Generations have risen to call his name Blessed — The Fruits of Fr. Columban

Fr. Columban Bregenzer, OSB

Preserving a Catholic Community By Kathy Cordes, Diocesan Archivist

Interview with the Very Reverend Fr. Columban Bregenzer, OSB, VG, on August 12, 1941, titled Easter Sick Call.  Some license was taken to correct grammar, terminology and it includes two interviews.  In his own words, “the following story illustrates the difficulties under which the early missionaries were forced to labor.” 

After conducting the strenuous Easter Holy Week services at St. Martin Convent I was called in the later afternoon of Holy Saturday, to accompany the doctor to a distant ranch on a sick call.  We traveled in the usual conveyance of that time, a spring wagon with a horse. 

It was close to midnight by the time I had completed the religious rites and I desired to return immediately. I knew that penitents would be waiting for me Easter morning, but the fatigue of the horse and condition of the roads, for it had begun to rain, made my return impossible until morning.

The sick calls in those days were awful working conditions. When the people came to get the doctor, I, Father Columban (as I wish to be called), went out with him. When it snowed, once, I got so lost so I let the reins loose and the horse went home. Sometimes, a team was hired at the livery stable for me.

In 1902, with Bishop Stariha as first prelate, there were five priests, including myself to take care of the 41,000 square miles. The country was full of cattle men who came in once or twice a year to get supplies and then went to holy Mass and communion — those days the church was packed! 

The best that the family could offer me for my lodging was the garret and a sack of straw. The scurrying of the mice over my body was not conducive to sleep. As early as possible I was on the road and reached Sturgis about eight o’clock in the morning. 

The sisters had been waiting for two hours for holy Communion; the soldiers from nearby Fort Meade crowded the church waiting for a chance to make their Easter duty. After giving holy Communion to the sisters and hearing the confessions of the soldiers it was time for the ten o’clock high Mass. After Solemn Vespers in the afternoon I could finally seek much needed repose. 

I was not the first Benedictine in the Hills. Father Joachim came here in 1892. My Abbot told me that he wouldn’t leave me here longer than holy week. He also did not tell me about the size of the field, or about traveling to Lemmon and Faith. I came out to a little church. Yet, I said “you ought to have a holy man for this work.” Little did I know, that weeklong assignment would turn into 39 years!

Fr. Columban was hailed for his charity, his sense of justice, and his great desire for unity. His efforts as a priest of God and the spiritual guidance he gave his parishioners was an inspiration to the entire community and the surrounding settlements.

On September 10, 1988, Father was entered into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. This award was posthumously accepted by Sr. Marmion Howe.

The history of our own diocese remains fruitful and continues to bear fruit as the Gospel of St. John commands, “your fruit shall remain” (Jn 15:16-19).


Is our diocesan community willing to invest in the hearts of young people?

In 2016, Bishop Robert D. Gruss, wrote Through Him, With Him, and In Him: A Spiritual Guide to the Diocesan Priority Plan. Our sacred mission — why we exist as a diocese — is expressed very powerfully in our priority plan:

“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.”

In our priority plan we have six core values that will decide how we are to communicate and behave as a diocese. Those core values are prayer, stewardship, solidarity, mercy, family and reconciliation.

We also have our foundational ministries: Sacraments and Worship, Education and Formation, Governance and Finance, Social Services and Outreach and Vocations and Evangelization.

This past month I have been reflecting once again on the call that all of us have in building a vibrant culture of vocations in our families, parishes and diocese. In my prayer I felt moved by the Holy Spirit to return to our diocesan priority plan, in particular the section on Vocations and Evangelization, (pages 120-125).

Everyone’s responsibility

We hear in our priority plan that promoting vocations is the responsibility of all of us. It must involve everyone. This compelling quote from the Code of Canon Law, of all places, explicitly speaks of this responsibility that we are all called to embrace:

“The duty of fostering vocations rests with the entire Christian community so that the needs of the sacred ministry in the universal church are provided for sufficiently. This duty especially binds Christian families, educators, and in a special way, priests, particularly pastors. Diocesan bishops, who most especially are to be concerned for promoting vocations, are to teach the people entrusted to them of the importance of the sacred ministry and of the needs for ministers in the church in order to encourage and support endeavors to foster vocations, especially by means of projects established for that purpose” (Paragraph 233).

