By Fr. Michel Mulloy
The Living the Mission Campaign continues to move forward thanks to the hard work of our pastors, their volunteers and our consultants from Community Counseling Services. As of January 7, we have received pledges totaling $4,426,807.90, about one third of the campaign goal of $12,000,000.
The pilot phase, which involved the parish clusters of Presho, Murdo and Draper, Martin and Kadoka and Lead and Deadwood was completed before Christmas. Four of those parishes exceeded their goals and the remaining three parishes reached approximately 68 percent of their goals. The pilot phase afforded Community Counseling Services some valuable information and lessons about conducting a campaign in our diocese and prepared them for the rest of the process. CCS chairman Will Wisner said, “It has truly been a joy to be part of the Living the Mission Campaign. The sense of identity and pride in South Dakota is something special and that has made the success possible that we’ve seen throughout the campaign to date. In any diocesan campaign, success is built through the efforts of the volunteers in the individual parishes. The geographical size and population density that make this campaign unique make the efforts of these volunteers even more critical. We could not be any prouder of the lay leaders and pastors who we have worked with so far.”
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Perceptual Help parish also began the Living the Mission Campaign this summer. However, in addition to their support of the diocesan campaign they are also doing their own campaign raising additional funds from within their parish to build a new parish hall. Their efforts will continue for a few more months.
Currently, 23 parishes throughout the diocese are part of Block One working on the campaign. In February, the final group of 37 parishes will begin their efforts. The priests and lay volunteers have spoken favorably about the support they have received from the CCS team working with them on the campaign.
Conducting a capital campaign is a challenge. In both small and large parishes however, priests and parishioners have responded to this invitation to live the mission of Jesus Christ. Father Kerry Prendiville said, “I have lived all my life in the Diocese of Rapid City and I’ve enjoyed the churches built by the generations before me. I see how my desire to take up the mission of Jesus Christ builds upon the faith lives of my grandparents and parents. I’m planting a tree knowing that a harvest of intentional disciples will one day stand in its shade.”
Building a legacy of faith and a legacy of giving is what the Living the Mission Campaign is all about. Lisa Meyer from Presho said that well. “I gave to the campaign to support the bishop’s mission of spreading the Gospel in the diocese. I could see the importance of improving efficiency for the bishop and his staff with a new office building, and I wanted to help the Catholic schools keep costs down.”
The five priorities of the campaign are all important to the diocese, that is, to each one of us. One or the other may not impact a given parish or parishioner to the same degree as it does another but to be a Catholic in western South Dakota means that we belong to one another — one body of Christ. We are part of a family of faith and together we are called to attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim and live the mission of Jesus Christ.
If ministry to the Native American Catholics improves, that is a blessing for all of us; if the Catholic schools in Rapid City can operate more effectively, that is a gift to everyone in the diocese; if the diocesan offices in Rapid City can work more efficiently, it is positive for the whole diocese. If the priests of the diocese can be assured of a secure retirement, this too, will be a gift to every parish in the diocese.
Judy Javersak from Lead said it this way. “Through Living the Mission, we were all invited to participate in our larger (diocesan) family. As members of parishes within the diocese we could contribute to the needs of all in the diocese. Our individual parishes also benefited from our gifts. The diocese is working to be good stewards of the gifts we give. Much thought and research went in to determine what was needed and locally parishioners worked together to present the program to their peers. I liked the individual response. All gifts were received with gratitude and goals were exceeded. Mother Teresa said, ‘It is not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.’ I gave out of love for God and my neighbor. Through the program many lives are going to be touched.”
Sharing our gifts with one another and working together to continue the mission of Jesus is the call of every Catholic in our diocese.
If your parish has completed the campaign, we are deeply grateful for your gift. If your parish is currently engaged in the campaign, offer your assistance and be pleased to receive the call from the volunteer who is working on your parish campaign. Ask your questions and listen to the response. Most importantly, prayerfully consider being a part of this great mission for our diocese at this time in our history. If your parish has yet to begin, be willing to participate, knowing that your help and your gifts will make a difference — helping all of us to Live the Mission of Jesus Christ in our diocese.
