mentoring she said would make a difference. She cited statistics saying crime and imprisonment have grown exponentially in S.D. Between 1977-2013 the prison population increased more than 500 percent, higher than the national average.

Neither jail nor treatment alone work. Criminal justice reform began in Miami. It started with a judge, one treatment person and an attorney, 25 years ago. Faced with building two new prisons, Senate Bill 70 brought about criminal justice reform by funding specialty courts. The 2007 Northern Hills Drug Court was the first in the state. State specialty courts include Drug, DUI, Veterans, and soon will include a Mental Health Court.

She read a statement that said “Drug Courts are not soft on crime, they are smart on crime. … it is far more challenging to complete Drug Court than to complete a prison sentence.”

She said there is no better way for an addict to get clean. They see the judge and other team members every week and are held profoundly accountable. Specialty courts combine medical monitoring, support meetings, behavioral interventions, moral reasoning, new skills and strategies, and relapse prevention.

Kaye Haggerty of Allentown, Pa., spoke on her daughter’s drug treatment at Comunita Cenacolo. It is a Catholic community way of life that began in Italy, has expanded to Medjugorie and is getting started in the U.S. It was founded by Mother Elvira Petrozzi as a “School of Life.” It excludes modern technology and calls for manual labor and a great deal of prayer. It serves women ages 18-30 and men ages 18-40. Participants stay at least three years.

Ash Wednesday

Lent Reconciliation Schedule

Rapid City, Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Tuesday, February 20 — 6:30 pm (Night of Mercy)

Hot Springs, St. Anthony of Padua, Tuesday, February 27 — 6:30 pm
Ft Pierre, St. John the Evangelist, Tuesday, February 27  — 6:30 pm CT

Presho, Christ the King, Thursday March 1 — 6 pm CT

Lemmon, St. Mary, Sunday, March 4 — 7 pm
Sturgis, St. Francis, Sunday March 4 — 1:30 pm

Keystone, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Monday, March 5 — 5 pm
Bison, Blessed Sacrament, Monday, March 5 — 7 pm
Hill City, St. Rose of Lima, Monday March 5 — 7:30 pm

Custer, St. John the Baptist, Tuesday, March 6 — 6:30 pm

Piedmont, Our Lady of the Black Hills, Wednesday, March 7 — 6:30 pm

Newell, St. Mary Star of the Sea, Thursday March 8 — 6:30 pm
Bonesteel, Immaculate Conception, Thursday, March 8 — 7 pm CT

Lead, St. Patrick, Sunday March 11 — 2pm

Rapid City, Blessed Sacrament, Monday, March 12 — 6:30 pm
Belle Fourche, St. Paul, Monday, March 12 – 7 pm
Buffalo, St. Anthony, Monday, March 12 — 7 pm
Timber Lake, Holy Cross, Monday, March 12— 7 pm

Colome, St. Isaidore, Tuesday, March 13 — 5 pm CT
Murdo, St. Martin of Tours, Tuesday March 13 — 6 pm CT
Rapid City, St. Therese the Little Flower, Tuesday, March 13 — 6:30 pm
Isabel, St. Mary, Tuesday, March 13— 7 pm

Rapid City, St. Isaac Jogues, Thursday March 15 — 6:30 pm
Gregory, St. Joseph, Thursday March 15 — 7 pm CT

McIntosh, St. Bonaventure, Thursday, March 22 — 7 pm
Winner, Immaculate Conception, Thursday, March 22 — 7 pm CT

Faith, St. Jospeh, Sunday, March 25 — 7 pm

McLaughlin, St. Bernard, Monday, March 26 — 7 pm
Spearfish, St. Joseph, Monday March 26 — 7 pm

Fr. Mark’s Musings

Employment Opportunity: Administrative Assistant – Pastoral Ministries/Faith Formation

Applications are being accepted for the full time (40 hours per week) position of Administrative Assistant for the Director of Pastoral Ministries & the Office of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Rapid City.

To provide support for the Director of Pastoral Ministries & the Office of Faith Formation                                                                                   

Practicing Catholic. High School Diploma, some post-secondary education preferred. Highly organized, with a heart for ministry and a love for the mission of the Church. Generous hospitality, excellent communication skills, knowledge of the Catholic Faith and experience in formation ministries. Excellent event organization skills. Above average administrative and computer skills, especially in Microsoft Office, with a high degree of confidentiality. Self-directed with an ability to multi-task in a dynamic and collaborative work environment. Available for some evening and weekend work.

Click here for an application.