Bishop Gruss states that in “dioceses where vocations are flourishing, there resides a culture that has created an environment for young men and women to view the priesthood and religious life as a viable way of life and to view sacramental marriage as a vocation centered in Christ.”

The bishop continues that “such an environment has, in some way, awakened the hearts of these young people. At the heart of this environment is relational ministry.”

Invest in young people

One aspect, then, of a vibrant culture of vocations is a community willing to invest their lives and hearts in young people.

Several weeks ago, I was in Rome visiting Robert Kinyon, who is a second-year theologian at the North American College. Robert and I made several day trips to celebrate the Eucharist.

One of our stops was to the Sanctuary of Saint Maria Goretti in Nettuno; the other trip was Bolsena — Orvieto, the place in which a eucharistic miracle took place in 1263. A German priest, Peter of Prague, celebrating Mass at the tomb of St. Christina, had barely spoken the words of consecration when blood started to seep from the consecrated host and trickle over his hands onto the altar and the corporal. These were powerful places which encouraged some great conversations.

In one of our conversations Robert shared his desire to become another divine physician-Christ. Robert said too many people see the priest as simply a counselor or social worker rather than the divine physician of the soul. In Robert’s words:

“The priest is an Alter Christus (another Christ) who is called to live in complete conformity with Jesus and work as Christ in the world. Christ’s mission was fundamentally salvific. Every action he performed whether it be counseling, feeding, healing, or teaching was directed toward the eternal salvation of the people with whom he interacted. 

“So, too, it ought to be with the priest. Having received a special order from God, the priest participates in Christ’s work. His job is to serve as a bridge between God and humanity. Nowhere is this more evident than in the administration of the sacraments where God dispenses his divine life to his chosen people through the hands of the priest.”

Becoming a divine physician

As the Gospels attest, Jesus was a healer of body and soul. He came to bring life. He came to wage battle against sin and death. So, too, in a real way does the priest in whom, through his ordination and the power of the Holy Spirit, he makes present the very body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. 

It is through ordination and the power of the Holy Spirit that the priest, in the name of Christ, forgives sins, reconciling the human heart back to Christ. It is how he brings healing to the sick through the sacrament of anointing. The priest is truly the divine physician of the soul.

In addition to investing our lives and hearts in young people, we must also present a compelling vision of priesthood, religious life and marriage. We must speak clearly, boldly and creatively, both by example and by words, the fullness of the beauty of these vocations given to us by Jesus.

Fr. Mark McCormick and seminarian Robert Kinyon by the Sanctuary of Saint Maria Goretti in Nettuno, Italy. (Courtesy photo)

‘We are receiving the whole Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity’

By Fr. Michel Mulloy

(This month the following column addresses the temporary changes made to the celebration of the Mass in the Diocese of Rapid City because of the concerns raised by the viral flu. These changes do not affect the celebration of the Mass in the Extraordinary Rite. Those who attend the Latin Mass will see no changes. However, it is good to appreciate these temporary changes in the Novus Ordo.

Earlier this month, your pastors read for you a letter that I prepared offering temporary guidelines for the celebration of the Mass. These were put in place in response to recent concerns about the viral flu that has been reported here and throughout the world. Similar temporary changes in the celebration of the Mass have been announced in many dioceses in the United States and around the world. Two aspects of these directives are worthy of reflection.

