Professional training offered to heal abortion trauma

January 22, 2021 marks the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The National Right to Life office estimates that, in that time, there have been over 62,500,000 babies lost to abortion1. The tragedy of loss of these children is perhaps equaled only by the trauma that the mothers and the fathers of those children have endured.

In a society focused on the “right” to procure an abortion, often the natural consequences of that choice go unnoticed or even dismissed.  The negative effects of abortion may even be exacerbated when the public discourse becomes more heated, such as in an election year.

Carol Kling, the director of the Rachel’s Vineyard Team in the western Dakotas, remarked “I’ve heard women say, ‘I only wish I felt as much support in choosing motherhood as I felt in choosing abortion.’” She continued, “The consequences I’ve seen these women experience include self-loathing, guilt and grief that left a hole in their heart which later led to alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and even suicidal thoughts.  The ramifications of an abortion decision can be intense, and they can last for decades.”

In an effort to shift the focus back on to healing the hearts and souls of the women and men affected by abortion, Family Life Ministries is collaborating with Catholic Social Services to host a virtual professional training series “Rachel’s Vineyard: Healing the Trauma Wounds of Abortion.”  Rachel’s Vineyard, the largest post abortion ministry in the world, offers a unique sensory based treatment which integrates emotional, psychological and spiritual dimensions.

Carol is excited to bring Dr. Theresa Burke, the founder of Rachel’s Vineyard, to our diocese.  “Theresa has provided an immense amount of personal support and mentorship to me and our team in the evolution of the RV ministry in South Dakota. The number of women who have found peace and healing as a direct result of Theresa’s work is staggering. Our team alone has ministered to hundreds of women in our area since we first brought Rachel’s Vineyard to South Dakota in 1999.”

Dr. Burke has lectured and trained professionals internationally on the subject of post-abortion trauma and healing. Additionally, Theresa has developed healing models for spiritual and psychological trauma wounds from sexual abuse and even wounds suffered by combat veterans.  Her treatment programs are considered an intensive and uninterrupted “therapy for the soul.”

The training will be offered by Zoom, with the first Session February 22, and additional sessions offered every four months for the next two years. Open to anyone, the training will have components geared for medical and mental health professionals, clergy and lay people, including Rachel’s Vineyard Team members. CEU certification is in the process of being secured.

Topics for professionals include “A Crash Course in Trauma,” “Understanding Shame Based Identities” and “Brain Science — How Emotional Trauma Impacts the Brain.” Other topics which might appeal more to laity and clergy include “The Power of Secrets: Breaking Free from Trauma with Truth” and “Understanding Trauma Bonds.”

For more information, contact Amy Julian at or to register visit

1 FS01AbortionintheUS.pdf (

Deacon Walt Wilson’s one-of-a-kind hands on ministry

Judy and Deacon Walt Wilson from Our Lady of the Black Hills Church, Piedmont

By Laurie Hallstrom

“I just do stuff,” said Deacon Walt Wilson, Piedmont. He is age 80 and has a lot of stories, but he has just as many handyman projects under his belt.

His carpentry, stonework, tiling, and plumbing have helped Our Lady of the Black Hills Church, Piedmont; Sioux Spiritual Center, Howes; and Terra Sancta Retreat Center, Rapid City.

Feb. 7, he will be ordained 40 years. Only two other West River deacons have been ordained longer — Dcn. Ben Black Bear of St. Francis was ordained June 19, 1976, and Dcn. Joe Witte of Hot Springs was ordained September 22, 1979. These are incredible track records according to Dcn.  Greg Sass, diocesan director of the Permanent Diaconate. Most deacons are ordained closer to retirement age. Dcn. Sass said, “Then, a 10 year anniversary is a real milestone.”

Wilson had a Catholic education, starting East River with Sacred Heart Parish School in Aberdeen, and minor seminary at Marty Mission through Blue Cloud Abbey. West River he is a graduate of Cathedral High School in Rapid City.

Referring to Cathedral High school he said, “I don’t know why they let me in. I had a flat top haircut and smoked cigarettes,” he said.

He recalled his first day of high school. “(Religion teacher) Fr. Richard Plante liked me, and I got along with him. He was pretty robust and when he entered the classroom everyone jumped up. He said, ‘Hey who are you? You are new here.’ I answered all his questions, and I must have gotten the answers right. After class, Fr. Plante told me to stay. He stuck his hand out to shake and said, ‘I like you Wilson, you‘ve got spunk.’ He was a good friend from then on.”

Wilson graduated from Rapid City Cathedral High School in 1957. “I played football and it’s the only thing that kept me in school. We had a good team — my senior year we were undefeated,” he said.

He married his wife, Judy, Oct. 10, 1959.  They had two boys, two girls, and took in a passel of foster children, one of whom they adopted, a daughter.

