Venerating relics of St. Pio

By Laurie Hallstrom

A rare opportunity to venerate the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina will be offered in the Diocese of Rapid City, September 28-29 (see schedule at right). It will take place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Known to many as Padre Pio, he was a priest who bore the stigmata, or wounds of Christ. He was canonized June 16, 2002, by then-Pope John Paul II.

Vicar General, Fr. Michel Mulloy, said, “Relics bring us close to the saints, the men and women whom the church declares to be in heaven. God worked powerfully in their lives. Coming close to something that was a part of their lives, opens us up to the ways that God wants to work in our lives.”

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, relics in the Catholic Church are divided into three categories. First class relics are a portion of a saint’s body. A piece of bone would be an example. Second classic relics are clothing or objects that were part of a saint’s life, perhaps a rosary. Third class relics are objects, like a piece of cloth, that have been touched to a first class relic. The relics of St. Pio will be displayed in small containers known as reliquaries.

Describing a second class relic, Father Mulloy said, “I was in Assisi, Italy, and saw the tunic that St. Francis wore. It was amazing to think that this holy man wore this garment. It was a moment of encountering God through St. Francis and his own clothing. It helped me imagine his life. In seeing his clothing I could get in touch with him. It renewed my faith and trust and made me want to strive for a more holy life.”

Veneration, or showing great respect to a deceased loved one, is a common practice similar to decorating the grave of a relative. According to Catholic Answers, an organization dedicated to answering questions about Catholic Church teachings, during veneration Catholics do not worship the saint but ask their intercession for divine assistance with prayers.

Mary Daniel, director of Liturgy for the cathedral, said, “We will be setting out two wooden boxes at the front of the church by the handicap pews. Intercession requests and donations for the St. Pio Foundation will be placed in these boxes.”

Two Biblical examples of divine intervention through objects include the woman who was healed of severe bleeding just by touching the border of Jesus’ garment in Lk 8:44. Or in Acts 19:11-12, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured, and the evil spirits left them.”

The foundation will also provide religious items for purchase.


Cathedral OLPH Schedule for Relics of St. Pio

Friday, September 28

5:30 p.m. Votive Mass of St. Pio and Reception of Relics with Bishop Robert Gruss

6:30-10 p.m. Reconciliation

6:30 p.m. Veneration of Relics continues through Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

6:30 p.m. Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament resumes in Our Lady’s Chapel


Saturday, September 29

8 a.m. Mass for the Feast of the Archangels, Chapel

8:30 a.m Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament resumes Chapel

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Reconciliation

Noon Sung Rosary

3 p.m. Chaplet of Divine Mercy

5:30 p.m. Sunday Vigil Mass with Bishop Robert Gruss

Summit speaks to share powerful stories

Matt Loboda and his family from Phoenix, Ariz. He will speak at the Summit. (Courtesy photo)

By Shawna Hanson
Director of Stewardship


“A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way.” — Flannery O’Connor

“A lost coin is found by means of a candle; the deepest truth is found by means of a simple story.” — Anthony De Mello

As a third-grader, my son was really struggling to memorize his multiplication facts. We tried everything from flash cards to math games to incentives, all to no avail. He just could not remember them for more than about a day, particularly those involving the numbers greater than five. Finally, I discovered a program developed by a mom who had assigned names to the numbers 6-9 and then developed simple one-sentence stories that contained the math fact. For instance, 7 x 8 = 56 became, “Mrs. Weeks (7) and Mrs. Snowman (8) drove down the highway at 56 mph. (complete with a simple illustration).” In just a matter of days, my son, who had struggled for months, had memorized all the math facts associated with these number “stories.”  There is power in a story. For one thing, we remember them.  Stories stick with us.

In addition, stories have a power that the mere recitation of facts do not. They draw us in and arouse emotions in us.  They bring to the forefront of our minds our own experiences, our own stories.

