Pastoral Ministry Days 2020

In this Year of the Eucharist, we are excited for this great opportunity to grow in our understanding and love for the Eucharist.  Our keynote speaker, Deacon James Keating, is the Director of Theological Formation at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska.  Dcn. Keating has delivered over 700 workshops and lectures internationally, authored over 100 essays and 12 books, including co-authoring “The Way of Mystery: Eucharist and Moral Living.”

Keynote Speaker
Deacon James Keating

The conference officially begins on Monday morning, March 30, and ends the afternoon of the 31, but we’ll have a Holy Hour and hospitality on Sunday evening, March 29, for anyone who can join us, along with an opportunity for early check-in.

We encourage everyone to register online, if possible, for purposes of accuracy of information, but if you are unable, you can also register by calling the Terra Sancta Retreat Center at 605-716-0925, and they can register you over the phone.

If you have questions, or would like more information, feel free to contact Dionne Eastmo ( or myself ( at 605-716-5214.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Click here to see a full schedule

Fill out my online form.

The Eucharistic Prayer is prayed to God the Father

(This is the third in a series of columns on the Eucharistic Prayer. To understand fully this text, refer to the November and December issues of the WRC.)

The Eucharistic Prayer is prayed to God the Father. The priest and people together who are Christ present, confess the great deeds of God and join Christ in offering the sacrifice (GIRM 78).

After the opening dialogue the priest prays the preface. There are many prefaces that can be interchanged with three of the Eucharistic Prayers. In each preface the priest remembers some aspect of God’s great deeds. The deeds of God mentioned are tied to the feast we celebrate or are more general in nature. The preface prayed invites the assembly to be grateful for what God has done for us.

The Holy, Holy, Holy follows. This is one of three times we offer acclamation. The other two are the Memorial Acclamation and the Great Amen at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer. We raise our voice in a shout of gladness and praise. Ideally the acclamations are sung. Song elevates the spoken word. Just before the Holy, Holy, Holy the priest prays that “we join the angels and saints …” We believe that our Mass on earth is modeled on the eternal heavenly liturgy. When we sing the acclamations, we are literally joining the song of the saints and angels in heaven.

The mention of the great deeds of God continues after the Holy, Holy, Holy in Eucharistic Prayers two, three and four. (Eucharistic Prayer One has all the elements of the other Eucharistic Prayers but they are arranged differently. A separate column would be necessary to explain the structure of Eucharistic Prayer One.)

This expression of thanksgiving gives way to the epiclesis. This is a Greek word which means invocation. Having thanked God for his great deeds, we ask him to send his Holy Spirit to change the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. We do this with great confidence because we have recalled God’s love for us in his great deeds and we know in faith that he wants to give us all that is good for us.

We also pray in confidence because we know in faith that God’s greatest gift to us was his Son’s life, death and resurrection. Jesus gave us his body and blood at the Last Supper and as we prepare to remember with gratitude that moment in Jesus’ life, we join Christ present in invoking the Spirit.

What follows then is the institution narrative and the consecration. Through the agency of the priest who is Christ present leading the body of Christ the church, the Holy Spirit transforms the bread and wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. In this moment we are remembering what Jesus did for us, we are fulfilling his command to “do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19), and we are confessing once again the great deeds of God in his Son Jesus. This moment is amazing and all that has gone before in the Mass as a whole and the Eucharistic Prayer in particular, prepares us for the consecration.

All that comes after flows from this moment as well. What more can we do than once again, offer an acclamation, a song of joy and hope for what God has done in Jesus and will continue to do until the end time. Our adoration of Christ present leads us to a song of remembrance and praise in the Memorial Acclamation.

The Eucharistic Prayer continues with the anamnesis, oblation and another epiclesis. Anamnesis is another Greek word that means remembering. Just after the Memorial Acclamation, we pray remembering that Christ not only died but also rose from the dead and ascended. This moment in the Eucharistic Prayer completes the command of Jesus to remember what he did for us.

This remembering leads us to make an offering or oblation to God the Father. This is the true offertory of the Mass. We are invited to join the priest’s prayer of offering Christ, who is present with us, to God the Father and ourselves with him (GIRM78). Participating in this offering of the sacrifice is the obligation that church asks of us. We are to join Christ in his sacrifice of himself to the Father. This is a marvelous moment of deep humility and joyous hope. Joined to Christ, we go to God the Father by God’s gracious design. The hope of our eternal salvation is bound up and given its fullest expression in this prayer which often goes unnoticed without this proper understanding.

