The Seal of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls
In the seal there are three symbols: flowing water, a cross on a staff and a snake wound around the staff of the cross. The flowing water indicates the Sioux River upon which the Diocese is established and the cathedral city is located. The cross stands for the Catholic Church, which is located on the banks of the Sioux. The snake wound around the staff of the cross indicates the efforts of the Church to counteract evil by bringing the “Good News” of the Gospel to the people of the plains. Taken together the symbolism of the Seal of the Diocese of Sioux Falls is this: “This is the Church in the land of the Sioux by the waters of the Big Sioux River.”
Bishop DeGrood’s Coat of Arms
Blue symbolizes Mary. It also points to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” in Minnesota where Bishop DeGrood was born and was ordained a priest. It is also a reminder of the blue color that is used on the seal of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Green symbolizes the Earth, where Christ came down from heaven to save us. Black on the cross reminds us of Jesus’s sacrificial love and that every disciple is called to die to self so they can live for Christ: “The grain that falls to the ground and dies bears much fruit” (John 12:24).
The symbols represent both the humanity and the divinity of Christ and how that relates to the human and spiritual components of humanity. The carpenter’s square and the sheaf of wheat represent the human aspect of Christ and humanity. The letter M, chalice and stole represent the sanctified elements of divine life that flow from God into humanity through grace.
The Black Cross reflects the central theme of the sacrificial love of God. This was chosen because of the motto, “God is Love,” expressed in 1 John 4:8 and further explained in 1 John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.” It is also a reminder that the fullness of life is found when it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal. 2:19-21), for the Christian journey is always to be about conforming ourselves to Christ crucified (Phil. 3:10). As missionary disciples we are reminded in John 14:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Every saint, like Mary, St Joseph, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. John Vianney, received the love of God and shared it with God and others in a sacrificial manner, which serve as an inspiration to Bishop DeGrood. These saints and every disciple are called to follow Jesus’s example of sacrificial love through humble service as witnessed by Jesus when he washed his disciples feet before celebrating the last supper: “I have given you an example that you also should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).
The Sheaf of Wheat is composed of five stalks of wheat. The five heads of wheat are the fruit of the sacrificial marital love (5 sons) that came forth from God and Bishop DeGrood’s parents. Having grown up on a farm near Faribault, Minnesota, and appointed to be the bishop of the largely rural Diocese of Sioux Falls, agricultural imagery is a reflection of his agricultural roots and future ministry. The wheat stem symbolizes St. Thomas Aquinas who, at the end of his life, after having received a vision of Christ on the cross, turned to his Summa Theologica and said, “It is but straw.” This is to be a reminder that all we do in this world is simply straw compared with the amazing love God has for us.
The Chalice and Confessional Stole represent the ministry of St. John Vianney, a farm boy who became the patron saint of parish priests, co-patron of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, St. John Vianney College Seminary and personal patron of Bishop DeGrood. The Chalice is to show the centrality of the Eucharist (sacrifice of the Mass) as the source and summit of the Christian life (CCC 1324). The stole is to display the importance of God’s mercy extended to those in need of healing.
The Carpenter’s Square symbolizes St. Joseph as the foster father of Jesus, patron of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, and Bishop DeGrood’s deceased father. It is also a reminder of the importance and dignity of human labor reflected in the many generations of immigrant laborers in the United States. It is a remembrance that Jesus was born into a human family, and that we too are invited into the life of the Holy Family in Nazareth. The carpenter’s square also is a reminder to Bishop DeGrood of his father’s labor of love through prayer, family life, manual labor on the farm, and promoting Christian values. The angle of the carpenter’s square has the meaning of a rafter which holds the roof of the church, having then a meaning of protection. This, coupled with the letter M and the cross is to be a full representation of the Holy Family in Bishop DeGrood’s coat of arms.
The Letter M is a direct tie to the papal coat of arms of Pope St. John Paul II. He was the pope who most influenced the vocation and priestly service of Bishop DeGrood. It is also a reminder of the importance of the motto of Pope St. John Paul II, “Totus Tuus,” (all yours) which reflects the central role Mary had in the life of Pope St. John Paul II, as well as Bishop DeGrood’s severely-disabled uncle Donnie Noy, who inspired Bishop DeGrood to rely upon Mary’s spiritual motherhood. The letter M, along with the carpenter’s square, are simple symbols to display that the life of Nazareth, the life of every Christian, is to be one of great humility, simplicity and love with absolute reliance on God, so we can be like Mary who allowed the ordinary things of life to become extraordinary through God’s grace.