In 1989 historian Robert F. Karolevitz wrote a book entitled “With Faith, Hope and Tenacity: the First One Hundred Years of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls.” Each chapter was given an enticing title such as ‘Black Robes in the Vanguard,’ ‘In Habits of Black, Gray, Brown, White – and Calico,’ and ‘the Tinsel Twenties and Terrible Thirties”.
He explained his mission with these words: “This is the story of a hardy and devoted people, many of them bringing Old Country religious traditions and values to the prairies of South Dakota as they overcame disheartening obstacles and persevered in their Faith even when they had no priests to serve them. Fires, tornadoes, drought and depression seemed to strengthen struggling parishes at times, but occasionally the forces of nature or the decisions of men caused villages to disappear and their tiny churches to close.
“With the trials came the triumphs, however, as clergy and laity in tandem provided places of worship and education. Sisters of various orders staffed the schools and extended their service to the care of orphans, the sick and the elderly. As might be expected in any human endeavor, there were a few rascals and recalcitrant – not to mention an occasional feud – but these, too, were tempering, faith-testing elements which cannot be overlooked in a true historical chronicle purporting to tell the full story.”
The author ended his history lesson with the words: “To be continued.” And it has with the same “Faith, Hope and Tenacity.”
Our faith is in Jesus Christ crucified and risen which is lived in the Church Christ instituted, strengthened by the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, and guided by Tradition and the Magisterium. Our hope is in eternal life inspired by the saints, nurtured by prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit. Tenacity is a lesser theological term, yet essential for living as disciples in an often hostile environment which is true in all times. The persecution of Christians around the world today is ample evidence of the need for tenacity. The dictionary defines tenacity as: stubbornness, resolve, firmness, persistence, doggedness, drive, determination, and steadfastness.
To be tenacious in a healthy, life-giving and loving way requires the bedrocks of faith and hope, and the personal qualities of humility and forgiveness. Humility allows us to recognize our need for God and to trust Him even when we wonder. Forgiveness reminds us that we are all sinners and that all of us are in need of God’s mercy.
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