WSDCF donors become the ‘New Founders of the Future’
When former Bishop Charles J. Chaput was ordained for the Diocese of Rapid City in 1988, he came to a mission diocese – largely supported by outside organizations including Catholic Extension. After consulting local people about who could help get the diocese on a firm financial foundation, one name came up repeatedly – Ray Hillenbrand.
With Hillenbrand’s help and the work of several others in 1992 they created the Western South Dakota Catholic Foundation. In 1997 the organization moved to being broad-based and parishioners in the diocese were invited to participate with pledges and planned giving, becoming “New Founders of the Future.”
In the year 2000, Hillenbrand, who was the president of the WSDCF at that time, said, “We are seeking funds in two ways. We have an overall goal of $4M … Beyond this, we have set a longer-term goal of raising an additional $16M.”
He went on to explain that the Marist priests who served in the McLaughlin area had already left the diocese and the Congregation of Sacred Heart Fathers and Jesuit Priests may not be available indefinitely. These religious orders conduct a great deal of fundraising to support their ministries. As those groups have fewer priests to serve in our diocese, the diocese absorbs their ministries which need financial support.
The foundation is a separate legal entity from the diocese. It uses conservative investment strategies to raise money. The interest from investments is then used for grants to churches, Catholic organizations and the diocese. Hillenbrand pointed out in April 2000 that “65% of the diocese’s budget goes to seminarian education, priests’ retirement, West River Catholic, and Catholic Social Services.”
Hillenbrand continued in the 2000 statement, “If I had to define what the heart of the foundation is all about, I would say — it is that we lay people face up to our responsibility to the future of our religion in western South Dakota.”
According to the current Executive Director of WSDCF, Paul Quin, in the 30 years since retired Archbishop Chaput and the late Ray Hillenbrand (who passed away in 2019) planted the seeds for the foundation, it has awarded $22M in critical support.
Quin said, “As we anticipate the Blessed Season of Advent, the WSDCF wishes to invite you to join in celebrating the 30th Anniversary of its founding on Sunday, December 4, at 2 p.m. in Holy Cross Chapel at Terra Sancta. Bishop Peter Muhich will concelebrate Mass along with foundation president Msgr. Michael Woster and the diocesan clergy.”
Following Mass, all are invited to attend a reception honoring the Foundation’s historic leaders and the hundreds of benefactors who have made lasting legacy and bequest gifts in support of seminarians, Catholic Social Services, Catholic education, parish projects, as well as the retired clergy and Native American Ministry.
“For three decades this Foundation has served as a resource to Catholic families who seek to remember Our Lord and his church in their estate plans,” said Bishop Muhich. “What a wonderful way to commence the Season of Advent while honoring the memory and kindness of so many generous Catholic families, neighbors, and organizations throughout our diocese.”