We have suspended the distribution of the blood of Christ as a precaution against the spread of illness through the sharing of a common cup. This action does not diminish the fullness of our reception of the Lord at this sacred time of the Mass. The church has long taught that when we receive under the form of bread or under the form of wine, we are receiving the whole Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity. Although receiving under the form of bread and wine was practiced in the early church, for many centuries the faithful only received under the form of bread. In the United States the option to receive under the form of wine was granted many years ago. This was done as a fuller sign of communing with the Lord. Nonetheless, the church has always taught that receiving one species is receiving the Lord. This is evident in that the reception of the blood of Christ has always been optional except for the priest. In addition, those who are gluten intolerant only need to receive Christ under the form of wine. For those for whom this form of communion is necessary, please visit with your pastor about being able to receive from the cup. In the same way that some parishes have low gluten hosts on a separate plate for distribution to those who need that, certainly provision can be made for an extra, perhaps smaller cup to be placed on the altar for those who need to receive the Lord in that manner. 

This temporary restriction can perhaps serve as a reminder for us to be deeply grateful for our faith and the opportunity to regularly receive Jesus in Holy Communion. It can even remind us to pray for people in those dioceses where Mass has been suspended all together.

Another provision we have temporarily enacted is a verbal exchange of the Sign of Peace to limit physical contact. This is not intended to diminish the significance of this ritual. The Sign of Peace was reintroduced to the celebration of the Mass following the Second Vatican Council. Some have misunderstood the reason for this ritual and perceived it as a distraction from the preparation for receiving our Lord in communion, but the Sign of Peace is about offering and accepting the peace of the Lord before receiving him in the Eucharist. The priest offers us this peace as he says, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” We respond and are then invited to offer the peace of Christ to one another. This is not a light-hearted social greeting. We are offering each other the peace of Christ and receiving Christ’s peace from those around us. This is a wonderful way to prepare for the reception of the Lord in Holy Communion, to enter into the unity that he desires for us to embrace — with him and with one another. Perhaps this temporary restriction on physical contact can help us to better appreciate what this ritual is all about as we sincerely turn to look at another and deliberately offer them the peace of Christ with the words,  “I offer you the peace of Christ” or “Christ’s peace be with you.”

These changes are temporary. In adjusting to them we are invited to open our hearts to all that the Lord will continue to teach us as he guides his church in our diocese. Parishes will be notified when the temporary measures are lifted.

Exciting tidbits from the diocesan archives …

This 99 year old monstrance from St. Katherine Drexel was used at the Office of Faith Formation’s Refuel Conference, Jan. 17-18. It is carried by
Fr. Brian Christensen assisted by Deacon Jim Scherr. The monstrance was donated to St. Francis Mission on the Rosebud Reservation by St. Katherine in 1921 when the church was rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire. St. Francis Mission is one of the two missions she first founded.

Preserving a Catholic Community
By Kathy Cordes, Diocesan Archivist

As the story goes and my research continues, around 1941 there was an Alabaster Store in Rapid City? Just what is an alabaster store? Sound familiar, anyone? Calling all history buffs, I would love to hear your stories!

As we begin to plan our move, the archives along with each department in the Chancery, is working with record retention policies adhering to state and federal laws along with Canon (church) laws. Today, most records are not only in paper form but digital media. Meta data and digital footprints are extremely important today to preserve our history. Preserving these different types of media remains problematic and we must also preserve the equipment with which to view electronic records and have them remain operational for future use.  

Boxes, large and small, photographs and film slides, media, magazines and even a medical stethoscope have made their way into my office this last month. It is exciting to plan, according to archival practices, what can be disseminated, what must be stored and provenance to keep. Which begs the question — where in the world did this stethoscope come from? I think a visit to the Sisters of St. Martins is in order to see what stories they can tell me.

Time Capsules are historical monuments to capture memories. With the inception of a new pastoral center for western South Dakota, a small time capsule will be put together by staff. Beginning with Bishop Gruss to Fr. Michel Mulloy what better way to have our next generation remember our mission, our hospitality and the Year of the Eucharist. A small cedar box was chosen which was handmade by Fr. D. Craig Cower and will be on display in the archives of the new Pastoral Center.

New Black Elk prayer cards are on their way. The prayer for Nicholas Black Elk has been updated.The picture of him praying with his daughter Lucy has been sharpened on the Prayer for Canonization card. Prayers in English, Spanish and German versions are being made. Deacon Ben Black Bear is translating a Lakota version. 

