Exodus 90 Spiritual Exercises call for sacrifice

The first part of January we had more than 60 college students from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Black Hills State University that took two buses to Indianapolis for the SEEK Conference, in Indianapolis, Indiana, which is put on by FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students).

It was through the dedication and hard work of the FOCUS missionaries evangelizing and constantly inviting college students to SEEK that we were able to take this many people from these two small universities in Western South Dakota. God is good!

SEEK was a five-day gathering of thousands of college students from around the country who met to learn more about their faith, to share in friendship, to be encouraged in their unique vocation and to experience the love and hope that comes from a real, personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ in his church. The theme for this year’s conference was “Encounter Something More.”

From my experience, those who went to SEEK or those who have encountered someone who went to SEEK are still “Encountering Something More” — in the person of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit two months later.

In Matthew 7:20 we hear, “By their fruit you will know them.” For me personally, this fruit can be seen in the six small groups made up of 20-plus college students and young adults, three FOCUS missionaries, two priests, and one director of campus ministry participating in Exodus 90.

Exodus 90 is a spiritual exercise — at times it feels more like a spiritual boot camp — that is rooted in the great story of the movement from slavery to freedom in the Book of Exodus. Exodus 90 is comprised of four pillars: prayer, asceticism, fraternity and 90 days.

The Exodus 90 program makes prayer foundational in this spiritual journey. Each man is called to do a daily holy hour with at least 20 minutes of contemplative prayer, listening and pondering on the word of God. St. John of the Cross calls contemplative prayer “Silent Love.”

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read that it is in silent prayer coming before the face of God that “we let our masks fall and turn our heads back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed” (No. 2711).

As part of the prayer pillar, each man is also encouraged to pray the morning offering, go to daily Mass if at all possible, pray at meals, frequent confession, pray during Eucharistic adoration and pray a daily Rosary. One of the great fruits of the prayer pillar is that I offer Mass at 6 o’clock on Saturday mornings and usually have two or three that will show up, which always warms my heart.

The second pillar, asceticism, helps participants acquire self-discipline. This self-discipline gives men back their interior freedom — the freedom to give up “the things of this world” so as to receive in exchange a blessed freedom which allows us to love our “neighbors” and our God.

The goal of asceticism is to give us the strength to reorder our life. In the catechism it speaks of repentance in this way: “Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all of our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance towards the evil actions we have committed” (No. 1431).

The ascetic disciplines within the Exodus 90 program include: cold showers, no alcohol, no desserts and sweets, no eating between meals, no soda or sweetened drinks, no television or movies (without the permission of the fraternity), only music that lifts the soul to God, no televised sports (without the permission of the fraternity), computer and phone for research and communication purposes only, regular and intense exercise, no major material purchases (without the permission of the fraternity), fasting on Wednesday and Fridays by eating one regular meal and two smaller meals while abstaining from meat, and minimum of seven hours of sleep each night.

The small group/fraternity that I am a part of decided at the beginning of Exodus 90 journey that if one of us falls or breaks one of these ascetic disciplines that we all agreed to sleep on the floor. To be honest, sleeping on the floor has been a difficult and a challenging one for me, more so than the cold showers every day — so far it is been six nights on the floor.

Small group fraternities are a real gift to the Exodus 90 program. These fraternities build a band of brothers who help to keep each other accountable in this intense journey to freedom. These fraternities meet three times a week, allowing each brother the opportunity to give a self-report for accountability and to receive encouragement from the brotherhood.

Why the 90 days? It is the length of time needed to re-learn or reboot the spiritual life. Researchers have found that it takes about 90 days for the brain to reset itself. That is why most rehabilitation programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, use the 90-day model. There is a saying in AA, “90 meetings in 90 days.”

Prayer. Asceticism. Fraternity. We are discovering these are indispensable practices that build one on another as they lead us to true freedom and a transformed heart in Christ.

Black Hills State University Newman Center members taking up the Exodus 90 challenge with Fr. John Paul Trask at Spearfish. (Courtesy photo)







S.D. School of Mines Newman Center members taking up the Exodus 90 challenge with Fr. Mark McCormick and on the end at right, Jacques Daniel, center director. (Courtesy photo)

Sexual abuse unacceptable

The meeting in Rome on the protection of minors in the church has come and gone, but the work addressed at that meeting is far from complete. I am grateful that Pope Francis has called bishops from around the world to address this serious crisis in the church, to seek a positive and holy way forward. From what I have read, it was intense, challenging and fruitful. Many voices were heard — bishops, religious, and most importantly victim survivors.

