Bulletins (Please scroll to the bottom of the page for this week's and past weeks' bulletins.)

The ordination of our new bishop this past week provides another opportunity for us to reflect on the uniqueness of the Catholic Church. Today many churches in our country are still in their infancy, often reliant on a charismatic founder/pastor. Sometimes these churches flourish for a time and gather large numbers. One of the critical times in their history is whether or not they can transition to the next pastor.

In our Catholic Tradition, we trace our origins back to the day when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter and said, "Upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." The leadership of our Church derives from that decisive day and already includes hundreds of generations. Even in our own Diocese of Sioux Falls, we are already at our 9th bishop.

Over the next months, there will most likely be several changes that usually occur when there is a change of leadership. I've heard Bishop Swain say that it's time for a new set of eyes to look upon the needs of the local church. Of course, those of us in the trenches of day-to-day life in the Church also recognize the need for changes. Some of the changes we will appreciate, and other changes will simply require our acceptance. We will gradually get to know our new shepherd.

One issue that has been perennial in the Diocese of Sioux Falls is the shortage of priests. It was only for a few years in the 1950s that our local ordinations kept pace with the number of priests needed. For most of the history of our diocese, we relied on priests from other countries, from religious orders, and from dioceses that had a surplus of priests. We can no longer rely on any of these sources for priests.

When a number of parishes merged several years ago, this process allowed some priests to cover greater areas with a diminished number of Masses. We are nearing a point when we will have to study how our many people can still have access to the sacraments. The number of priests who are in failing health or nearing retirement age far surpasses the number of those preparing for ordination.

I do hope that we have a practice of praying for vocations to the priesthood and that we encourage men to consider this vocation. Sometimes the voice of God speaks through the voice of someone in the pews who appreciates the sacramental life of the Church.

At the same time, I hope that people in the pews come to be more and more involved in the life of the Church. For many years now, I have been convinced that there are other ways to live the life of the Church, so that it isn't so priest-centered. In the Gospel Jesus said, "Where 2 or 3 gather in My name, I will be with you." He didn't say one of those 2 or 3 has to be a priest. He did promise that He would be present to bless the work of those who gathered in His name.

For many years, I was pastor at St. Joseph the Workman Parish (Huntimer) which has always been a mission parish and has often had short-term pastors. Often when no priest was available and a need arose, the people took it upon themselves to gather in prayer, a beautiful example of being a Church. In many ways their very part-time pastors actually helped the life of the parish as people stepped up to provide formation for their children or adult education. Even now it is still a vibrant parish.

One of these opportunities to grow in the life of the Church will be presented on Saturday, Feb. 29th in our parish Multipurpose Room. “The 99” presents a new way of looking at the very important work of healing those who have strayed from the flock. I do hope that many people from our parish will commit these few hours to this important program. Since it falls on leap year day, it truly is an extra day in the calendar. What better way to invest a few extra hours than to participate in a faith formation activity with other parish members?

I am really grateful to members of our Parish Activities Committee for organizing our Family Valentine’s Dance last Saturday. A wonderful crowd experienced a lot of joy!

Financial Report: Last weekend we were happy to receive $7,805 in the offertory collection, along with our online gifts. Thanks very much to those who help keep our parish fiscally afloat.

A Stewardship Testimonial: "When I remember to count my blessings, my spirits are lifted, and it's then that I want to share what I have."

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