He enlisted in the Navy and was a Machinist Mate 2nd class — working with boilers and steam engines. He was  discharged in 1961. “When I got out, I went to work for Northwest Engineering laying pipe on Omaha St., when it was a gravel road. Then, the meat packing plant was looking for a refrigeration man. I worked there for 34 years doing whatever they wanted me to do. I was the plant engineer the last 20 years,” he said.

Piedmont Parish

In 1979, Fr. Emilio Nebiolo, an Air Force Chaplain and the priest assigned to St. Mary Parish, Piedmont, initiated building a new church because the Piedmont area was growing. “A friend of mine and I dug the basement for it. When we had the groundbreaking ceremony, I borrowed a big front end loader from another friend. Bishop (Harold) Dimmerling said,  ‘Hey Wilson where are the shovels?’ I said we don’t do things ‘token’ here in Piedmont. I said get on the loader and you’re going to do a bucket full of dirt. He said, “I can’t do that,” and I said yes you can, get in the seat, I’ll hide on the other side and I’ll run the controls. So, he got up there, we had a hard hat for him that said  ‘Bish’ on it. It was kind of fun.”

That is not the end of his labor for Our Lady of the Black Hills parish. With the aid of family members, he tapped into the Black Hawk water supply, installed a well pump and septic tank, and tiled around the tabernacle and baptismal font. Outdoors, he made a stone grotto and for Christmas 2020 he built a manger to hold the new statues purchased by his pastor, Fr. Andrzej Wyrostek .

Fr. Chris Keeler, SJ, was the first resident priest in the Piedmont rectory. Father Keeler wore many hats while serving in the Diocese of Rapid City, including director of Catholic Social Services from 1976 to 1985, and he was a columnist for the West River Catholic. Father Keeler was a good friend of the two Jesuits who were starting a diaconate ministry in the diocese — Frs. John Hatcher and Pat McCorkell. Father Keeler talked Wilson into considering the ministry.

Sioux Spiritual Center

Deacon Wilson was ordained in 1981 by Bishop Dimmerling at Our Lady of the Black Hills Church, the same year as two other diaconate classmates, Claude Sauer and Gary Cooper were ordained.

Recalling his training, he said, “We had a retreat, with Fr Harry Eglsaer, SJ. I was sitting in a recliner near the east side. I kicked my boots off, and pretty quick Fr. Harry said, ‘Lets go to the chapel and have Mass, then we will have our dinner.’

“At the sign of peace my wife kissed me on the cheek and said, ‘you have had enough peace for everybody here.’ I didn’t know what she was talking about. After Mass we  were walking back for dinner and I asked her. ‘You fell asleep while Fr. Harry was talking, and you snored so loud he had to cut his talk off because no one could hear. Don’t sit in that chair anymore, I couldn’t reach you to kick you and wake you up.’”

The Sioux Spiritual Center has undergone several expansions over the years . He helped Fr. Jim Stehr, SJ, put plumbing in for the basement bathrooms. More recently, in November 2020,“I worked on the spring and cistern they use to feed water from. The stream was only flowing a gallon a minute, I thought of a better way to capture water from the spring.” With the aid of his son and grandson he increased the water to five or six gallons a minute.

Terra Sancta Retreat Center

His handy work is especially visible at Terra Sancta Retreat Center, where his daughter Reeny Wilson is the director.  His rock masonry work can be seen in the base for the St. Kateri Tekakwitha statue, in the St. Kateri Courtyard; in the 12 stone pillars that hold the communion rails from when the Benedictine Sisters owned the building that are now part of the landscape in front of the Holy Cross Chapel; as well as in the altar and ambo of the Cenacle, the small chapel. He poured concrete for the crucifix on the hill and set the steel base for the cross. He set the outside altar, ambo and  built a fire pit. For the stations of the cross, leading up the hillside, he set the posts and poured the concrete. Referring to the granite tablets, “I put the stations in and I got them in order,” he chuckled.

For the Children’s Memorial Garden, Dcn. Wilson designed, fabricated and installed the edifice where children’s names are hung. He said he made it look like the front of the chapel and added two sets of iron that look like angels’ wings.

‘St. Joseph keeps showing up in my life’

Last summer during a trip to Minnesota, Fr. Mark McCormick stopped at the church where he was baptized, St. Joseph Parish in Montevideo. He is amazed how often St. Joseph shows up in his life. (Courtesy photo)


I am not sure why I am surprised, although I am, by the fact that St. Joseph keeps showing up in my life. The first time St. Joseph really entered my radar screen, in an intentional way, was several years ago through my participation in three-year certificate in Spiritual Direction program through the Institute of Priestly Formation. The IPF taught me to start seeing my priestly heart as a spousal heart, like that of St. Joseph.

