By Barb Arland-Fye
Pope Benedict XVI has named Msgr. Robert Gruss, rector and pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D. The appointment was announced today, May 26, in Washington by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-designate Gruss, 55, will be the eighth bishop of the Rapid City Diocese and succeeds Bishop Blasé Cupich, who became bishop of the Spokane Diocese last year.
Ordained a priest of the Diocese of Davenport in 1994, Bishop-designate Gruss has served in a variety of ministries including as vice rector and director of human formation for the Pontifical North American College in Vatican City from August 2007 to June 2010.
“It is with deep humility and gratitude that I have accepted the Holy Father’s appointment as the next bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City. While it all seems a bit overwhelming at the moment, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve God, the Church and the people of this diocese,” Bishop-designate Gruss said in a statement he planned to deliver today in Rapid City.
“It’s our loss and their gain,” Bishop Martin Amos of the Davenport Diocese said. “I have enjoyed working with Bishop-Designate Gruss as he has taken on increasingly challenging assignments from director of vocations to chancellor to vice rector of the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican to rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral. His love of God and of the people he serves will sustain him as chief shepherd for the people of the Diocese of Rapid City.”
“He will be very pastoral, caring, and collaborative in his leadership as shepherd of the Rapid City Diocese. He will be truly missed in our diocese,” added Msgr. John Hyland, the Davenport Diocese’s vicar general.
The Rapid City Diocese serves more than 30,000 Catholics and 82 congregations throughout western South Dakota. Thirteen percent of the total population is Catholic. Twenty-seven percent of the Catholics are Native American and 10 percent are Hispanic, according to the Rapid City Diocese.
Robert D. Gruss was born June 25, 1955 in Texarkana, Ark. He holds an Associate Degree in Civil Engineering from Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wis.; a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theology from St. Ambrose University in Davenport; and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology Degree and a Master of Arts Degree in Spiritual Theology, both from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome.
Before entering the seminary, he earned his commercial pilot’s license (instrument rating and multi-engine rating) from the Spartan School of Aeronautics, Tulsa, Okla. He worked for various companies as a charter pilot, flight instructor and corporate pilot.
He was ordained to the priesthood following seminary formation at the Pontifical North American College. He has also completed spiritual direction training from the Institute for Priestly Formation.
After ordination, Bishop-designate Gruss was named parochial vicar of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Davenport. Subsequent assignments included: parochial vicar, St. Anthony Parish, Knoxville; St. Mary Parish, Pella; and Sacred Heart Parish, Melcher; pastor, St. Mary Parish, Pella; vocations director; chancellor; Propagation of the Faith director; Victim Assistance Program director; vice rector and human formation director for the Pontifical North American College; and rector and pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral, Davenport.
He has served on a number of boards in the Davenport Diocese: Presbyteral Council (currently serving as chairman), Diocesan Personnel Board, Diocesan Corporate Board, Diocesan Review Board for Clergy Sexual Abuse, Hope & Healing Ministries and the St. Ambrose University Board.
Bishop-designate Gruss was awarded the Chaplain of His Holiness, with the title “Monsignor” in August 2007.