Welcome Bishop Donald E. DeGrood

By Renae Kranz

On Thursday, February 13 our new shepherd, Bishop Donald DeGrood, was ordained and installed as the ninth bishop of Sioux Falls.

Many around the diocese witnessed the Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph. Soul-raising music, fragrant incense and ancient traditions came together to create a day of great joy and moving moments.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre (Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.) reads the Apostolic Letter to the congregation and delivers some remarks for Bishop DeGrood. (All photos by Michael G Brown of Michael G Brown Photography.)

When Bishop DeGrood said a few words at the end of the Ordination Mass, he had to remind himself to change his thinking and remember to call himself a bishop. The experience had clearly moved him.

“God is good,” Bishop DeGrood began. “I’m thinking to myself, how do I describe the experience? It’s like a huge lightning engagement with the Holy Spirit.”

He then pointed above him to the words painted on the massive arch framing the sanctuary and continued.

“At the very top here—I had to check with Father Lawrence to make sure I had my Latin right—but it should say ‘Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.’ And may that be our mission as we go forward,” Bishop DeGrood said.

“We heard from the decree and the beautiful words of Archbishop Pierre [Apostolic Nuncio Christophe Pierre] that we are not only to be disciples but to be missionaries. So let’s unite as brothers and sisters in the Lord to give glory to Him and to spread the peace that He desires for this world.”

Bishop DeGrood says he’s here to pray, listen and learn. He admits there is much to learn as a “baby bishop,” as he refers to himself. He likes to interact and get to know people, so his self-effacing and open personality will serve him well while he develops from “baby bishop” into a fully developed and experienced bishop.

Bishop DeGrood prostrates himself during ordination.

“We’re always going to be learning and the Lord’s constantly going to be calling, inviting us into deeper friendship,” Bishop DeGrood said in a radio interview for Catholic Views recently. “The key is to really internalize the true love God has for us, regardless of how we think of ourselves…And we learn even to live out of our limitations and weaknesses in beautiful ways. It’s learning how to be a child in the Father’s arms.”

Bishop DeGrood’s top priority for the diocese is to help everyone grow in their relationship with God. He plans to further develop his priorities as he takes time to travel the diocese, talk with and get to know people, and settle in to life as a bishop. He will be praying and listening to those he meets to gain insights into the needs of his new diocese so he can serve the people in the ways that benefit them best.

To help us all get to know our new bishop better, Brianna Wingen from the communications staff put together a list of questions for Bishop DeGrood.

Q & A with Bishop DeGrood

Q. Do you remember the first time you heard the Lord speak to you? How did that experience make you feel or impact you?

A. I remember as a little kid when I was playing out in the woods behind one of our cattle barns, I felt a deep desire inside my heart (which I know wasn’t something that came from me) to love God. God’s love for me from my youth, and going forward, kept drawing me to want to be alone to receive His love and listen to what He wanted in my life. It wasn’t that I always followed through with those good desires, but I know that it was something that wasn’t created by me but something of God.

Q. How has your family helped you prepare for life as a bishop?

A. I was blessed with parents and extended family who practiced their Catholic faith. For example, I remember we went to 8:00 a.m. Mass every Sunday and then would hang around after Mass visiting with our grandpa, aunts, uncles and cousins. The witness of family that God was real and very important left a lasting impression on me and helped shape my spiritual life.

Bishop DeGrood blesses the congregation in attendance during his ordination Mass.

Q. How has God prepared you for your role as bishop (over the course of time and the past couple months)?

A. Through the years, ever since I was a little kid, He kept loving, guiding, forgiving and drawing me closer to himself. The closer I got, the more I was willing to trust He would provide for me. For example, as a kid I was afraid of speaking in front of people. Fear held me back from being interiorly free. Through the years as He kept drawing me to face that fear and trust him, my confidence and willingness to speak in front of people improved. This growing trust in God enabled me to say “yes” to His clear call for me to be a priest and now a bishop.

Q. What do you love most about the Church?

A. I love that the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus started. We can trace our roots directly back to Jesus and even back to the Old Testament. Seeing how God has worked through history, both in the Old and New Testament as well as today, it is such an amazing gift to be part of a church where God is the one in charge and leading the church. The Church is not just some human invention but divinely inspired and directed by God.

Q. What is something about your relationship with Christ that continually surprises you?

A. No matter what, God always forgives us because He loves us unconditionally. To have a God who keeps surprising us with gifts of love, forgiveness and grace is truly an amazing thing. I continually wonder when I’ll be surprised again by His grace. I see it as something to look forward to every day.

Q. With a wide demographic (both generational and cultural) in South Dakota, what are some ways you feel called to reach out to the faithful of the Diocese of Sioux Falls to keep them active, engaged and yearning for more intimacy with the Lord?

A. The primary way I hope to continue to reach out to EVERYONE in our diocese is to pray for them. After I received a very clear grace from God to say “yes” to become your bishop, He placed a desire on my heart to pray for all of you, and so I did. Without the spiritual power that comes from God’s grace to draw us to himself, we are left to our own human limitations. With grace God reinvigorates us to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Secondly, I want to get out and meet people across the diocese as soon as I reasonably can. That is why we planned regional meetings for me to meet all the people and clergy who are able to join us for these regional meetings.

Q. How do you want to reach those who are searching for the Lord?

A. I hope to continue to pray that God will dispose their hearts to find Him. I also hope to use the many means of communication available today to help connect with anyone who is searching for the Lord. Through teaching, preaching, bulletin articles and interactions with each other, we all can draw closer to the Lord.

Bishop Emeritus Paul Swain with newly ordained Bishop Donald DeGrood in Sacred Heart Chapel after ordination.

Q. What are a couple books, or other resources, you would recommend to someone, Catholic or non-Catholic, desiring to know more about the Church, the Church’s authority, doctrine, dogmas, the saints, the Mass, or history?

A. Oh, it’s hard to pick just a few, but books like Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn about his journey into the Catholic Faith is an inspiring witness of a man seeking the Lord and finding Him in a profound way in the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great place to learn about the faith. Some find the lives of the saints helpful resources or even books on the spiritual life like those by Fr. Timothy Gallaghar. Of course, one can’t beat the Bible when it comes to the best book ever because it is the Word of God.

Q. What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your ad limina trip?

A. Certainly meeting Pope Francis was one of them because he is the successor of St. Peter. However, I also really enjoyed spending time with our seminarians from Sioux Falls, the young adult pilgrims from the St. Paul/Minneapolis archdiocese, and the bishops I traveled with. The graces I received when I was there praying were especially powerful.

Q. What is your favorite quote, book or verse of the Bible?

A. One of my favorite Scripture passages is Mark 12:30-31, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I love this passage because Jesus calls it the greatest commandment. If we learn how to receive love from God and love others and ourselves with His divine love, we find what our hearts are longing for.

Q. How can we help you adjust/feel welcome?

A. I have felt very welcomed in my short time so far in South Dakota. Your prayers that I will be a holy bishop are greatly appreciated because I know from experience I need God’s grace, and when He provides it and I am open to it, He does great things in the lives of others and in mine.

You can find more photos from ordination in the print and full online version of The Bishop’s Bulletin.