Interested individuals should send a resumé and letter by e-mail or postal mail listing three professional references along with a completed application to
Office of the Chancellor
Diocese of Rapid City
606 Cathedral Drive Rapid City SD 57701 


There’s an urgency to the work of the S.D.Catholic Conference

When Bishop Paul Swain and Bishop Robert Gruss asked me to begin the South Dakota Catholic Conference this last fall, the Rushmore State joined 43 other states — including our Midwest and mountain neighbors — that already have Catholic conferences. The mission of the Catholic Conference, in a nutshell, is to serve as the church’s institutional ambassador to the public square, keeping the bishops of South Dakota informed on lawmaking, administrative rulemaking, and judicial action at the state and federal level, and to serve as a platform for them to exercise their voice when, as happens with increasing frequency, issues arise in the civic arena that bear on the church’s social and moral teachings.

As our nation’s First Amendment recognizes, religious faith has a vital role to play in the health of our Republic, and the Catholic Conference is an initiative that will ensure that the church has a voice on behalf of the common good.

Elsewhere in the nation, historically, a large wave of state Catholic conferences were born in the immediate wake of the Second Vatican Council, and state-by-state additions have been steady in the intervening decades. The council has been described by some as a “missionary council,” and I think this is important to consider in connection with the birth and growth of Catholic conferences in the post-conciliar decades. They are, in a certain sense, instruments serving the church’s missionary mandate. While my work is focused on the nuts-and-bolts of policy, on being a resource to legislators and citizens alike, there really is a missionary flavor to it, a sense that it’s one way in which the church can be a light to the nations. The New Evangelization at the capitol.

Further, there’s an urgency to the work of the Catholic Conference as a response to the signs of the times. Pope Francis, in his beautiful exhortation Evangelii Guadium, points out that “the process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the church to the sphere of the private.” We can certainly attest to this trend in our country. On the contrary, Pope Francis reminds us, “responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.” As the U.S. bishops tell us in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, “the church’s obligation to participate in shaping the moral character of society is a requirement of our faith.” There are no benchwarmers on our team, and we can’t leave our faith on the sidelines.

So, at root, the fundamental purpose of the Catholic Conference is to spread forth before our fellow citizens in the public square the banquet of the church’s beautiful teachings as a witness to the truth that sets us free, and I hope to equip you to do the same. This banquet, to be clear, is not a list of “No-no’s,” a terse recitation of prohibitions. Rather, it’s a vision for the fullness of life. As the Holy Father puts it, the “Church’s social thought is primarily positive: it offers proposals, it works for change and in this sense it constantly points to the hope born of the loving heart of Jesus Christ.” The dignity of the human person and respect for the family, the sanctity of life, religious freedom — all of the issues that form a firm foundation for a just society — to propose these truths is to propose a feast!

As this article goes to press, our neighbors who serve us as elected legislators are gathered in Pierre to do the heavy-lifting of political governance. They’ll engage with one another on a host of issues of importance to our common life as citizens. For their service, we thank them.

It will be my task to track legislation under consideration and to highlight for you those bills that might most benefit from a reading with the church’s social and moral teaching. Visit to stay up-to-date on what’s happening during the legislative session, and if you’re not sure who your district’s Senator and House Representatives are, I encourage you to learn.If you’d like to receive email alerts or provide feedback, send me a note through the website.

Lastly, thank you for your prayers on behalf of our elected leaders and the Catholic Conference.


Eileen Sullivan Rotert, 76, former WRC editor

Mary Eileen Sullivan Rotert, age 76, passed away on January 16 at Maple Crest Care Centre, Belvidere, Ill. She was formerly of Lemmon, Rapid City and Sturgis. She was cremated and a Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Mary Catholic Church, Lemmon at a later date, and burial will follow at Greenhill Cemetery also in Lemmon.

Eileen Sullivan was born on May 31, 1941, to John L. and Marguerite M. (Klinkhammer) Sullivan. She graduated from Lemmon High School and Black Hills State College in Spearfish. On August 3, 1959, Eileen married James A. Rotert at St. Mary Catholic Church in Lemmon; they had four children.

Eileen spent most of her working life in journalism. Before retiring in 2004, she served as the editor of the West River Catholic newspaper for the Diocese of Rapid City. She earned a number of journalism awards, especially for her writing about women in the church. Eileen was an Associate of the Sisters of the Holy Family.

After retirement, Eileen left her beloved South Dakota to be closer to her children and lived in Florissant, Mo., and Rockford, Ill. She maintained her love of learning and her passion for nature throughout her life. Her grandchildren were her greatest joy.

Eileen leaves, to cherish her memory, her four children, daughters: Barbara Bennett, Michelle Rotert, and Catherine Sylve all of Illinois and one son: Patrick Rotert of Spearfish; their families; three siblings, Joe Sullivan of Ottawa, Ill, Jim Sullivan of Mandan, N.D., and Patricia Fletcher of Chicago, Ill; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and lifelong friends. She is predeceased by her parents and her former husband.

Memorials may be made to the National Audubon Society at