Eye on KELOLAND: A higher calling


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A new bishop is leading the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls.

Bishop Donald DeGrood officially took over Thursday when he was ordained and installed at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.

The event started with a phone call on December 2.

“I didn’t recognize the number so I just put it back in my pocket,” Bishop Donald DeGrood said.

But he picked up the second time around.

The voice on the other end wanted to know if he would accept the appointment to become the ninth bishop of the the Diocese of Sioux Falls.

“After I received the call and I went to pray about it I just had really clear, strong sense in prayer from God that he wanted me to say yes and he’d give me everything I need so it’s like, ‘Okay. This is clearly coming from God so here we go,'” DeGrood said.

Bishop DeGrood grew up a farm kid near Faribault, Minnesota.

He first started thinking about becoming a priest back when he was an altar server.

“The stirrings had been in my heart for many, many years. I’ve been discerning for many years with ups and downs you know because you want to discern, ‘Is God calling me to be married?’ ‘What are my desires?’ those kinds of things,” DeGrood said.

He most recently served as a parish priest in Savage, Minnesota before being tapped as the next bishop of the Diocese of Sioux Falls.

“I’m definitely a Minnesota guy, all my life, but I’m looking forward to what South Dakota life is going to be like,” DeGrood said.

He’s took over for Bishop Emeritus Paul Swain, who led the Catholic churches of eastern South Dakota for more than 13 years.

“Change is good. It’s not always easy. I think this is a great blessing to the diocese,” Bishop Emeritus Paul Swain said.

He says one of the most rewarding parts of the past several years is the restoration of the Cathedral of St. Joseph.

“It’s also a community and state landmark and so we get all kinds of tourists and visitors and that’s a wonderful thing. It unites us a little more,” Swain said.

Kelli Volk: What’s been the most challenging part of being a bishop?
Swain: Certainly the child abuse issue, very challenging and very sad. Speaking with victims and trying to provide some healing to help them to heal.

It’s too early for Bishop DeGrood to speak about the issue at a local level, but he can speak about the work to confront it in Minnesota.

“Coming from the Diocese I did, there’s been a lot of work that has been done to try to not just starting more and more to help with the healing process but, also how do we get good systems in place and make sure as best as possible that these things don’t happen. One is too many,” DeGrood said.

Bishop Emeritus Paul Swain said there were other challenges of the role too, including the merging of rural parishes.

Bishop DeGrood says he’ll emphasize listening, consulting, empowering, and praying in his leadership role.

Even in this early time, his goal is clear.

“My number one priority even as a priest has been to help people to get to heaven. And what does that mean? That means basically helping them grow in their relationship with God, their relationship with others, basically helping people healthy, happy, and holy lives,” DeGrood said.

Bishop DeGrood calls this new assignment a great gift.

“As I look back, I see God’s hand in amazing ways of how he’s been guiding me all along and preparing me for what he’s now calling me to do,” DeGrood said.

It turns out that phone call a few months ago, would be a higher calling.

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