In last month’s West River Catholic, I began to share with you information about the envisioning process and where we were in regard to the completion and implementation of our Priority Plan. This month, I would like to begin sharing some detailed information about the Priority Plan for the diocese of Rapid City. When the plan document is printed and disseminated among the faithful, you will notice that we began by clarifying who makes up the Diocese of Rapid City. It is important to understand that the “diocese” is more than the 80 parishes and missions in western South Dakota.
The diocese includes a territory – the land west of the Missouri River in South Dakota – but more importantly it includes all people in western South Dakota. The bishop’s flock includes all the people of God, both Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
“The Diocese of Rapid City, under the leadership of the Bishop, includes diocesan personnel, clergy and religious, members of parishes, missions, Catholic school communities and organizations, and all people in western South Dakota.”
Establishing who we are as a diocese determines to whom our mission is focused. The Diocese of Rapid City has had a clearly defined mission statement for some time. A mission statement communicates the purpose of the organization. Through this envisioning process, there was much conversation about the mission of the diocese. Yes, we had a diocesan mission statement before, but this process has allowed us to redefine ourselves and our sacred mission — in other words, “Why we exist as a diocese.” Our new Sacred Mission is now described:
“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.”
The mission of the Diocese of Rapid City must be aligned with the mission of the Roman Catholic Church which comes from the mission of Jesus Christ — the mission of the Gospel. In other words, the alignment of the mission of the diocese flows from the mission of Jesus Christ himself. Because the diocese is the bridge between the “Universal Church” and the “local Church,” our sacred mission is meant to build up the body of Christ. In doing so, we can engage in a mutually shared vision as disciples of Jesus. We recall that Jesus’ mission and vision is to call his disciples into the very life of God.
Our sacred mission statement provides the framework within which every ministry of the diocese focuses their work in order to fulfill the objectives of our mission. The purpose and mission of every parish and diocesan entity should also stem from the mission as outlined in the diocesan mission statement.
The Priority Plan clearly defines the focus of the diocese over the course of the next 3-5 years. Our values also come into play in determining how we interact, communicate and behave in carrying out this sacred mission. The Envisioning Team has identified a set of core values, selected from many worthy options, which are named, defined and illustrated in the Priority Plan. These values are so important that they should be exemplified in every person, every family, every ministry and every organization all across the diocese.
These Core Values with their definitions include the following:
Prayer — Seeking an encounter with God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, according to one’s own culture.
Stewardship — Living a life of generous hospitality, lively faith and dedicated discipleship.
Solidarity — Recognizing and accepting all people as brothers and sisters in Christ; being responsible for the common good of all.
Mercy — Steadfast kindness, compassion and forgiveness received from God and extended to others
Charity — Loving God and others because God has first loved us.
Family — The domestic church, the foundation of society, a communion of persons called to reflect the life of the Trinity.
The team also outlined many behaviors which exemplify these values. They will be shared at a later date when the whole Priority Plan is communicated.
The next step in the envisioning process was to create a vision that will focus our efforts over the next five years. Why is this important? Because, as the late Nelson Mandela offered, “Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, and vision with action can change the world.” Isn’t this the call of every disciple, to go out and change the world? To live the mission of Jesus Christ is to “change the world.”
Our vision is one which offers a message of hope and opportunity that draws the people of God to something greater than themselves and inspires them to action. The ideas and thoughts that were gathered from the listening sessions held throughout the diocese last summer were instrumental in creating the vision and priorities.
Our vision statement for the Diocese of Rapid City is: Reconcile – Make Disciples – Live the Mission. Vision statements are meant to be short so that they are easy to commit to memory. In being committed to memory, they become an underlying mental picture of what will be important for us over the course of the next five years. This vision statement — Reconcile — Make Disciples — Live the Mission — leads to the Pastoral Priorities for the Diocese of Rapid City in the coming years.
The three Pastoral Priorities and the goals which accompany them will be finalized in the near future and communicated in the March West River Catholic. In the meantime, I encourage each of you to become familiar with our vision statement and in prayer, begin to ask the Holy Spirit how you might be called to engage this vision in a personal way, as well as in your parish community. Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare your heart to live this inspiring vision and pray for the fruitfulness of this important mission. As we continue to introduce the full Priority Plan, I am very hopeful that we will create a healthy, vibrant diocese for years to come — building the kingdom of God. May God continue to abundantly bless you, your family and the Diocese of Rapid City.
The Diocese of Rapid City includes South Dakota land from the Missouri River west to the Wyoming border.