During this offering of the sacrifice, we turn again to invocation. We ask that the Holy Spirit transform us too. We ask to become one body and one spirit in Christ, to be made one. The presence of Christ invites us almost immediately into a relationship with one another. As we are one with God the Father through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, so may we be with one another.

‘Bless you in your 2020 yellow-brick-road journey’

My first conscious awareness of 2020 was the song, “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” No kidding. I woke up with that song running through my head. There was Dorothy in her ruby slippers, skipping down the yellow brick road with her three companions. I dressed and skipped (no, not really) to the chapel for my morning routine of prayer.

At first, I wondered if this wizard song had anything to do with my impending visit to Rome. True, I do have “new slippers” in the form of a new cassock. I am excited to meet Pope Francis, but not because I want something. Rather, I hope to listen to his wisdom and experience and that of the various leaders of the Vatican offices to learn and grown in my own ministry. Rome is not emerald, but rather more of a mixture of stony white and various shades of tan, orange and dirty pink.

I quickly dismissed these ideas as misguided, but as the song persisted in my head, I contemplated further the image of these four wandering misfits on the yellow brick road. Nothing in life is coincidental.  God speaks to us in many ways if we have expectant faith.

Dorothy and her companions wanted a brain, a heart and courage, along with a return to Kansas. More deeply, the travelers wanted 1) to see clearly and understand, 2) to feel deeply and know love, 3) to have the willingness and resolve to act, and 4) to find the way home. In this first prayer of 2020, I examined my own need for renewal as I pondered these four desires.

Like the scarecrow, I want a brain that understands. I want to see clearly and to know what it is that God wants for me and from me. A significant dimension of the spiritual journey is understanding. Understanding by itself is insufficient, but it is, at the same time, essential. How often have you wanted to understand and did not, or had a moment when suddenly you did understand and then felt rather foolish about having missed the point? God wants us to understand. God wants us to see with the kind of clarity that will propel us into a relationship with him and with one another.

Like the tin man, I want to feel deeply and to love. My heart can be filled with bitterness, anger and envy. I can hold grudges in a self-righteous determination to “get my way.” I suspect you might identify with that smallness of heart that leaves us shriveled and stingy and lonely. Do you want something more? I want to reflect more deeply, to open my heart more honestly. I want to feel the hurt and release my pain into the eternal embrace of God’s gracious love and experience that love which flows from God’s heart into ours. I want to open my heart to the depth of God and discover in me the ability to love as God loves.

Like the cowardly lion, I also want to have the courage to act, to do something, but only with and through that understanding and selfless love of God. Do you find yourself fearful and trembling, at least inside, not knowing if and when and how you should do something? Or do you find yourself charging in without a clear understanding or a genuine compassion, only to be ashamed of your thoughtless and uncaring comment or action? I want to have genuine courage and to speak the truth with deep kindness in a way that calls both me and the other to a new response.

Finally, and above all, I share Dorothy’s desire to go home. I really do want to be in heaven when my yellow-brick-road journey is complete. My deep longing to be an understanding, loving, courageous disciple is rooted in the ultimate goal of life with God. Do you find yourself longing for that kind of peace and security that is never ending, to be cherished for being you? Heaven is our true home and I want to live my life in response to God’s gracious invitation to live with him so that I can find a new and glorious home — not the Emerald City, but the heavenly Jerusalem.

So, 2020 has begun. We in the Diocese of Rapid City are mostly likely off to meet, not a wizard but a new bishop. When that will be, I don’t know. In the meantime, as we travel down the road, I pray that you will receive the gift of understanding to know and see what it is that God desires for you. I will pray that you will receive a heart of overflowing love that will allow you to meet each person with kindness and truth. I will pray that you will, with understanding and love, have the courage to live your discipleship in the Lord Jesus and make the choices that make a difference in our small corner of the world. Above all, I pray that your desire for our heavenly home will increase and that all we say and do will be led by that desire to be with God now and forever. I would ask you to do the same for me.

Thank you and God bless you in your 2020 yellow-brick-road journey.

Building a lively culture of vocations in families

One of my desires for this new year is to work more closely with parents in building a lively culture of vocations in their family life. My hope is to encourage parents to have more intentional conversations with their children on how God continues to call each one of their children to a life of holiness, filled with the grace and power of Jesus in the Holy Spirit. 