Recently, I attended a reception for parishioners at the cathedral given to share information with us about the parish’s renovation plans.  Much good information was shared and all present seemed to enjoy the conversation and fellowship. But several parishioners shared with me later that the best part of the evening was Fr. Brian’s spontaneous

recounting of attending Mass at the cathedral for the first time as an Air Force officer newly assigned at Ellsworth. All of us delighted in the warm welcome he received from a fellow parishioner and in a real way, shared his gratitude and joy.

Stories often generate conversation and help foster friendship. In late July, I attended the Regional Stewardship Conference in Sioux Falls. There were many fine speakers and good information shared over the course of two days. But, in all honesty, what I enjoyed most was dinner on Thursday evening. Will Wisner, the director of our capital campaign, generously invited those of us from Rapid City to dinner. He also delighted us all with many of his adventures traveling across our diocese gathering information for our campaign. Thanks to his (and others)

talent for storytelling and his generosity in sharing it, all who were at our table had a delightful time.

Lastly, some stories have the power, as Anthony de Mello notes in the quote above, to convey deep truths. We know this is true of the stories Jesus told. In his parables, deep truths are conveyed through these stories which often use experiences and events drawn from the everyday lives of those he spoke to. Despite the apparent simplicity of these stories, books have been written unpacking the meaning of some of them.

My great respect for the power of a story well-told is one of the reasons I am so excited about the upcoming Summit to be held on Saturday, September 22 from 10: a.m.–8 p.m. at Terra Sancta. The speakers we have coming for this year’s Summit are master storytellers. They have some powerful stories to share. Matt Loboda is a father of five and works in landscaping in Phoenix, Arizona. In many ways, he is just like the fathers and husbands you know. But Matt has a very powerful story to share with us. In December of 2016, while visiting her grandparents, 19-month old Joy Loboda, was found floating face down in the swimming pool. She was not breathing.  Matt pulled her from the pool and began performing CPR. “As I breathed into Joy, I prayed that my breath would be the breath of God into her …,” says Matt. Thus, begins Matt story of a long, very difficult and faith-filled journey for Matt, his wife Kristen and Joy. A story of a modern-day miracle which, like all good stories, touches the lives and hearts of those who hear it; a story which allows Matt to share with us the sure and certain knowledge of God’s great mercy and love.

Jim Beckman is also a husband and father. He has a great gift for sharing stories from his own life. He was privileged to witness the miraculous healing of his father, and as a Youth Minister for a Denver-area church to minister, to students who experienced the Columbine shooting. Jim was the keynote speaker at the Summit two years ago, and here are a few things people said about him then: “Jim Beckman was excellent!”  “Speaker was Exceptional!” “I would love to hear him again.”

Finally, Chris Stewart and Tony Brandt will be there as well, sharing once again their inspirational stories and experiences from their many years of teaching and ministering as they did so well at last year’s Summit.

Bishop Gruss will be joining us, leading us in Mass and sharing his wisdom with us as well. I am looking forward to the event. I pray that you, too, are inspired to make every effort to clear your calendar and come. There are many ways we can choose to spend our time; many demands put upon us. But this is worth sacrificing for!

Come. Be inspired. Be renewed.

Bishop Gruss invited to become a CRL Board member


Bishop Robert Gruss has been asked to serve on the Board of Directors for Catholic Rural Life. He will begin serving a three-year term in November. The 94-year-old organization is headquartered in St. Paul, Minn.

Executive Director Jim Ennis said he met Bishop Gruss last year when they served together on a rural ministry panel. He recommended the bishop to the organization’s board.

The organization was founded in 1923, in St. Louis, Mo., by Fr. Edwin V. Ohara, who at that time was serving as the director of the National Catholic Welfare Conference’s Rural Life Bureau. He believed rural Catholics were underserved by Catholic priests, schools and hospitals. His primary interest was in religious education.

During the Great Depression the organization sought to help the economic plight of farmers by bringing attention to produce prices. In the 1940s the headquarters were moved to Des Moines, Iowa. Msgr. Luigi G. Ligutti became a spokesman for rural life issues. During the next two decades National Catholic Rural Life also focused on the spiritual needs of rural Catholics. It developed its own “Rural Life Prayerbook,” stressed blessing animals and fields and chose St. Isidore as the official patron saint for farmers. Between 1960 and 1980, the organization stressed farm-aid policies that did not change with political parties and responsible soil, energy and water stewardship.

