About Us

About Us / What's in a name?



What's in a name?

In 1959, Bishop Lambert A. Hoch, the Bishop of Sioux Falls, appointed me to the position of the first resident, full-time Chaplain to the Catholic students at what was then known as South Dakota State College. With this chare and special mission, I was given the privilege of assigning a name to the facility that served as a base for the apostolic work that the Bishop entrusted to me. I was delighted to name the building, Pius XII Student Center and Our Lady of Wisdom Chapel. It was a pleasure to have been a pioneer in what was then termed “The Newman Apostolate.” It was my hope that this facility would serve as a special place where faith, and reason illuminated by faith, would provide students with a genuine Catholic imagination to assist them in their respective journeys throughout the course of their lives. But what was the inspiration for naming the center after Pope Pius XII?


In 1952, Bishop William Brady assigned me to study at the Gregorian University in Rome, with a residence at the Pontifical North American College, with its residence in the heart of historic Rome, at the Casa Santa Maria. In 1953, this beautiful, new, undergraduate house was completed on the Gianiculum Hill, overlooking St. Peter’s Basilica. I lived in the shadow of the tomb of St. Peter for three years, and one year my room faced the Basilica. It was here that Pope Pius came in 1953, to dedicate the new seminary. I was privileged to have been part of this memorable occasion. The next three years continued a pattern of attending ceremonies at St. Peter’s Basilica at which the Holy Father presided, and also numerous public and private papal audiences. One of these private audiences took place prior to ordination to the priesthood and the other occurred on the occasion of ordination, with my parents in attendance. We cherished a loyalty to the man of God and man of the church who served as a successor of St. Peter, whose apostolic mission it was to confirm his brothers and sisters in their faith.


The accounts of Pius XII’s efforts to assist the Jewish community during the Holocaust were legendary. The Chief Rabbi at Rome’s major synagogue became a Catholic Christian, due to the influence of Pius XII. Facts abound for his many efforts-pace Rolf Hochhuth, The Deputy, and so many other critics who slide by the facts that are easily available. Pius XII will be beatified shortly, and the honor is overdue, regardless of the critics who look through a different lens.


Pius XII laid the foundations for Vatican Council II, with the reform of the Easter Vigil and the three great teaching letters or Encyclicals; Mediator Dei, Mystici Corporis and Divino Afflante Spiritu, which was an harbinger for the renewal of Biblical studies, and a source of courage for Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, the Council’s document on Divine Revelation.


I don’t honestly think that there is any reason whatsoever to apologize for the description of the facility in Brookings, regardless of the opinion of the politically correct. The truth will win out as it always does.

Rev. Msgr. Richard J. Mahowald, P.A., S.T.D.


Rev. Msgr. Richard J. Mahowald, P.A., S.T.D.
Rev. Msgr. Richard J. Mahowald, P.A., S.T.D.
Founder and Director of Pius XII Student Center 1959-1965.
Check out our photogallery