The glory of Christ’s resurrection continues to shine on us as we complete the cycle of Easter feasts with the Solemnity of the Ascension and the Solemnity of Pentecost, the two great liturgical days that bring an end to our annual celebration of the Paschal Mystery. Of course, every Sunday is a “little Easter,” and we rejoice whenever we can participate in the celebration of the Eucharist, which makes present the Lord’s death and resurrection so that we can be taken up into it and share in his victory over sin and death.
I am grateful to our lay leaders, deacons and priests who led our parishes through the past year with all its challenges. They did great ministry in a very difficult time. I am also heartened by the number of our people returning to Sunday Mass. Please continue to reach out to those still needing to keep their distance because of underlying conditions or ill health. We want them to know of our love and concern for them. Please also continue to encourage those who can safely do so to join us in the celebration of Sunday and Holy Day Masses.
I also want to take this opportunity to share some good news with you. When I first arrived in the diocese, I heard of the great contributions of the Benedictine Sisters to our local church over the years. At the same time I learned that they were preparing to conclude their ministry with us as they now grow older as a community. Having had the chance to get to know them, I have been blessed by their prayers and support. We have much to thank them for.
At the same time, I also heard that people have been praying that God would send us a new group of religious women to pick up the mantle that the Sisters of St. Martin Monastery will be laying down after their many years of faithful service and I began asking the Lord if he would bless us with a new religious community willing to come to our diocese.
The Lord has been listening to our prayers! In March two members of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary led a retreat for the staff of St. Thomas More Middle and High School that was well received. Following the retreat Fr. Mark McCormick asked for my permission to contact the head of the Servants to see if there was any possibility that they would consider sending sisters here. I agreed and put this request into the hands of the Lord and the Blessed Mother. In a couple of days I heard that Sr. Ana, the Vicar General of the Servants, wanted to speak with me.
After our phone conversation, Sr. Ana and Mother Adela decided that they would like to visit Rapid City. Arrangements were made for her and Mother Adela to come in April. They spent three days with us to discern whether the Lord wanted them to come to Rapid City. The visit went well, and we discussed the needs of the diocese and how the Servants of the Pierced Hearts might be able to help. Mother and Sr. Ana took our conversations to prayer and let me know before they left that they believed they had sisters who could help us in some key positions and ministries: campus ministry at the middle school and possibly the high school, and chancellor and director of pastoral ministries and faith formation on my diocesan staff.
During the last year with the challenges of the pandemic and clerical misconduct issues in our diocese I have been assuring people that God never leaves us without the graces and blessings we need to deal with our problems. I have also been praying that God would do new things in our midst. The Lord has been listening and I firmly believe the arrival of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary is part of his response to our prayers. This unexpected relationship with these religious women of whom I had never heard before has been a grace for me and for our diocese.
Mother will send Sr. Ana back to us later this month with the three sisters she would send to us so that I can make my final discernment and give my approval for their assignment here. Please pray for them and for me that we would be open to God’s will.
Please join me in thanking God for doing something new for our diocese. I would also ask you to pray that I find a house in Rapid City that would serve as a fitting convent for the sisters and that we can get it furnished and have things ready for them in mid-July when they arrive.
With a grateful heart for all the Lord is doing for us,