Under the leadership of Bishop Maurice Dingman, with the help of Dr. John Hart, in 1980 a pastoral letter was developed: “Strangers and Guests: Toward Community in the Heartland,” and it was signed by 44 Midwestern bishops. In the 1980s, when many farmers and ranchers faced foreclosures, the organization began working to impact national food and agriculture policies.

In 2008, Ennis became executive director. In 2013 the name was changed to Catholic Rural Life and in 2014 the office was moved to St. Paul. Today the organization focuses on the environment, developing leaders in the agriculture community, and training priests and lay leaders who serve in rural areas. More can be learned about Catholic Rural Life from the Website, In the Diocese of Rapid City, Fr. Tyler Dennis, Martin, is the Rural Life Director. (History condensed from CRL materials by Laurie Hallstrom)

Black Elk canonization cause continues


Fr. Luis Escalante, postulator from the Congregation for Causes of Saints, Rome, looks up from the diocesan history book, “We Walk by Faith.” (WRC photo)


On July 26, in Rapid City, a local committee organized for the canonization of Nicholas Black Elk, servant of God, convened. The group called Officials of the Inquiry met with Fr. Luis Escalante, postulator from the Congregation for Causes of Saints, Rome. Also attending was  Ken Stuart, Archives Research Administrator for the South Dakota State Archives/South Dakota State Historical Society. Stewart is working on the induction of Black Elk into the S. D. Hall of Fame on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 9:30 a.m. in Chamberlain. The Black Elk descendants were represented by Myron Pourier, the great-great-grandson of Black Elk.

On July 27, Father Escalante went to Christ the King Church, Porcupine, and reviewed the files Vice Postulator Bill White has collected.

After Porcupine, Father Escalante went to Holy Rosary Mission in Pine Ridge. Black Elk’s work as a catechist originated from the mission in 1907. He is credited with bringing more than 400 people into the Catholic Church.

The diocesan phase of the process still includes gathering testimonies. In early 2019, the records will be sent to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints in Rome for review. No one knows how long the canonization process will take. To view the requirements of sainthood, check the West River Catholic digital archives, at see page 6.



‘Jesus wants to heal you and give life in abundance’

In so many places in the Gospel, people who were sick and suffering were brought to Jesus, in hope of healing. Over and over again, Jesus touches them or they touch him. His healing love and mercy then become the source of new life for those who believed in his power. “Your faith has saved you,” he says over and over again.

Have you ever thought about the need for healing in your own life; that Jesus desires to give you that same new life? All of us are wounded in some way, wounded by many different experiences of life, wounded by hurtful events or uninvited traumas that happened in our childhood years from which we still feel the effects. We are left with inner wounds which cause emotional pain, and we try to manage our lives so that we get through each day with the least amount of suffering. Does this ring true in your life? Sometimes we are so good at managing life that simply to avoid pain has become our norm and we don’t know that life can be any different.

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly,” (Jn 10:10). This promise of Jesus may seem like just a dream to many people. But these words of Jesus from John’s Gospel reveal a gift that is offered to all of us. We know that he is not speaking of material abundance, but a deeper life in his love and mercy and healing. But how often do we ask for this gift? Or open our hearts to this gift?

In order to realize the need for inner healing, we must first identify the problem, those emotional wounds, so that we can then seek the healing Jesus wants to give us. Allow me to name a few common ones:

  • A hurt that doesn’t seem to go away
  • A tendency to become easily irritable with others, to lash out at others, even people who love you and have done you no harm
  • Low tolerance and/or irrational expectations of others, expecting and demanding more from them than is reasonable
  • Feelings of anger, hate, resentment, etc. that seem to “rise up” within you at the slightest offense from others
  • Feelings of anger or resentment that are brought up by events from your past
  • Difficulty in forgiving yourself and others, perhaps even God
  • Difficulty in feeling loved, in seeing clearly and realizing the love of others and God in your life, as if a wall has been erected that blocks the flow of love into your life
  • Self-hate
  • Becoming easily frustrated with others, with everyday tasks and responsibilities
  • Perfectionism
  • Feelings of hopelessness

These are just a few common emotional wounds that diminish the life Jesus desires for you.