Two museums in our own backyard will be featured this summer in issues of the West River Catholic. Fr. Jacob Boddicker, SJ will be a guest columnist for the “Curia Corner.” He will feature the Beuchel Memorial Lakota Museum on the Rosebud Reservation. This museum recently loaned the Refuel conference the monstrance of St. Katherine Drexel.

The Heritage Museum of the Holy Rosary Mission in Pine Ridge, South Dakota is the other museum. Mary Maxon, director, will be the guest columnist and will feature this museum. Both museums have collected many Lakota artifacts from their respective reservations and possess a wealth of information for our future generations.  Stay tuned for these exciting profiles.

Our diocesan mission statement shows us how to live, to proclaim the mission of Jesus Christ and to preserve our diocesan and church history for future generations. These records of enduring value, whether historical or intrinsic, enable us to maintain the rich and true history of our diocese. For all the blessings that God has provided for us, the information and artifacts that come the way of the archives are truly treasures.

During Lent feel free to feed your mind and spirit

By Laurie Hallstrom

The guidelines for Lent are printed on the next page.  Just in case anyone would like a few ideas, or a nudge, here is a peek at what a few Catholics do for Lent.

Mary Ann Koenig is a member of St. Anthony Church, Fairfax. “Now that we are empty nesters I’m afraid we aren’t as deliberate about daily practice, but we are always sure to have a donation ready for the Holy Thursday collection for the poor.”

At her parish there is no resident priest. Parishioners in Fairfax lead their own Lenten prayer services. “There are Stations of the Cross every Wednesday before Faith Formation led by the students and on Fridays stations are led by the Knights of Columbus,” she said.

Koenig added, “For penance in recent years I have tried to add some sort of prayer or devotional rather than (sometimes along with) giving something up. I have used Dynamic Catholic’s Lenten materials several times.” 

 It has been tradition to have tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches after the Ash Wednesday Mass at her church.  “We follow that with some kind of short film about Lent, or the life of Christ that is suitable for all ages,” she said.  

“One thing our family has done for years is observe the Paschal fast from Holy Thursday after evening Mass through Holy Saturday after the Vigil service. It’s more than a food fast — we don’t use radio, television, or other technology, and computers and telephones only as necessary. It’s a fast of silence from the noisiness of our lives.” 

Mike Krynski of Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City, said he doesn’t have a special charity during Lent. “There is a minor increase in prayer and I do go to confession,” he said. “I try to eat very light on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays, and I drink plenty of water to stay hydrated,” he said.

Sandy Kelly goes to Sacred Heart Church in Philip. Asked about almsgiving, she said, “We try to find a charity, usually which helps children, to fund. If we find an opportunity to serve, we will do that too. It really is not planned out — we see what comes up during Lent.”

Like Koenig she uses Dynamic Catholic resources during Lent. She adds to that books provided by the parish.

 “On Fridays we try not eat between meals. We do tuna casserole, cheese/olive pizza, fish sticks and fish. For fasting, it helps to stay busy and when I do really feel the hunger I think about those who may feel this on a regular basis or reflect on the Passion.”

William F. Greene, of St. Mary Church in Newell, said he doesn’t add any giving to charitable causes for Lent because, “I give to charity all year long.” To increase his Lenten prayer life he said, “I pray on the Passion story and I limit pleasurable activities during Lent.” He concurred with Krynski about drinking plenty of water. On Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent he usually eats just vegetables.

Frank Birkholt is from St. Anthony of Padua Church in Hot Springs. When asked about almsgiving he said, “I hope to do more this year, but in the past, I really haven’t done anything extra.”

Regarding prayer and penance, he said,  “I have a normal holy hour, but I try to spend more time in addition to that.  Also, I tend to be more diligent with reading the Bible during Lent. I try to prepare my heart by going to confession more than once a month during Lent.” He said he abstains from alcohol, caffeine and sweets during the season of Lent.