Prayer is the most important ingredient in this campaign. So regardless of where your parish is in this important process, please keep the Living the Mission campaign in your daily prayers, asking the Lord to bless this diocese in great abundance so that we as the body of Christ may continue the work of our Master.
I had a blessed surprise right before Christmas. I was celebrating Mass at St. Thomas More Middle/High School and three young adults, STM alumni home from college, came to Mass several days in a row at 7:15 a.m.
I was not expecting this, especially given the recent crisis in our church. The constant barrage of news stories about sexual abuse by even high-ranking clergy, and how some bishops have mishandled the repeated allegations of abuse, have caused many to question both the church and her leaders’ ability to shepherd and lead.
To see three young college students home for Christmas break and at daily Mass roused in my heart a sense of hope and joy. I shared with them what seeing them at daily Mass did for my heart.
I asked them what it is like to be a believing, practicing young adult Catholic at this challenging moment in the church. All three shared that this has been a difficult time for them. Madison Feist said it has been hard to accept but, at the same time, she is grateful that the church is accepting the reality of the past and wants to make things better.
Corbin Olson has found his own faith being tested and Dillon Johnson continues to pray for clarity in the church. He added, “The Eucharist gives me the strength to continue defending our Catholic faith, even in times of trial.”
In fact, all three shared with me that it is their love of the Eucharist that brings them to Mass.
“In the Eucharist, I am united with Jesus who brings me eternal joy. The Eucharist unites the world together, and when I receive the Eucharist, I think of family members, friends, faculty and all the people who have impacted my faith journey. Mass unites me to my foundation in Christ,” Madison said.
Corbin added, “Christ’s light will always shine. I find myself looking for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour to spend with our Savior in adoration, and I push myself to attend daily Mass because, in all of this, I am searching for his light. God is ever-present, but he is waiting for us to accept him into our lives. I have realized in the past couple of months that I have to make an effort to call on him in the easiest and most difficult of times. We must be willing to put absolute faith and trust in him.”
As I visited with these three young adults who are practicing their faith in these trying times in our church, my heart was drawn to our seminarians: What is it like to be in the seminary at this moment in time?
Max Vetch, a sophomore at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, shared, “It is a strange thing to hear about these cases on the news or from other seminarians from their diocese, but it all kind of changes when it is from your own diocese. I am just as confused and angry as everyone else is. What is most frustrating is that these things happen in almost every diocese.
“At the seminary, we are very aware of everything going on, even if we turn off the news and don’t look at social media. The faculty at IHM is very focused on making good, holy men, and this can only be done through a good awareness of self and the world around us.
“So we visit about these things — both my brother seminarians and the faculty. We discuss it so that we can grow in holiness. Many people would think that these cases are a deterrent from the seminary, but for the men at IHM, I haven’t seen that at all. The seminarians at IHM are there to discern a vocation given them by God, and no problem or scandal can take that calling away.”
Robert Kinyon, a first-year theologian at the Pontifical North American College in Rome told me, “The recent sexual abuse crisis has been deeply saddening. On a number of different occasions, it has shaken my trust in the church, especially those who are in particularly authoritative positions.
“Despite all the disheartening and frustrating news, Jesus Christ remains the same. He is still laboring to love me during every moment of every day. Jesus, the head, has not and will not abandon his body, the church.
“I am continuing my formation for priesthood because Jesus Christ continues to lavish his love upon me and his entire church, as broken and wounded as we may be. Before all else, we must tear open our hearts to receive an outpouring of his personal love.”
Father Paul Hoesing, dean of seminarians and director of human formation at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, shared with me his perception of the climate of seminary life at this time.
“I believe a very healthy, righteous anger has been awakened in these scandals. As a result, there has been no better time to address the tough issues of mental health, chastity and psycho-sexual development.
“The scandals reveal what is at stake. Only a truly healthy priest can serve the people of God. The people of God are weary. They deserve good shepherds.
“The scandals reveal the need for a truly spousal life on the part of the priest — priests who are willing to lay down their lives for their bride, the church. Otherwise, the priesthood is seen as a strange or dangerous bachelorhood.
“I see our young men eager to move into a new and vigorous courage in this regard. For the sake of the victims and the bride, the church, the men are responding with a new level of honesty and generosity in answering the question, ‘Where is your heart?’