How does one overcome these negative emotions to receive healing? 1) Believe that these things are not what defines you. What defines you is Christ’s love. 2) Believe that Jesus wants to heal you and give life in abundance.  Remember Jesus’ words, “Your faith has saved you.” You must have faith that he can and wants to do this.

Over the years I have come across many prayers that have helped me along the way – leading to a deeper life in abundance. Below are two prayers which have helped and which I pray daily with my morning Liturgy of the Hours. They have helped me. I hope and pray that they will help you and lead you to the healing you seek — and the promised life in abundance. They have come from the “Manual of Minor Exorcisms by Bishop Julian Porteous.”


Prayer for Protection and Deliverance

Heavenly Father, I praise and thank you for all you have given me. Please cover me with the protective, precious blood of your Son, Jesus Christ, and increase your Holy Spirit in me with His gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, hunger for prayer, guidance, and discernment to help me know your will and surrender to it more completely.

Father, please heal my negative emotions and any wounds in my heart and spirit. Send the sword of your Holy Spirit to sever and break all spells, curses, hexes, voodoo, and all negative genetic, inter-generational, and addictive material, past, present, or to come, known or unknown, against me, my relationships, and family, finances, and possessions.

Father, I forgive and I ask forgiveness for my sins and failings, and I ask that my whole person, body and mind, heart and will, soul and spirit, memory and emotions, attitudes and values be cleansed, renewed and protected by the most precious blood of your Son, Jesus.

In the name, power, blood, and authority of Jesus Christ I bind and break the power and effect in or around me of any and all evil spirits who are trying to harm me in any way and I command these spirits and their companion spirits in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to leave me peacefully and quietly and go immediately and directly to the Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ in the closest Catholic Church tabernacle, to be disposed of by Jesus and never again return to harm me.

Dear Holy Spirit, please fill up any void in me to overflowing with your great love. All this, Father, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ by the guidance of your Holy Spirit. Immaculate Heart of Mary, spouse of the Holy Spirit, please pray for me and with me. Amen.

— Manual of Minor Exorcisms by Bishop Julian Porteous


Prayer for Inner Healing

Lord Jesus, you came to heal our wounded and troubled hearts. I beg you to heal the torments that cause anxiety in my heart. I beg you, in a

particular way, to heal all who are the cause of sin. I beg you to come into my life and heal me of the psychological harms that struck me in my early years and from the injuries that they caused throughout my life.

Lord Jesus, you know my burdens. I lay them all on your Good Shepherd’s heart. I beseech you — by the merits of the great, open wound in your heart — to heal the small wounds that are mine. Heal the pain of my memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety.

Heal, O Lord, all those wounds that have been the cause of all the evil that is rooted in my life. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You who came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my own heart. Heal, my Lord Jesus, those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness. I offer you my heart. Accept it, Lord, purify it and give me the sentiments of Your Divine Heart. Help me to be meek and humble.

Heal me, O Lord, from any pain caused by the death of my loved ones, if it is oppressing me. Grant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that you are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me an authentic witness to your resurrection, your victory over sin and death, your living presence among us. Amen.

— Manual of Minor Exorcisms by Bishop Julian Porteous

Plainview church serves 100 years

Bishop Robert Gruss will celebrate Mass at Our Lady of Victory Church, Plainview, on July 29, at 2 p.m. to commemorate the church’s centennial. Parish pastor, Fr. Janusz Korban of Faith, will concelebrate.

It was the first church built in rural Eastern Meade County and was dedicated by Bishop John Lawler on November 23, 1918.

On June 7, 2018, the Presbyteral Council for the Diocese of Rapid City recommended the church be canonically closed and Vicar General, Fr. Michel Mulloy, celebrated the final regularly scheduled Mass on June 24. An official decree regarding the closing of the parish is expected to run in the August issue of the West River Catholic.