Since the conclusion of this meeting, I have personally been asked if something concrete is going to come out of this gathering. In a statement Cardinal DiNardo made to Catholic News Service, he wrote, “The summit seemed to be effective in getting all the world’s bishops on the same page in placing victims and survivors at the center of the church’s concern, rather than the church’s reputation and its personnel.” Yes, that is one positive outcome, but concrete steps must be clearly defined for the church to really move forward to a place of healing and a new place of trust and accountability. There must be a process put in place by which bishops are held accountable and complaints against bishops can be processed effectively. The establishment of standards of conduct for bishops is important as well.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his address given at the end of the Mass closing this meeting on the protection of minors in the church, spoke strongly of the seriousness of this universal problem, acknowledging that this evil affects all societies around the world, but assuring us that it “is in no way less monstrous when it takes place within the church.

“The brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all the more grave and scandalous in the church, for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility. Consecrated persons, chosen by God to guide souls to salvation, let themselves be dominated by their human frailty or sickness and thus become tools of Satan. In abuse, we see the hand of the evil that does not spare even the innocence of children. No explanations suffice for these abuses involving children. We need to recognize with humility and courage that we stand face to face with the mystery of evil, which strikes most violently against the most vulnerable, for they are an image of Jesus. For this reason, the church has now become increasingly aware of the need not only to curb the gravest cases of abuse by disciplinary measures and civil and canonical processes, but also to decisively confront the phenomenon both inside and outside the church. She feels called to combat this evil that strikes at the very heart of her mission, which is to preach the Gospel to the little ones and to protect them from ravenous wolves.” (Address of His Holiness Pope Francis at the end of the Eucharistic Concelebration)

Sexual abuse of any person in our society is unacceptable and all necessary steps must be taken to ensure that our young people and vulnerable adults are protected. Since the implementation of the Charter, the Catholic Church in America has done more in seeking to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults than any other institution, public or private. Beginning in the 1990s, the bishops of the Diocese of Rapid City have implemented zero tolerance policies toward any instance of sexual abuse of children and young people. And we remain committed to do so.

Though the laicization of Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, is a step forward in the healing process, we have failed miserably in holding our church leaders accountable for this type of abhorrent behavior. Many U.S. Catholics still await a promised Vatican report regarding those who assisted McCarrick in rising through the hierarchical ranks of the church.

I look forward to the upcoming USCCB meeting in June.  At this meeting, the U.S. Bishops will discuss proposals and create plans moving forward to ensure that bishops are held accountable and that complaints against bishops can be processed effectively. I would agree that it is very important that laypeople be involved in this process. Their involvement would assist in restoring credibility to the church and her leadership. The success of this meeting in Rome will, I believe, be determined only by a comprehensive plan moving forward which ensures complete transparency and accountability. This is essential in restoring the trust that has been broken as the result of the misconduct of a few.

The Diocese of Rapid City remains committed to reaching out to victims of childhood sexual abuse within our diocese as well as doing all that we can to protect our youth and vulnerable adults from harm.

As the bishop of this diocese, I am deeply saddened that abuse of minors by clergy is part of the history of our local church. In the interest of transparency and accountability, I have chosen, as part of our ongoing process of reaching out to the diocesan community, to publicly identify those priests who have carried out ministry in the Diocese of Rapid City, and against whom there is a credible claim of sexual abuse of a minor. An allegation is deemed to be credible if there is reasonable cause to believe that abuse occurred. This determination follows a process of consultation and is not a legal judgment.  Inclusion on this list does not imply that the claims are true and correct in that the accused individual has been found guilty of a crime or liable for civil claims.  In many instances, the claims were made many years or decades after the alleged events and therefore were not capable of an investigation and determination.

It is important to acknowledge the horrid truth of past abuse in the church so that we can repent of these actions, and to recommit ourselves to ensuring that no one is hurt moving forward.

Again, I will ensure that the diocese remains vigilant and transparent in fulfilling its policies and procedures regarding reported sexual misconduct. Anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct by a bishop, priest, deacon or lay employee is invited to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator by calling 605-209-3418.

In a special way during this season of Lent, let us all pray for reparation for the sins and failings of those who abused their power and authority which led to the injury of others, especially our children. Please continue to pray for the healing of those victims and their families who have been harmed by such actions.

Please pray for me and our clergy as we move through this crisis. As the Body of Christ, pray, too, that the Lord Jesus, the Divine Physician who gave his life for his Church, leads her to true healing, conversion and holiness.  Be assured of my continued prayers for all of you.

Sincerely in the peace of Christ,

+Bishop Robert D. Gruss

The following list includes those priests/brothers/scholastics who were incardinated and/or served in the Diocese of Rapid City and were alleged to have sexually abused a minor(s). All are deceased except John Praveen Kumar Itukulapati ALCP/OSS.