These types of conversations are only effective if they are rooted in a life of prayer. Prayer opens the hearts of parents and their children to hear the voice of Jesus who says in Mt 4:19, “Come, follow me.”

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all of our children had the support they needed to truly discern their vocation, whether it would be marriage, priesthood, consecrated life or the single life, with dad and mom taking the lead?

From my experience, a majority of our young people simply assume that marriage is their vocation without praying or having intentional conversations with mom and dad about the possibility God is calling them to anything else.

Father Brett Brannen, a vocation director and former seminary rector, wrote a book titled “A Priest in the Family: A Guide for Parents Whose Sons are Considering Priesthood.” He wrote it because he encountered in his ministry so many seminarians and priests who shared that a parent or family member actively tried to talk them out of becoming a priest. 

He would often say to young men: “Would you like to become a priest?” Usually the answer was: “I don’t think so, Father.”

Then he would say, “But would you become a priest if Jesus asked you to?” And the answer is always the same: “Yes, Father, if Jesus asks me to become a priest, I will do it.”

Therefore, part of the challenge is to help our parents and children encounter the presence of Christ and to begin to hear his voice together. In this way we can begin to combat the challenge Father Brannen identifies; namely that many young people don’t consider a religious vocation because they don’t hear Jesus’ invitation.

Having families listen together also addresses another equally serious challenge. Year after year, in surveys of newly ordained priests, over half report that their families opposed the idea of priesthood when they first expressed interest.

One of the reasons is that priesthood does not fit a parent’s vision of the good life for their children. Parents, too, need to hear the reassuring voice of Jesus reminding them that he loves their children, too, and only wants the best for them.

As I begin this new year with the desire to work more intentionally with parents, I thought sharing these Six Vocation Mythbusters for Parents from Vianney Vocations would be a good beginning:

Parents, please make a commitment during 2020 to be open to the possibility that your children might have a calling to the priesthood or religious life. Consider that such a calling is part of God’s plan for them — a plan that needs your nurturing and support.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me for ideas on how you can help your children discern their vocations. I look forward to working with you in providing them with the guidance they need.

Vocations Myths Busted

MYTH #1 “He’s too young”

Many parents, when their young son expresses an interest in seminary, will dispense well-meaning advice: “Get some life experience first — and at least a college degree — then think about seminary later.”

Mom and dad envision that with a nice girlfriend and a good job; the idea of priesthood will fade away. The problem is, they may be right. That’s why it’s crucial that when God moves the heart of a young man to explore the priesthood, parents should trust God that the timing may be right.

True, in some cases an 18-year-old may not be mature enough to enter seminary right out of high school. But many are ready. College seminaries are places of joy, camaraderie and deep spiritual growth.

Even if your son goes to college seminary and eventually discerns he is not called to priesthood, don’t think he’ll have to “make up for lost time.” Thousands of former seminarians look back on their seminary days with great affection and gratitude!

MYTH #2 “He’ll be so lonely”

This is an easy myth to dispel. Priests are surrounded by people! After all, their job is to bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus. They are continually working with parish staff, youth and a myriad of people who come to them for spiritual advice.

Seminaries are very deliberate in teaching men how to form good, healthy relationships with people in their parishes and the priests of their dioceses. Sure, there can be lonely moments — but the same is true in any vocation, including marriage. Most priests have healthy friendships with brother priests, lay people and family that keep them grounded and connected.

MYTH #3 “Celibacy is impossible”

For couples who enjoy a healthy sexual relationship, it can be difficult to imagine their son choosing “life without a wife.” Society would have us believe that celibacy is impossible or, at the very least, unreasonable.

The truth is that sexual love is indeed one of God’s greatest natural gifts, but that thousands of saints have experienced tremendous joy living the supernatural vocation of celibacy. Seminaries offer superb formation in how to live celibately with peace and joy.

MYTH #4 “I won’t have grandchildren”

When a mother of a priest was asked at her only child’s ordination if she was sad she would never have grandchildren, she responded, “It’s not about me.” She was simply grateful that her son had found God’s will for his life.

Many parents of priests are surprised to find that they gain “spiritual grandchildren” — thousands of people whose lives have been profoundly influenced by their son’s priesthood. There is a special joy in meeting people who exclaim, “You’re Fr. Jacob’s mother? He’s such a great priest!”

MYTH #5 “I’ll lose my son”

Some parents think that if their son becomes a priest, they’ll never see him. One young priest laughed at this idea: “When Thanksgiving rolls around and my brothers and sisters are busy with their children and in-laws, guess what? As a priest, I don’t have any of those ties. It’s me carving the turkey with mom and dad!”