According to a diocesan archive article written by the late Isabell King, of Sturgis, the land for the parish and rectory was donated by Tony Kovarik from his 1908 homestead. Construction started in 1917 and was completed in 1918. The first contribution of $500 came from Catholic Extension Society and was attributed to an anonymous donor. Pat Dewey, who did not own a wagon or buggy, went from farm to farm with a cultivator collecting money to build the new church.

Parishioners suffered a setback when their contractor ran off with part of the money collected for construction. They raised more money by holding card parties and other social events. Another carpenter was hired, and plastering, painting and a heating furnace were donated for the building. In her account, King said, “The ceiling was so high that heat rose to the top and stayed there, while the congregation was shivering and shaking.”

The first recorded pastor was Fr. Henry McRory who came from New York City. He lived with area families until the buildings were finished. In 1934, the rectory was sold, and the church became a mission parish served by St. Joseph Church, Faith. It has been served by Faith since then.

Cathedral will host ‘Padre Pio’ relics for veneration

Through the work of the St. Pio Foundation, authentic relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina have traveled throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. By invitation of Bishop Robert Gruss on Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29, they will be at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City. The Diocese of Rapid City is one of 40 places in the U.S. to host the relics for veneration this year.

Francesco Forgione was born May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy. By age 10 he expressed his desire to become a priest. At age 15 he joined the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and took the name Pio in honor of St. Pius V. August 10, 1910, he was ordained a priest. A month later, he said, while praying Jesus and Mary appeared to him and gave him the

stigmata or wounds of Christ. While praying for an end to World War I, he said Christ appeared and pierced his side. As a result, he suffered in poor health for much of his life.

Padre Pio was highly sought after as a spiritual director and confessor. Supernatural occurrences were also attributed to him. His popularity was a source of concern for his religious order and the Holy See. They restricted much of his ministry during his lifetime. He died September 23, 1968, and was canonized June 16, 2002, by Pope John Paul II. His feast day is September 23. St. Pio is the patron saint of civil defense volunteers, adolescents and the village of Pietrelcina.

Luciano Lamonarca, president and CEO of the St. Pio Foundation said in a letter, “I wish to extend our gratitude to you for your support of this pilgrimage of the relics of Padre Pio. Offering such an opportunity to the many thousands of faithful of the diocese and its neighboring dioceses requires much cooperative planning and effort on the part of both the St. Pio Foundation and the diocese.

“From the outset, the St. Pio Foundation decided to bring the relics of St. Pio to any diocese that would request them, whether large or small. A recent survey brought to our attention that at least 90 percent of those attending the veneration of the relics have never visited nor will be able to visit Pietrelcina nor San Giovanni Rotondo where the shrine of St. Pio is in Italy.”

Deacon Greg Kandra, the honorary advocate for the foundation, from New Rochelle, New York, said, “I’m sure you can appreciate that the hosting of these relics is a singular and even historic moment that can only help to inspire the faithful and offer many spiritual riches.”

Preliminary plans include Mass with Bishop Robert Gruss, veneration and reconciliation. When the schedule is finalized it will be published in the West River Catholic.

Join us, success can come through prayers

By Fr. Mark McCormick, Director of Vocations

& Shawna Hanson, Director of Stewardship


“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7


“Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7


Sometimes we think we read over these words of Jesus without really allowing them to sink into our minds and hearts. Do we truly believe that this is true?  And if so, do we act out of that truth? Fr. Mark shared with me recently, “Sometimes I just don’t think we take this seriously and become a beggar in prayer before the Lord.” Over the next couple of months, we are encouraging everyone to practice being a beggar before the Lord in a very particular way. In mid-June, 60 people from around the diocese joined the Office of Stewardship for a day-and-a-half training conducted by Chris Stewart and Tony Brandt of Casting Nets Ministries. At that training, we explored the diocesan Core Value of Prayer as well as the power of Invitation (one of the aspects of Generous Hospitality). And we were inspired to use what we were learning to help work and pray for the success of the 2018 Stewardship Summit. This year’s Summit is an evangelistic event designed to help and foster an encounter with the living person of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in a new way in people’s lives. We are committed to praying as many Memorares as possible between now and September for the success of this event. In Tony’s words, “a plethora.”