He observes the church rules for fasting  from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. “This Friday observance is something I try to carry over all year,” he said.   “I also try to do a three day fast over the triduum.  The biggest tip I have for fasting is prayer prior to starting it and do it on behalf of somebody else.”

“ I have a great recipe for black bean and squash chili that I love to make for Lent,” he said.

 Tammi Williams is also from Blessed Sacrament Church, Rapid City.

 Traditionally during Lent she chooses little acts of taking the time to handwrite letters, make actual phone calls and visit others in person. At her house they choose one organization or charity to give a gift of money.

“Non-traditionally, I step out of my comfort zone and try new things — teach a religious ed class, serve as a Eucharistic Minister, teach adult reading, volunteer as a teacher’s aide, or lead a prayer group with other families. 

 Williams said she does not add new prayers specifically for Lent, but is highly involved year round. “I’m in the Veritatis Splendor Institute Masters 1 Class and a Cor ad Cor prayer group. I highly recommend them both,” she said, adding the Cor ad Cor prayer exercises are designed to complement the liturgical seasons.”

Williams fasts two days a week regularly. “By fasting on Wednesday and Friday, I mean one meal — usually supper. I prefer fish or soup, nice bread, no meat. I find it helpful for fasting to attend Mass and receive the holy Eucharist. I make the fast for a specific intention (offer it up for a family member’s health, my growth in virtue …), and I pray to the saints for their intercessions,” she said.

Chancery employees examine hospitality at new pastoral center

As the remodeling of the new pastoral center continues, the staff who will soon occupy the building are also preparing.  Within the Chancery, there has been a working relocation committee for many months who are tackling everything from copier, IT and phone needs, to future signage, furniture needs and office assignments. Beyond these practical tasks which need to be coordinated and decided upon, the staff has also been looking at how we can better serve one another, the parishes and our neighbors after the move. In January of 2019 when Bishop Robert Gruss announced the purchase of the building on Main Street in the West River Catholic, the headline read: “The Diocese of Rapid City will have a public face in the community.”  We are committed to strive to have that “public face” reflect the face of Christ.

To assist us, we began a series of staff trainings in January designed to teach, encourage and inspire the entire staff to embrace a Catholic Way Of Life as outlined by our Stewardship vision. In January, we focused on the first pillar: Generous Hospitality. We spent a considerable amount of time exploring how, as a Chancery staff, we can embody the virtue of welcome in this pillar.

In the Diocese of Rapid City, we take as our model for welcome the Rule of St. Benedict which states: “Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for he is going to say, ‘I came as a guest and you received me’” (Mt 25:35). In the Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish, we encourage parishes to see that, “generous hospitality embraces everyone who comes through our doors … parishioners, inactive Catholics, non-Catholics, and newcomers are all treated as welcomed guests in the same way Jesus would be welcomed.” Since Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, we strive to “roll out the red carpet,” so to speak, for anyone we encounter. This is at the heart of Generous Hospitality: Welcome.

In the Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish, the Office of Stewardship provides concrete ways this virtue is lived out in parish life. We too, as a Chancery staff, brainstormed and discussed practical ways in which we can embody the virtue of welcome in our work. The discussion surfaced a wealth of practical ideas, and general principles, as well as potential challenges and pitfalls. A few highlights of dialogue were:

To create a clean, well-kept, ordered and attractive space inside and outside our building with clear signage that communicates clearly what we do, and helps people feel welcomed, comfortable and valued.

To be joyful, kind and attentive to all. To go the extra mile to answer questions, serve parishes, and help those who need our assistance.

To be committed to providing excellent hospitality to all who come in, even though we know hospitality can seem inefficient and cumbersome in an office environment.

We also brainstormed about practical ways we can live out the other two aspects of Generous Hospitality: Invitation and Fellowship. Over the next few months, additional trainings will help us to better live out Generous Hospitality in our new location. These trainings will introduce us to the downtown community, giving us information that will help us be a good neighbor and allow us to discern how best to respond to all who walk through our door.  Lastly, we will be trained in how to respond appropriately to potential dangers. We are committed to work towards becoming a “Stewardship Chancery,” to continue to inspire and encourage one another to live Generous Hospitality, and we look forward to taking a closer look at the pillars of Lively Faith and Dedicated Discipleship after we are settled in our new office space.  

