New bishop of Sioux Falls celebrates Mass of Thanksgiving at Cathedral of St. Paul

| Barb Umberger | February 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

Bishop Donald DeGrood addresses children at his Feb. 16 Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Bishop DeGrood was celebrating his ordination just three days earlier as the ninth bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Dave Hrbacek | The Catholic Spirit

Calling children to the front of the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Bishop Donald DeGrood talked directly to them of God’s love and courageously following God’s will at his Mass of Thanksgiving Feb. 16 in St. Paul — just three days after he was ordained bishop of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“I can tell you this, in my experience, there’s nothing like being in love with God, and loving ourselves the way God loves us and loving others the way he loves them. So let’s ask God to fill us with wisdom, fill us with love, so we can go out and courageously do whatever he wants us to do,” Bishop DeGrood said in his homily.

Back in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which he called home as a youngster growing up in Faribault, as a seminarian and as a priest, Bishop DeGrood was greeted by a congregation of more than 1,200 people – from preschoolers to seniors, many from parishes he once served.

He said he didn’t want to leave everyone he knows and loves — his family and friends, deacons, priests and others, but the Lord called him and assured him that his grace would be enough. God calls everyone to his will, and gives love and joy even in the midst of sacrifices to see his will through, Bishop DeGrood said.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis ordained Bishop DeGrood as the ninth bishop of the Sioux Falls diocese. Archbishop Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens joined Bishop DeGrood at the Thanksgiving Mass.

Born and raised on a farm near Faribault, Bishop DeGrood was a pastor, the archdiocese’s Vicar for Clergy and held other roles in the archdiocese. He served as pastor of St. Peter in Forest Lake, Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul and St. John the Baptist in Savage.

Renee and Brian Krautkremer were not surprised that Bishop DeGrood invited students to come up front during his homily and to help bring up the offertory gifts. Their fifth-grader, Grace, and second-grader, Paige, who attend St. John the Baptist School, were among those who gathered near Bishop DeGrood during the homily.

“He often gets kids involved and is great at talking to them at their level,” Renee said. “We’re happy for him,” she said, “but he will be hard to replace.”

Natalie Gast and Brandon Winter, St. John the Baptist, Savage, brought their three children to the Mass. Jack, 6, is a first-grader at St. John the Baptist Catholic School. Adeline, 4, and Henry, 3, are in preschool.

“Bishop DeGrood is delightful — so caring and generous,” Gast said. “He is one of the holiest people I know.”

“We always looked forward to his homilies,” Winter said, adding that they make a point of taking messages from the homilies and applying them at home. “I might say to Jack, ‘Do you remember when Father said this?’ ” Gast said.

“He had a big impact in such a short amount of time,” Gast said. “People at our church have made lighthearted comments that someday he could be Pope DeGrood.”

Three friends and parishioners from St. Peter, Forest Lake — Rose Conway, Paula Daninger and Sharon Voto — had arrived early and found a spot up front. Bishop DeGrood had served their parish for nine years and touched each of their families, Daninger said.

Her husband suffered from declining health and died five years ago, Daninger said. “Father DeGrood counseled me. A big word he used was ‘acceptance,’ ” she said. “He helped change my whole attitude and helped me deal with this.”

Paula McGrath, Church of St. Michael, Stillwater, heard about the Mass of Thanksgiving the previous weekend and the priest she heard it from encouraged attendance. “We are happy to be here,” she said. “It’s a celebration. The cathedral is everybody’s church.”

At the end of Mass, Bishop DeGrood said, “I won’t say goodbye, but ‘til we meet again,” whether here on earth or in heaven.

He added that everyone’s presence was a great gift to him. He encouraged everyone to stay close to the Lord and on the path that leads to heaven.

As he exited the altar area at the end of Mass, Bishop DeGrood held his crosier in his left hand as he slowly walked down the aisle, smiling and blessing Mass attendees by making the sign of the cross.

After Mass, hundreds made their way downstairs to greet Bishop DeGrood in Hayden Hall. The line stretched up the stairs to the cathedral narthex. Some waited more than an hour for their chance to say both congratulations and farewell.

Leslie and Micah Darling were among the well-wishers. They drove 13 hours from Texas to attend both the ordination in Sioux Falls and the Mass of Thanksgiving at the cathedral. They became Catholic last fall, along with their two children, Avonlea, 10, and Fisher, 3.

“He has become one of the most special people in our lives,” Leslie said. “He helped us walk into the Church on Oct. 19, so he spent a lot of hours with us, loving us and teaching us more than we ever thought we could know about the Catholic faith, and stuff that we’ll store in our hearts forever. We think he’s going to be a saint.”

The Darlings moved to Texas just weeks after joining the Church, but are planning to move back to the Twin Cities next month. “We just realized this is where we need to be,” Micah said.

They already have a trip planned to South Dakota this summer, which will include a stop to see Bishop DeGrood. “We’ll come and visit him as often as he lets us,” Micah said.




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