Why the Memorare? As we bring our desires before the Lord, who better than Mary to stand beside us and add her own intercession? The Memorare also has a long history in the church, dating back to the 15th century. St. Francis DeSales, a saint from the 16th century, prayed it daily and credited the Blessed Virgin with saving him from falling into despair or heresy during a very difficult time in the church. Another priest from about the same time, Fr. Claude Bernard, is well known for his promotion of the prayer. He credited his miraculous healing to the prayer and then printed over 200,000 leaflets containing the Memorare and distributed them widely. In more recent times, St. Teresa of Calcutta was an advocate of the prayer, often using it when she faced an emergency situation and most needed a miracle. Steven Minnis, President of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., is convinced Our Lady has blessed the school many times through this prayer. In 2007, when enrollment was dropping, he employed the Memorare Army to pray that more students be given the experience of a Benedictine College education. After the 30 members prayed over 1200 Memorares apiece, 1232 full-time undergraduate students enrolled for the fall. He also credits the school’s Memorare Army with assisting with many of the building projects undertaken in recent years.

Will you join us in praying 10 Memorares each day for the intentions of:

Bringing those the Lord desires to this year’s Summit
The successful planning of all of elements of the Summit
The speakers who will share their inspirational stories
An outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all who will come


‘Together, we will leave a wonderful legacy for those who follow’

Most people do not think about leaving a legacy. Perhaps it is because we think legacies are for people with a lot of money or cultural clout, for people who are famous or who have done significant things in their lives.  “How can someone as simple and small like me leave any type of legacy?” we think.

But Jesus did not fit into any of those categories. He was a humble, dependent, faithful and compassionate man, seeking to do the Father’s will, sharing the Father’s love, rejected by many people, willing to suffer and die for humankind, yet the legacy he left has continued for more than two thousand years.

Materially, Jesus left nothing. He left no widow, and no children. He gave away practically everything he had during the course of his life and was stripped of everything left when he died. Yet, Jesus left a greater inheritance than anyone in human history.  He passed it on to eleven fearful apostles who became empowered through the gift of the Holy Spirit and then they carried this legacy into their future. Because of those humble and challenging beginnings, even today, we still draw on that legacy and always will.

Jesus’ legacy has been given to each one of us to carry forward. Like the first disciples, each of us is called into the mission field to proclaim Christ crucified and risen, “living the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.” Christ’s mission has been given to each of us in baptism and strengthened again through the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Lord has promised to “be with us always” (Mt 28:20) never depriving us of the help necessary to carry out that which has been entrusted to us.

The mission statement of the Diocese clearly reflects this:

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.

Each of us must answer our call to evangelize, to share the Gospel so that Jesus’ mission is lived in our own time and for generations to come.

The vision of the Diocese of Rapid City expressed in the Priority Plan also echoes the vision of Jesus and his public ministry. Recall our vision statement:

Reconcile – Make Disciples – Live the Mission. Our vision statement provides the window in which we see our mission. These identifying marks — Reconcile – Make Disciples – Live the Mission — are the foundation stones for moving the diocese forward in the future.

As you will read on pages 1 and 2 in this edition of the West River Catholic, the diocese is embarking upon a capital campaign to assist in the work of carrying forward the legacy of Jesus into our future. To reflect this, the campaign has been entitled: Living the Mission — A Legacy of Faith, A Legacy of Giving. 

Living the Mission invites each of us to personally take up the mission of Jesus, leaving our own legacy of faith and a legacy of giving in response to our call to discipleship. Living the Mission as outlined in the Vision Statement in the Priority Plan is not a project to complete but an ongoing way of discipleship. It is also reflected through the Living the Mission — A Legacy of Faith, A Legacy of Giving campaign whereby our generosity offers us the hope of continuing the mission of Jesus in the Diocese of Rapid City and the Rapid City Catholic School System for years to come by meeting current pressing needs.