His point is that diocesan priests are able to spend a healthy amount of time with family. If the priest’s assignment is far from home, in the Internet age, social media and Skype make it easy to keep in touch.

MYTH #6 “He’ll be unhappy”

This is the “umbrella fear” that encompasses all the others. It’s also the easiest to dismiss, because the facts prove otherwise. A number of studies about happiness invariably find one profession ranked number one: clergy.

There is a recent book, based on a very large study, titled “Why Priests Are Happy.” The author, Msgr. Stephen Rosetti, finds that 92% of priests report being happy, and that the key factor in this happiness is an “inner peace.”

Clear vision for the diocesan archives


Preserving a Catholic Community By Kathy Cordes, Diocesan Archivist

(Writer’s note: These firsts do not encompass the of history of the five Indian Reservations in the Diocese of Rapid City.)

History will be made in 2020 with the first Catholic Pastoral Center in our diocese. Following are lists of the firsts we have recorded. Unfortunately, the claims for these firsts are not well documented and many dates contradict one another. These make for interesting history discussions. We would love for someone to say — “hey, wait a minute our marriage was the first recorded in …” and then we could record it as the diocesan’s firsts.  

From the Dakotas to New Dakota Territory to Lead City to Diocese of Lead City and finally, to the Diocese of Rapid City – The recorded first priest, diocesan or religious order; the first Mass, low or high Mass; first church (framed, wooden or structure).

The first West River Catholic issue was published in May 1973. Publisher: Bishop Harold J. Dimmerling, Editor: Fr. William J. O’Connell. The diocesan cathedral was dedicated on May 7, 1963. Ten years later to the day the first issue was published. It was “to serve as reminder to everyone that the Blessed Virgin plays an important part in our spiritual life.”

The first Mass in Rapid City was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1883 by Rapid City’s first resident pastor, Rev. Alfred Vigeant in the first church of any denomination to be built in the new town. St. Mary Catholic Church (framed) was constructed beginning in 1881. -Excerpt from Rapid City in Retrospect, published 1982.  

The first resident Jesuit Catholic priest in 1876 was Father Bernard Mackin, SJ. He was reportedly the first priest buried in St. Ambrose Cemetery. Interestingly enough, the first cemetery – St. Ambrose, the Catholic section (also called Mount Moriah) was established in Deadwood in the early 1880s. -St. Ambrose Parish 100th Anniversary booklet 1877-1977.

St. Ambrose was the first Catholic church in our diocese. Fr. John Lonergan presided at the first public low Mass in Deadwood on May 20, 1877. -The Black Hills Daily Times, Dakota Territory, 1877.

The first Mass reportedly was said in Kendall, Dakota Territory, in 1683 by a French missionary priest. Among the fur traders, he paused to say Mass for any group he came across. -Typewritten statement, author unknown. 

The first Spanish speaking missionary, Rev. Pedro Morante, was in charge of the Spanish mission people in the Black Hills. 

The first grammar school was named St. Martin Academy in honor of Bishop Martin Marty.

The first hospital, St. Edward Hospital was opened 1878 in Deadwood and staffed by Sisters of the Holy Cross. 

“In order to make this (these firsts) as interesting as possible I would appreciate any news clippings, photos, written historical remembrances that parishioners might have which would help tell the history of our diocese.” Fr. Eugene Szalay, May 1973, wrote in the first column “Heritage In the Faith” published in first West River Catholic newspaper. 

The well-known mantra of all archivists as reiterated in Fr. Szalay’s message above, of yesteryear and for the future, we must preserve and report history and send it to the archives! 

St. Joseph School in Gregory formed a rhythm band which made its first public appearing in Gregory May 2, 1929. — Dedication booklet, 1969 St. Joseph Parish

January 2020 — Diocesan Pastoral Center

January 21, 2020

January 9, 2020

Pastoral Center Updates

The new Pastoral Center is undergoing renovations to transform the former Black Hills Federal Credit Union building into a diocesan administrative home. The Diocese of Rapid City invites individuals and families to tour the new Pastoral Center facilities during the remodeling phase.

Tours will be conducted the third Friday each month from 3-6 p.m. until the construction is completed. The new Pastoral Center is located at 225 Main St., in Rapid City next to the Creamery Mall, between 2nd and 3rd streets downtown. City. Those taking a tour are asked park in front of the building on Main Street.