Incardinated in the Diocese of Rapid City

John Corry

Thomas Gorman

William Lambert

Donald Murray

Dennis Riss

James Sheehan

Francis Vallo

From outside the Diocese of Rapid City

Francis Bell, Diocese of Albany

Cletus Adams TOR, (Third Order Regular Franciscan)

Gilbert Stack OSB, Order of St. Benedict)

John Praveen Kumar Itukulapati   ALCP/OSS, Order of the Apostolic Life Community of Priests in the Opus Spiritus Sancti

The following are Jesuits from the Society of Jesus:

Francis Chapman SJ

Bernard Fagan SJ

Paul Frey SJ

Joseph Gill SJ

Albert Janka SJ

James McDonough SJ

Thomas McShane SJ

Eugene Parshall SJ

George Pieper SJ

Kenneth Walleman SJ

For more details on the above individuals, visit the diocesan website at https://www.rapidcitydiocese.org/allegations-list/.

‘Silence is more than waiting for something happen’

Fr. Michel Mulloy, Vicar General

Silence! Can you imagine the stillness after someone shouts out that command? It is deafening in a world filled with chaotic noise. Some people love silence. Some do not. An anxiousness can flair up, the foreboding that something is wrong, someone forgot to say something or do something. That is a common experience unless we know that the silence is intentional and if we know what we are supposed do with the quiet.

In the celebration of the Mass there are four moments of silence. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which governs the celebration of the Mass, calls us to silence at the introduction to the Penitential Rite, the introduction to the Collect (Opening Prayer), during the Liturgy of the Word, and after Communion. The GIRM asks for this with adjectives like “brief” and descriptors like, “if appropriate.”

Yet, silence in the Mass is not just a “time-out.” I think it is essential to our encounter with Jesus, but we have to know how to take advantage of the freedom it provides for our personal prayer, reflection and encounter.

Silence is more than waiting for something happen. It is not travel time for the server or other ministers. Silence in the Mass is an invitation to receive what Jesus is saying to us, to think seriously about what it is that we want to share with God or to simply be present to him.

Mass is a prayer addressed to God the Father by Jesus. Jesus is present in the priest who leads, and the community gathered. St. Paul said we are Jesus present, “head and members.” Jesus prays through the priest and through us. Jesus prays for us in the Mass and he wants us to enter the mystery and pray with him.

At the beginning of the Penitential Rite the priest, who is Jesus present, is asking us to acknowledge that we are sinners. Sufficient silence allows us to do that. In the beginning of the Collect, the priest again invites us to pray. He is asking us to seriously offer our intentions for the Mass. Jesus wants to take our intentions to the throne of his Father. Again, having sufficient time to do that is key.

The whole Liturgy of the Word is an opportunity to listen to God speaking to us, being present in his word. Jesus, the Word of God, is proclaimed for us to hear and receive into our hearts and minds. Silence after the first and second readings and after the homily allows us to receive what God wants to say to us that day. These moments of silence are even more important and need to be long enough for us to truly receive God’s Word.

After receiving Communion, we are invited into an even more significant moment of silence. We have received the Lord, truly and really, in holy Communion. We need time to express our love and to listen to the Lord speak to our hearts. Movement really needs to cease, music needs to stop, so in the silence we can hear the Lord speak to us.

Once silence is explained and becomes a regular part of the Mass, it will become important. It will be missed if the Mass is too rushed. Silence, when it is understood and embraced, becomes essential to the encounter with Jesus that we are promised in the Mass.

For more information go to www.rapid citydiocese.org/office-worship-liturgy to view a workshop further exploring silence in the Mass.

West River Catholic February 2019

Enjoy the February 2019 West River Catholic

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Be attentive to growing in good and holy habits

“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear” —Eph 4:29.

In our diocese, a parish striving to be a Stewardship Parish is asked to “regularly discuss virtue, set forth examples of heroic virtue, and evaluate programs and policies in light of how they foster virtue.”

Virtue, though, can be a challenging thing to teach, and it is made more difficult by the reality that culturally, we rarely talk about virtue. If we do, it is only mentioned in very general terms. “Be nice!” the culture tells us. The church, however, calls us not to embrace some ill-defined standard of “niceness,” but to be virtuous, even heroically so. What does this mean? And how can we foster virtue in ourselves and in others?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines virtue as “a habitual and firm disposition to do the good” (1833). Virtues, then, are good habits we develop over time until they become our natural response. So, to foster a life of virtue means to be attentive to growing in good and holy habits. We must be intentional in our efforts both for ourselves and for those we teach.

I have the great grace to have the opportunity to meet weekly with a group of women who are serious about growing in virtue. Recently, one expressed a frustration experienced by us all: that she becomes discouraged when she must relate the same sins over and over in confession.

This opened up a wonderful discussion about how we root out those persistent areas of sin in our lives. One area many of us struggle with is gossip: talking about others or situations in ways that are less than edifying, talking about problems we don’t have the power to solve, or being negative or speaking ill of people or organizations. We know that all of this is destructive, and yet, we do it anyway.