St. John Paul II, in his Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday in 1992, wrote, “The priest is called to be the living image of Jesus Christ, the spouse of the Church. Of course, he will always remain a member of the community as a believer alongside his other brothers and sisters who have been called by the Spirit, but in virtue of his configuration to Christ, the head and shepherd, the priest stands in this spousal relationship with regard to the community …”

“In his spiritual life, therefore, he is called to live out Christ’s spousal love toward the Church, his bride. Therefore, the priest’s life ought to radiate this spousal character, which demands that he be a witness to Christ’s spousal love and thus be capable of loving people with a heart which is new, generous and pure.”

Last March, several diocesan priests along with our seminarians, did a consecration to St. Joseph using the book, “The Wonders of our Spiritual Father” by Father Don Calloway, a priest of the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception. It was a grace-filled time to be able to pray with my brother priests and seminarians in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, turning to the intercession of St. Joseph.

St. Joseph Most Courageous, St. Joseph Pillar of Families, St. Joseph Comfort of the Afflicted, St. Joseph Hope of the Sick, St. Joseph Patron of the Dying, St. Joseph Terror of Demons and St. Joseph Protector of the Holy Church are just a few of St. Joseph’s titles that we called upon in preparing to consecrate our hearts to St. Joseph.

This past summer I was visiting a priest friend of mine and several high school classmates in central Minnesota. On my way home, I passed through Montevideo, Minnesota, where I was born and baptized. I stopped and prayed at the church in which I was baptized. For some reason, I did not remember the church’s name, but to my great surprise it is the Church of St. Joseph.

On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8, Pope Francis announced the “Year of St. Joseph — Patris Corde (With a Father’s Heart). This marks the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as patron of the Universal Church.

In his apostolic letter, Pope Francis explained that the aim of this special year is to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtue and his zeal.

In that letter Pope Francis describes St. Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, and an accepting father — a father who is

creatively courageous, a working father and a father in the shadows.

In my work as Vocation Director, I see my own spiritual fatherhood continue to deepen and grow as I walk and pray with these young men who are discerning a call to seminary formation and to the priesthood. This past year, I have called more on the intercession of St. Joseph to help me in this essential work in our church, to continue to invite and create a culture of vocations in our families, our parishes and our diocese.

One of the images of St. Joseph that Father Calloway uses in his book on consecration to St. Joseph is to see Joseph as the “Nurturer of the Son of God.”  This is a powerful image for all of us and one that calls each of us to action.

This past October, Mark Schlichte, a parishioner of Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, is one who took to heart the call to be “Nurturer of the Son of God.” Mark posted this comment on Facebook when he encountered Bishop Peter standing in the center of our Cathedral, flanked by three seminarians on each side of him.

“I have witnessed courage in battle. Can you imagine the courage of these men, especially in these times, as they discern their vocation? Can you imagine the courage it takes KNOWING that they will have to engage Satan’s attacks that will come? That is unbelievable courage,” Mark wrote. “Pray for them, bless them, make them know you have their backs and pray for more courageous men and women to serve the church. And pray for priests and religious.”

In this year of St. Joseph, I encourage you as a Nurturer of the Son of God yourselves, to pray daily this prayer to St. Joseph, asking for his intercession upon our diocese so that many more of our men and women will not be afraid to act when God calls them.

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son; in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too, show yourself a father and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage, and defend us from every evil.  Amen.
(From Patris Corde)




2021 Catholic Men’s Conference

Totus Tuus Summer 2021


Praised be Jesus Christ! It’s been a most unusual year, but we are still making plans to hold our annual diocesan conference for all who serve the mission of the Church – catechists, evangelists, youth ministers, volunteers, and more: 

Lost & Found
 Friday – Saturday, January 22-23, 2021
Terra Sancta Retreat Center
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?” – Luke 15:4

As we continue to navigate the work of evangelization during a pandemic, many of us are asking questions about how to reach out, how to connect with and bring back those families that we haven’t seen in months due to Covid, how to bring the Good News to the people in our communities. At Refuel 2021, we’ll talk about these hard questions and discuss ideas, opportunities, and resources, to help us with the new challenges of the New Evangelization, as we seek out the lost.

This year, we have a modified schedule, all conferences will be held in Holy Cross Chapel, and meals can be purchased optionally, in order to better accommodate social distancing.  Registration will be limited in order to meet spacing requirements in the chapel, and participants are asked to wear a mask in the common areas of the retreat center, although masks can be removed once seated in the chapel.

We are also offering the option to join us online via video, if you prefer — just be sure to check that box on your registration form. We’ll send you a link to view the conference and prayer times live online.

Cost is $30 with lodging and optional meals available for an additional charge. In-person space is limited — please register early to reserve your spot! Registration deadline is: January 12. 

Register online at:
Click here for a downloadable PDF flier!

Solemnity of Mary

Exodus 90