The Office of Stewardship exists to assist parishes and individuals in incorporating stewardship into their parish and daily life.  We would be happy to conduct similar training for parishes and/or deaneries. If you would like to learn more about becoming a stewardship parish, and journey with the Chancery staff as we pursue this, please call or email us. Or visit our webpages at: for resources, ideas and opportunities to live the Diocesan Core Value of stewardship.

Our amen should lift the rafters

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

In this series we have reflected on the Eucharistic Prayer. We have walked through the various aspects of the Eucharistic Prayer including the opening dialogue, the preface, the Holy, Holy, the invocation of the Holy Spirit (epiclesis), the consecration, the remembering of what Jesus has done for us (anamnesis) and the offering of the body and blood of Christ to God the Father. We then move into intercessions. We are familiar with intercessory prayer. We offer to God our petitions in the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful, after the Creed.

It is most fitting to ask God for the things we need at this point in the Eucharistic Prayer. We have recalled the saving work of God and especially the gift of his Son Jesus. We know that the Lord is truly and really present with us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We have joined ourselves to Jesus’ sacrifice to the Father. With all this we confidently ask the Father for what we need.

The number of petitions in each Eucharistic Prayer varies, but there are several common themes that are present in all of them. We pray that we may be made one, united with Christ and one another. We pray for the whole church, for the pope and church leaders, for peace in the world and for those who have died. These petitions are prayed by the priest on behalf of the people. We are confident that the God who has blessed us with the gift of salvation in his Son and who is present in our Eucharistic gathering, will hear us. He will give to us what is best. We pray with hope, trusting and believing that God will respond.

The intercessions bring the Eucharistic Prayer to its completion. There is one thing more to do. The priest leads the congregation in the great doxology. The priest tells God the Father that all glory and honor belong to God. This glory that we express is given through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who revealed to us the glory of his Father and invited us to honor God by sacrificing our lives with him (Jesus’) to the Father. We say, “through Jesus and with Jesus and in Jesus.” We pray in union with the Holy Spirit whom we have invoked in the Eucharistic Prayer and who is present with us. He has transformed the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, and he is transforming us in this wonderful exchange.

The response of the congregation is the Great Amen. Amen prayed with glorious music is our affirmation. We believe what the priest has prayed for us and with us. We have joined our lives to Christ, and we have offered ourselves to God the Father. We are in the presence of the Blessed Trinity. Our amen at this moment should lift the rafters. It is an acclamation of all that has gone before in this wonderful experience we call the Eucharistic Prayer.

Understanding the depth and richness of the Eucharistic Prayer is vitally important to our praying it well. The call from the Vatican Council II for conscious participation in the Mass is in part, fulfilled in this understanding. A deeper appreciation can also lead us to a more active engagement in the Eucharistic Prayer. The priest vocalizes the words of the Eucharistic Prayer. We enter in by attentive listening. We respond to the dialogue at the beginning and sing the three acclamations. I also think that some unspoken prayers on our part could enhance the experience of prayer.

When the priest is engaging in the various parts of the Eucharistic Prayer, could we not be speaking in our mind and heart a phrase that joins us to the action of the prayer? For example, when the priest is speaking of the great words of God at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, could we not be praying mentally, “thank you Lord.”  When he invokes the Holy Spirit on our part, we could mentally pray, “come Holy Spirit.” We the priest is offering petitions during the Eucharistic Prayer, we could mentally pray, “Lord, hear our prayer.” These expressions, offered in silence, could help us continue to focus on the priest’s vocal prayer and draw us deeper into the whole prayer experience.

I hope this series has been helpful in revealing the richness of the Eucharistic Prayer. It is, as we said at the beginning, the center and high point of the entire celebration (of the Mass). GIRM 78