The goal of the Living the Mission campaign is $12,000,000 to support a new Pastoral Center, the Priests’ Pension Plan, Native American Ministry, the RCCSS Endowment and a new cafeteria and kitchen at St. Thomas More High School. Again, on pages 1 and 2, more information about these goals can be found. These current needs, as well as future needs not described here, were developed through a comprehensive master plan- ning process completed in June 2017.

Living the Mission — A Legacy of Faith, A Legacy of Giving provides the people of the Diocese of Rapid City a real opportunity to not only carry forward the legacy of Jesus, but to leave our own legacy for generations to come just as those before us have done. This legacy of faith and generosity has been the hallmark of the diocese for generations.

I hope that you will join me in continuing this holy tradition following in the footsteps of our Master, who not only showed us the way, but taught us the way. Together, we will leave a wonderful legacy for those who follow us and the mission of Jesus can become more fully present among us, all across the diocese.

May Christ’s peace, love, joy, and faith reign in our hearts.

Live a life of holiness, live a life of happiness

At the end of February, Adam Johnson, a first-year theologian at St. Paul Seminary, was

Adam Johnson

installed as a lector. As reader and bearer of God’s Word, Adam will proclaim God’s Word in the liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith, and bring the message of salvation to those who have not yet received it. (From the Rite of Institution of Lector)

Andrew Sullivan, who also is a first-year theologian, at Kenrick Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, will be installed as a lector in April with our Bishop Robert Gruss presiding.

Adam’s pastor, Father Brian Lane from Blessed Sacrament Church in Rapid City, along with Adam’s parents, Mike and Kathy, were

Andrew Sullivan

able to attend this celebration of the Ministry of Lector. After the celebration, I sent a text to Adam, his parents and Father Lane congratulating Adam and asking them to send pictures from the installation, which they did.

Father Lane also texted a picture of the seminarian poster for the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul — 59 in all! A true vocation boom. I smiled as I read Father Lane’s text: “Why is our poster so small?”

“More work to be done. More invitations to be extended,” I replied.

One of the goals in our diocesan Priority Plan calls for the formation of a vocation committee in each parish or parish grouping to encourage and promote a culture of vocations.

Father Varghese Srambickal, a Vincentian priest from Kerala, India, describes a culture of vocation in this way: “God’s first call for every person is to simply follow him. You were created to be in relationship with God, and that is his greatest desire for you. As your relationship with God grows, he will continue to draw you deeper into this relationship, and call you to become more like Christ, to love him more, and to love others through service. In all these things, you will experience God calling you to a particular vocation.”

Building a culture of vocations, as we hear and pray our diocesan vocation prayer every Sunday in our parishes, begins by creating an environment where all disciples will seek the will of Christ. This is what the church means by the universal call to holiness. Fostering a culture of vocations in our lives, families and parishes begins with the call to holiness — a deep, personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord, Savior, and friend.

Father Brett Brennan, author of “Save a Thousand Souls,” echoes this as well when he says that our primary vocation in life is holiness, and holiness is simply doing the will of God. When we live a life of holiness, we truly live a life of happiness. He goes on to say that “the primary and universal vocation of every person in the world is to be holy — to become like Jesus Christ. Christ-likeness is the only success recognized by God.”

As Pope Francis said: “to be a saint is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone.” He continued: “We must remember that holiness is a gift from God — it is not something we can achieve on our own.” Holiness, he continued, is living with love and offering Christian witness in our daily tasks that we are called to become saints… “Always and everywhere you can become a saint, that is, by being receptive to the grace that is working in us and leads us to holiness” (General Audience, September 2014).

The key to encouraging and promoting a culture of vocations begins in the family and is nourished and supported in our parish communities. We know the family is the primary community for the transmission of the Christian faith.

Our primary vocation, and the heart of building a culture of vocations in the parishes of our diocese is by living our faith with courage and joy. St. John Paul II said, “Our Christian communities must become genuine schools of prayer where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just as an imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion until the heart truly falls in love” (Novo Millennio Ineunte).

Our first step in encouraging and promoting a culture of vocations in our lives, families, parishes and diocese is helping our people to fall in love with Jesus. We must live our faith with courage and joy and be willing to share with others our personal friendship with Christ.