For more information, contact Todd Tobin at the Diocese of Rapid City at 605-343-3541.

January 21, 2020
Public tours of the new pastoral center are held the third Friday of the month from 3-6 p.m.
The next tour will be February 21, 2020.

On September 30, 2019, the construction crew, cutting the old bank vault accidentally started a fire at the site of the Diocesan Pastoral Center, on September 30. After unsuccessfully using a fire extinguisher to put out the fire, the crew shut the vault door and called 9-1-1. The smoldering fire was contained to the vault. There is no structural damage to the building and crews are able to continue with construction. 

The Diocese of Rapid City will have a public face in the community

By Bishop Robert Gruss
(West River Catholic, January 2019)

The Living the Mission Campaign is moving into full swing. The pilot phase has been successfully completed and the parishes in block one are fully engaged in the process. I am not only pleased, but deeply grateful for the generosity that I have seen thus far in the campaign. It speaks of peoples’ holy desire to live the mission of Jesus Christ, helping the diocese to move forward with what has been laid out in the Diocesan Priority Plan beginning in 2015. It is my hope that we are well on our way to a very successful campaign.

I would like to take the opportunity to update you on a very important priority for the Diocese of Rapid City. It too, was a key priority outlined in the Diocesan Priority Plan — a new pastoral center to include not only the chancery (offices of the bishop, diocesan administration and the archives) but also the offices of the personnel who provide pastoral ministry throughout the diocese. Before I do so, let’s look back for a moment.
As we recall, phase two of the We Walk By Faith appeal had originally planned for the renovation of space at Terra Sancta to be used for all of our diocesan offices. Due to lack of space at the main chancery located next to the cathedral, several departments were moved to the Terra Sancta Retreat Center on the northwest side of Rapid City — not the most ideal situation. The archives and the offices of our ministries including Faith Formation, Family Life Ministries, Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Stewardship, Vocations, the Marriage Tribunal, and Native American Ministry, are all currently located at Terra Sancta. Because of the overwhelming success of the Terra Sancta Retreat Center and the increase in diocesan staff, the retreat center is no longer a viable option as a new home for our diocesan offices. Our staff has almost doubled in the seven and a half years that I have been here.

Currently, my staff is spread across three buildings in two locations. At the main Chancery located near the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, we have some staff using space that was originally intended as a closet and file room. We also have staff who work different days each week in order to share a desk and shelf space. We have a very limited number of conference rooms which must be shared by many departments and 40 staff people. The longer these types of issues persist, the more difficult and costly it will be to address.
It has always been my desire to have a new pastoral center that will meet current and future needs more centrally located in Rapid City as a matter of convenience for the people we serve, at least locally. We have been quietly looking for a building that would provide adequate space for a couple of years. When we completed the facility master plan for the Terra Sancta campus a year and a half ago, we included a new pastoral center to be built there because we already owned the land.

Last February, we became aware that the Black Hills Federal Credit Union building at 225 Main Street was coming on the market in the near future. We toured the building and began a conversation with the owners about the possibility of purchasing it. At the same time we had our architect look at it to determine if the facility had adequate space based on our initial plan for a new pastoral center on the Terra Sancta campus. We also had an appraisal and inspection completed to assist us in determining if this could be a possibility for a new pastoral center.

My own excitement grew as I thought of the possibility of having the presence of the Catholic Church in downtown Rapid City. What a blessing that would be!

Over the course of the past ten months, we have been in negotiations with Black Hills Federal Credit Union to purchase this building. After a renovation process, it would provide enough office space to meet our current and future needs, allowing all of our staff to be together under one roof as well as ample parking for chancery staff and visitors — not to mention that the downtown location will give the diocese a very public face in our community.

I am very happy to say that we have recently signed a purchase agreement to acquire the building and the parking lots surrounding the Credit Union. We have agreed upon a four million dollar purchase price and could take possession in late February or March, depending upon how soon Black Hills Federal Credit Union is able to vacate the building and move into their new building across the street. With the remodeling necessary to accommodate the unique features and space requirements of a pastoral center, we believe that this option will cost $1-1.5 million less than a new building. The renovation process could take ten to twelve months.

We have been in our current location since 1975, serving the needs of the diocese from there for approximately 44 years. Like most families, most companies move multiple times in a 44 year history. I believe this new pastoral center will serve the needs of the Diocese of Rapid City for many, many years to come and also allow us to be the face of Christ to those we serve in the heart of Rapid City! That is the true blessing.