WE are the Diocese of Rapid City

By Chancery Staff

The Diocese of Rapid City in collaboration with the Rapid City Catholic School System (RCCSS) is beginning a new campaign. The planning process for this campaign began months ago when Bishop Robert Gruss gathered representatives from the diocese and the Catholic schools to create a facility master plan for both the diocese and the school system. The call for this planning process came out of the Diocesan Priority Plan.

There were three priorities in the vision that came from the Diocesan Priority Plan: Reconciliation, Forming Disciples and Funding the Mission. Goals were created for each priority. One of the goals for “Funding the Mission” was the development of a Diocesan Facility Master Plan. The second goal involved a plan for funding diocesan offices, ministries and facilities.  In this process Bishop Gruss often said that in order for us to fund the mission, we have to ask ourselves, what is our mission? What are the current and future needs of the diocese?

The master planning process surfaced facility needs for the diocese and the school that were deemed necessary to help us continue to live our mission. The plan included current needs as well as needs stretching for fifteen to twenty years into the future. Some facility needs were more pressing than others. However, in addition to identified facility needs, other concerns for the diocese and RCCSS surfaced. Beyond building projects, there are other financial needs that will assist the diocese and RCCSS in not only carrying out but advancing their missions.

Upon the completion of the initial planning process, Community Counseling Services (CCS), a fundraising firm from Chicago, was hired to conduct a feasibility study. The purpose of the feasibility study was to test the case

elements that flowed from the planning process, helping to determine which elements were most important in the minds of the people interviewed and to determine how much money could be raised to support those case elements.

During that study, conducted in the early winter of 2017, CCS representatives traveled throughout the diocese interviewing 131 priests and lay persons. Will Wisner, the CCS representative, met with people who lived in the hills area, on the plains, and on the reservations.

He said, “Western South Dakota is unique in a lot of different ways; community identities vary with population densities and cultures. I learned there is a need for outreach to bridge the perceived communication gaps between groups.”

The study revealed that the priests and people of the diocese were willing to support Bishop Gruss in his vision and to join the effort of a new campaign. The feasibility study narrowed the list of pressing needs to five and determined a $12 million goal for a new campaign.

CCS was hired to assist in the planning process for conducting a campaign moving forward. Will Wisner, now the executive director of our campaign, is assisted by Kaleigh Wagner and will be joined by two other employees from CCS, all of whom will live in the diocese until the campaign is drawn to a successful completion sometime in 2019. The process began by Bishop Gruss assembling an advisory committee of five priests, two diocesan employees, three representatives from the RCCSS and four members at large whose task was to develop the case statement to be used to conduct the campaign.

Father Michel Mulloy, Vicar General of the diocese and a member of the Advisory team, said, “The members of the advisory team asked: ‘What do we need to live out and fulfill our mission?’ Living the Mission — A Legacy of Faith, A Legacy of Giving campaign grew out of our reflection, prayer and discussion. Any campaign is about raising money. Yet the deeper reality that guides that fund-raising effort is the mission of the diocese and school.  What do we believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to do in our diocese?”

The first step in the campaign will be to conduct a pilot phase with four parishes. Lead/Deadwood, Martin/Kadoka, Presho/ Murdo/Draper and Cathedral/Hermosa are the parish groups that will test the campaign. Following the completion of the pilot phase this summer, the remaining parishes will be divided into two blocks. The campaign will be conducted in each block, one this fall and the other block early in next calendar year.

The CCS team will be assisting every parish group in their campaign efforts. They will train pastors and volunteers and work closely with the people of each parish to make the campaign a positive experience. Campaign pledges will be redeemed over a five-year period. Each parish will be assigned a goal and if the parish is able to reach their goal, 20 percent of the monies collected will be returned to the parish for their own use as determined by them. If a parish exceeds its goal, 60 percent of any additional funds collected will also be returned to the parish. Another feature of this campaign will be the opportunity for ranchers and farmers to make contributions through grain and/or cattle. This will be a benefit to those working the land both in terms of supporting the campaign and receiving a tax credit.

The campaign has two facility projects and three endowments. Creating a new pastoral center, or chancery, is a high priority.  “What people need to understand is the chancery, the office out of which the bishop operates, belongs to everyone,” Father Mulloy said.  “It is the focal point for the bishop’s service to his people in all of the parishes. We have grown as a diocese in the services and outreach provided to parishioners of the diocese.” Due to this growth, the bishop’s staff was split into two locations five years ago. A new pastoral center will allow the chancery staff to come back together so that more effective collaboration can take place between the bishop and his staff. This also greatly assists the outreach the Chancery staff can provide in service to everyone across the diocese.

The second facility project is the expansion of the kitchen and dining facilities at St. Thomas More High School. The growth of Rapid City Catholic School System has created this need for preparing and serving meals in a timely fashion for the nearly 500 students in both the middle school and the high school. Additionally, this facility expansion will provide more meeting and storage space for the growing school population.

Support for three endowments make up the remaining five case elements for this campaign.   Bishop Gruss and the Diocesan Finance Council see the need to more fully fund the Priest Pension Fund. Supporting our priests in their retirement is vital. Our current endowment is not fully funded, and this campaign will significantly impact our ability to assist our priests in their retired years.

There is also a great need to create an endowment to support ministry on the Native American reservations. Father Mulloy noted, “The funding sources that the Diocese of Rapid City has relied upon to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters on our five reservations have diminished over the past years. We must find new ways to supplement this ministry. Also, in recent years two of the five diocesan reservations have fallen under the direct responsibility of the diocese. The diocese is trying to figure out how we can effectively minister to the parishioners on these reservations while supporting the religious orders who work on the other three reservations.”

The Rapid City Catholic School System is seeking to increase their endowment in order to be more competitive in teacher salaries and keep tuition affordable. Attracting and retaining quality teachers is essential to the mission of the school system. At the same time, because the RCCSS is tuition based, it is important to strive to make a Catholic school education affordable to all who seek that option for their children. The endowment will be another step along the way of fulfilling their mission of excellence in education in the Catholic tradition.

“We belong to each other, we are brothers and sisters and we all are the Diocese of Rapid City,” Father Mulloy said. “We have a common mission which is carried out in all the various ministries in the parishes throughout the diocese.” Kaleigh Wagner, CCS campaign director, said that the idea that we are brothers and sisters in Christ is Catholic stewardship. She believes this campaign will be a great way to demonstrate our service of one another, an excellent opportunity for us to come together to continue to live our mission, creating a legacy of faith and giving.

Please, direct questions regarding the Living the Mission — A Legacy of Faith, A Legacy of Giving, campaign to Fr. Michel Mulloy, PO Box 678, Rapid City, SD 57709; or 605-343-3541, or email mmulloy@diorc.org.