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Rapid City, Diocese of

RAPID CITY, DIOCESE OF

Established first at Lead, South Dakota in 1902, the seat of the diocese was transferred to Rapid City (Rapidopolitana ) in 1930. It is a suffragan of the metropolitan See of St. Paul-Minneapolis. The diocese includes about 43,000 square miles, all of the state west of the Missouri River. The leading Sioux reservations are located in this diocese. The first bishop was John Stariha (19021909), who resigned because of ill health and was succeeded by Joseph Busch (19101915). John Lawler (19161948) became bishop, followed by William T. McCarty (19481969), Harold J. Dimmerling (19691987), and Charles J. Chaput OFM Cap. (19871998), who was appointed archbishop of Denver ten years later. Blase J. Cupich was installed as bishop in September, 1998.

Of the more that 222,000 people in the area, about 32,000 are Catholic. Some 10,000 of these are on the Indian Reservations: Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Crow Creek, Lower Brule and the southern section of Standing Rock. A diocesan Native Concerns Office addresses the needs of the Native Americans on and off the reservations. When Martin Marty, Vicar Apostolic of Dakota Territory in the late 19th century, could find no more Benedictine priest-monks for the reservations, he recruited German Jesuit priests to staff them. They were assisted by Sisters of St. Francis, Daughters of the Heart of Mary, Benedictine nuns, Presentations and Sisters of Charity. The Oblate Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, was organized at Marty Mission near Wagner by the Benedictine monkmissionary, Father Sylvester Eisenman, in cooperation with Mother (now Saint) Katharine drexel and the Pennsylvania Congregation of Blessed Sacrament Sisters who staffed the school that continues to serve the people at Marty as well as staffing Kateri Convent in Rapid City from which the Sisters tend home-bound Native Americans in the area. At Howes, the Mahpiya na Maka Center, staffed by Jesuits, is a spiritual haven for the Sioux. In Eagle Butte, on the Crow Creek Reservation, the Sacred Heart Fathers supervise the Sacred Heart Center which assists almost 1,000 Native Americans. The Chamberlain Indian School is also under the supervision of the Sacred Heart Fathers.

In 2001 the diocese claimed almost 36,000 Catholics in 97 parishes, served by 31 priests, and 27 Permanent Deacons, seven Brothers of religious orders, ten Sisters and 27 lay ministers. About 15 young men are preparing for the priesthood in out-of-state seminaries. Several congregations of Sisters have a presence in the diocese: Dominicans, Notre Dames, Franciscans, Sisters of Charity, Presentations, Sisters of the Divine Savior, and Brothers of St. Francis Xavier. The diocese has a Benedictine monastery originally from Melchtal, Switzerland. In 1888 the nuns arrived in Sturgis where their first monastery was a former wayside tavern. In 1962 the monastics relocated to Rapid City. There are 36 nuns who share their acreage with retreatants, guests, and groups utilizing their community center.

The diocese has Catholic high schools and grade schools educating over 6,000 students. Between 700 and 800 infants are baptized annually, over 90 adults, and 120 are received into full communion in the church each year. Over 500 Catholics are annually confirmed. Interfaith marriages dominate, 116 over 83 Catholic ceremonies in 2001.

Social services of all kinds, educational institutions, as well as religious and spiritual opportunities exist in the diocese for the Catholic population, non-Indian as well as Native American.

Bibliography: c. duratchek, The Beginnings of Catholicism in South Dakota (Washington D.C. 1943); Crusading Along Sioux Trails (St. Meinrad, Ind. 1947). r. karolevetz, With Faith, Hope and Tenacity (Sioux Falls 1989); Bishop Martin Marty: Black Robe Lean Chief (Yankton 1980). a. kessler, "First Catholic Bishop of Dakota," in South Dakota Leaders, eds. h. hoover et al. (Vermillion 1989).

[a. kessler]

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