Looking about the internet for information on gossip, I ran across a delightful article which stated, “In the South we have this knack for making gossip sound … almost nice. All you have to do is add ‘bless her heart’ to the end of the sentence. It goes like this: ‘Susie gained 50 pounds with that last pregnancy, bless her heart.’ ‘Marcy’s husband ran off with his secretary, bless her heart.’*

As I read, I thought to myself that we sometimes do the same thing in the church, except instead of saying “bless her heart,’” we say, “we need to pray for …” How crucial it is to be attentive and honest about our true motive. Do we really desire to offer this situation up to prayer, or is prayer just a pretense, a “legitimate” excuse for talking about another person or his or her struggles?

As Lent is just around the corner, now might be a great time to equip ourselves with some tools to root out the vice of gossip in our lives and replace it with the virtue of Christian kindness. In my own experience, to root out a vice and develop a virtue requires a simple tool rather than a complicated one.  Here are three simple questions attributed to Amy Carmichael, a missionary who served in India in the first part of the 20th century.

Before we speak, we should ask ourselves:

Is it true?

Is it kind?

Is it necessary?

It’s simple, but not necessarily easy. Still, I am inspired by Matthew Kelly to keep working to use this tool. In his latest book, “The Culture Solution,” he offers this advice: “How do you know if it is gossip or just a discussion? If there is a problem and there is nobody in the conversation who can address the problem, it’s gossip. If the person does not have a chance to defend his or her actions, it’s gossip.”

“Gossip erodes trust,” says Kelly. All healthy relationships are rooted in trust. All healthy church communities, in fact any healthy organization, is rooted in trust. Trust is foundational, and gossip undermines it terribly. As we strive to become more vibrant and more authentic witnesses for Christ, we will need to be intentional and persevering in promoting virtue, so that, as our Diocesan Stewardship document stresses, we can be “parishioners (who) embody steadfast kindness and compassion.”

https://finerfem.com/2014/05/24/gos sip-is-it-true-kind-necessary/

Carmichael, Amy. “Edges of His Ways” (Fort Washington: Christian Literature Crusade, 1955)

Pray together with the pope and our bishop

In the four Eucharistic Prayers that are used at Sunday Mass, we pray for unity and peace, for faith and charity in the church. Together with the pope and our bishop, we ask God the Father to grant us these graces. The four Eucharistic Prayers express our belief that we, the body of Christ, the Risen Lord present in the world today, are united with the Pope and our bishop.

I say “we” because, although the Eucharistic Prayer is vocalized by the priest, we all pray the Eucharistic Prayer through our attentive listening and in the sung acclamations. Together with the priest we are offering this prayer to God the Father through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the past few weeks I have reflected on this moment in the Eucharistic Prayer. Our church is under attack. Our Holy Father along with bishops throughout our country have been challenged on many levels. To be sure these are difficult times and there are many unanswered questions about serious matters in the church. All the more reason to renew our efforts to pray for this unity in the body of Christ, for the Holy Father, our bishop and bishops throughout the world.

The words of the Eucharistic Prayer are powerful. This is the high point of the celebration of the Mass. We are joining our sacrifice to Christ’s sacrifice. Christ died to bring unity to all people. His first words to his disciples in John’s Gospel when he appeared to them were, “Peace be with you.” Christ desires unity and peace in his church. When we join our sacrifice to Christ’s sacrifice, foremost in our minds and hearts should be His desire of unity. As we pray the Eucharistic Prayer, we believe that God the Father hears our prayer because it is the prayer of Christ himself. Jesus told us that God always hears his prayer.

The Eucharistic Prayer also calls us to action. During the disagreements that will inevitably manifest themselves we are called to exercise charity. In our conversations around the dinner table and the office, we must strive for clarity in the truth and understanding. Sharing our understanding must be united to our listening to others. This is how we arrive at the truth and how the unity for which we are praying will be manifested. I am always grateful when those moments of dialogue happen. This is how God continues to work within us and between us.

Unity will come to the church. May we pray earnestly for this and do our part to ensure the building up of church unity.

I would encourage you to reflect on this the next time you celebrate Mass and hear that part of the Eucharistic Prayer that says: “Be pleased to confirm in faith and charity your pilgrim Church on earth, with your servant Francis our Pope and Robert our Bishop” (EP III) or “Be pleased to grant her (the church) peace, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world together with your servant Francis our Pope and Robert our Bishop.” (EP I)

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

The Diocese of Rapid City is working on creating a new pastoral center in the Black Hills Federal Credit Union building on Main Street in Rapid City. The credit union is selling this building and will move into a new facility across the street in a couple months. (WRC photo)


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!