“It’s been a privilege to witness the Spirit at work in this opportune moment for young men to respond more clearly and maturely.”
Despite the difficulties in our Catholic Church today, the faith is alive in the hearts of our young people and in young men studying for the priesthood, which should renew all of our hearts.
I am grateful for this early Christmas gift I received in the witness of Madison, Dillon and Corbin, our seminarians, Max and Robert, and the hopeful and challenging words of Father Hoesing.
Many of us in the Diocese of Rapid City have the privilege of celebrating Mass each weekend and Holy Day of Obligation. However for some who are home bound this is not possible. The Diocese of Rapid City records Holy Day of Obligation evening Mass for the Holy Days and post it the next day […]
Enjoy the December edition of the West River Catholic
“All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, my two front teeth, just my two front teeth. Gee, if I could only have my two front teeth, then I could wish you Merry Christmas.”
I would suspect that this little catchy tune would be familiar, at least to people my age. I clearly remember singing this as a little boy. Perhaps it may have been because I didn’t have two front teeth at the time. I don’t recall for sure.
This time of the year, as kids, we would also scour the JCPenney and Sears catalogs for what we really wanted for Christmas — making a list, checking it twice and then turning it over to our parents with the hopes that some of these dreams might come true. This was the season of Advent for us — preparing for the celebration of Christmas. I would suspect that it is what most children have done, at least back then.
We are only about a week from Christmas. How have we spent this season getting in touch with our true hopes, our dreams and desires that only the Lord can fulfill? What have we been letting the Lord do with us during this Advent season? Now that we are this close, what do we really want for Christmas? For most of us, we don’t need more material things. They just become luxuries — things that possess us — not to mention obstacles to a deeper faith and freedom. We don’t need things that bolster the consumeristic and materialistic culture. It is a shallow life!
My Christmas gift list is long. I want a deeper life in Christ. In other words, the “more” that he desires to give me. For Christmas I want Jesus to always be my deepest desire. I want a faith that can move mountains, literally. I want Christ’s message of love and peace, mercy and hope to penetrate my own heart and the hearts of all the people across the diocese entrusted to my care.
For Christmas, I want a new and purified church — one of openness, honesty, accountability and transparency. I want deep healing for all victims of sexual abuse, especially those harmed by clergy, that they will experience the healing love of Christ.
I want our young people to seek and discover the Lord’s vocation for their lives, leading to more priests and women religious in our diocese, but ultimately, leading to true happiness.
I want the Father to give this diocese a new Pentecost where the Holy Spirit enkindles the fire of his love anew in the hearts of all people of faith.
I want the New Evangelization to come alive so that our efforts will attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim and live the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.
For Christmas, I want the many, many Catholics who have left the church to return and be welcomed into the Father’s arms of mercy and love.
I desire a world filled with peace, where all strangers are welcomed and the life of each person is not only valued, but treasured; where respect and civility in our public and private discourse is the rule of the day; where religious freedom is completely restored as God meant it to be.
What a Christmas list! There’s more! The list could easily go on. People of faith know in the depth of their hearts that, in the end, the first Christmas has become the answer.
Christmas is the celebration of God coming into the world in his incarnate Son so that we no longer have to let the things of this world possess us. Christmas is God’s entrance into human history in a tangible way so that we can be possessed by him. When we fully embrace the meaning of Christmas, God becoming man restores the proper order of our human desires, and the world is transformed back into its original condition. The world becomes as it was meant to be. We become as we have been created to be. Our eyes are opened to God’s view of reality. What a gift for which to pray!
When this happens, we will love like Christ; we will bring peace to the world like Christ; differences will be reconciled; the suffering and lowly will be raised up; and a world divided by sin and death will be restored by hope and resurrection. What a gift for which to pray!
In the words of Pope Benedict, “Christmas has become the feast of gifts in imitation of God who has given himself to us. Let us allow our heart, our soul, and our mind to be touched by this fact!”
Let us all put this on our Christmas gift list this year and pray that our hearts will be open to receive it. Be assured of my prayers for you and your families. May your Christmas be filled with every grace and blessing!
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Rapid City, SD 57701
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