Our Diocesan Priority Plan was completed and implementation began over a year ago. As you recall, the process of creating a priority plan led to the development of a vision statement. Vision statements reveal the overall vision and mission of an organization. In the words of the late Nelson Mandela, “Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes time, and vision with action can change the world.”
The vision of the Diocese of Rapid City reflects the vision and mission of Jesus in his public ministry: Reconcile — Make Disciples — Live the Mission. These are the foundation stones for moving the diocese forward into the future. Vision with action will tangibly make present the kingdom of God.
The vision statement of the Diocese of Rapid City became the building block for creating the three Diocesan Pastoral Priorities — Reconciliation, Forming Disciples, and Funding the Mission. These priorities serve to guide our diocesan efforts over the next few years. The Priority Plan as a whole describes the mission of the Diocese of Rapid City in many ways. But the mission goes beyond the wonderful ministry that takes place across the diocese. We also have to have sufficient resources, both in terms of facilities and finances, to fulfill our sacred mission. This is why Funding the Mission is one of our priorities.
To move this priority forward, I met with key members of the chancery staff and Rapid City Catholic School System leadership. We discussed the many needs of the chancery, the retreat center and the school. A facility master planning process was engaged over the course of several months, beginning in January and concluding this past June. The purpose of this process was to discern the needs of each entity necessary to continue to live the mission of Jesus Christ throughout the whole diocese.
To backtrack a little bit, much wonderful ministry has happened since we purchased and renovated the former St. Martin Monastery to create the wonderful retreat center and elementary school we currently enjoy. Through the generosity of people across the diocese, we had a very successful campaign in the We Walk by Faith Appeal, raising over 18.5 million dollars. This completed phase one of our diocesan plans. In that process we also helped fund the building of two Newman Centers in our diocese.
But in many ways, our needs have only increased. Our current Chancery staff is located in two places — on Cathedral Drive and at the Terra Sancta Annex. Our spaces in both locations are inadequate and overall ministry is best accomplished when we are all in one place. The retreat center has been a great gift for the diocese. Its use is far beyond what we could have imagined. But for large diocesan events, the retreat center has also become insufficient. The Rapid City Catholic School System has pressing needs as well. High school plays and the many things needed to make them successful are currently taking place in an old, dilapidated gym at St. Elizabeth Seton School. At St. Thomas More Middle School the students begin eating lunch at 10:30 in the morning because of shared space limitations at St. Thomas More High School.
These and other issues were the catalysts for the facility master planning process. This process resulted in the development of a Facility Master Plan for the Terra Sancta Campus looking out many years into the future. This plan includes a new pastoral center and a fine arts/multi-purpose events center at the Terra Sancta campus, as well as additional classrooms for St. Elizabeth Seton School. Rapid City Catholic School System leaders simultaneously engaged in a master planning process for the St. Thomas More campus. This master plan includes a new kitchen and lunch room for the middle school as well as future plans for additional classrooms and a new gymnasium. These are some needs among others identified on the facility master plans for both the Terra Sancta and St. Thomas More campuses. The basic footprint of both completed master plans are below my column.
As I wrote in Through Him, With Him and In Him – A Spiritual Guide to the Diocesan Priority Plan, “While we are doing many great things in the Diocese and providing many opportunities for people to grow in their faith and step out in mission, it is important that all of our efforts are coordinated toward a more comprehensive vision for the whole diocese.” This master planning process has helped to set a more comprehensive vision aligned with the mission statement of the diocese — 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.
As we know, if we are to live the mission we must be able to fund the mission. Although this master planning process was important in looking to the future, buildings are not the complete story regarding our needs. There is a great need to fully fund our priests’ retirement. It is currently funded at around sixty percent. The Rapid City Catholic School System needs to grow its endowment to support tuition assistance and to make salaries and benefits more competitive so as to retain and attract quality educators. Finally, and no less important, as we seek to properly carry out ministry on the Native American reservations in our diocese, I would like to create an endowment to enable us to provide and expand the personnel and resources for those living on the reservations we serve. Our current outside monetary resources are decreasing each year. These are some of the basic needs as we look to the future that will help us carry out the mission of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The needs included in Funding the Mission have been prioritized without having a clear indication of how much money could be raised in order to make these dreams come true. To that end, we sent out Requests for Proposals to twelve fundraising consultants. We received back four responses and interviewed three companies. We have selected Community Consulting Services (CCS) to assist in conducting a feasibility study to help determine what might be possible in terms of raising the money necessary to fund the various needs outlined above. This study will take place over the course of the next three months, with completion, hopefully, by year’s end.
The details of the feasibility study are being worked out at the current time and are not yet completed. A feasibility study will help determine which projects will move forward as well as when and how to proceed with a diocesan-wide campaign aimed at funding our mission.
In conclusion, I would like each of us to remember that first among the Core Values in our Diocesan Priority Plan, which we must embrace in all of our endeavors, is Prayer. In Jesus Christ, the Father has withheld nothing from us, but has given us everything. Nothing is lacking for those who place their faith and hope in him. But without Jesus, encountered through daily prayer, we can do nothing (cf. Jn 15:15). Without sustained prayer we can make no progress in carrying out Christ’s mission. Let us turn to the Holy Spirit daily, asking that he stir up the gifts in our own hearts and give us the courage and strength to step out in faith, hope, love and trust. He will “teach us everything” (Jn 14:26) and “guide us to all truth” (Jn 16:13).
As our Holy Father Pope Francis encourages us: “Keeping our missionary fervor alive calls for firm trust in the Holy Spirit, for it is he who “helps us in our weakness” (Rom 8:26). But this generous trust has to be nourished, and so we need to invoke the Spirit constantly. He can heal whatever causes us to flag in the missionary endeavor. It is true that this trust in the unseen can cause us to feel disoriented: it is like being plunged into the deep and not knowing what we will find. Yet there is no greater freedom than that of allowing oneself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, letting him enlighten, guide and direct us, leading us wherever he wills. The Holy Spirit knows well what is needed in every time and place. This is what it means to be mysteriously fruitful!” [Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (November 24, 2103), no. 275]