Rapid City bishop says he will move to hospice amid cancer fight

Bishop Peter Muhich Bishop Peter Muhich of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota. | Credit: Diocese of Rapid City

Bishop Peter Muhich of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, announced Wednesday he will be moving soon into hospice care amid treatment for esophageal and lymphatic cancer. 

“Despite the best efforts of my health care team, all treatment options have been exhausted and there is no more that can be done without causing greater harm to my system,” Muhich said in a statement posted to the diocesan website. 

“Therefore I have accepted the recommendation of my doctors and will move to hospice as soon as a space is prepared for me. Thanks to all of you for your many prayers, which have sustained me and strengthened me through the many trials along the way. I am grateful.”

Muhich said through the coming weeks or months, “as God wills,” he will continue to handle as much of the administrative work of the diocese as he can manage “with the assistance of my capable vicars and chancellor.”

“Let us pray that many graces flow from God to our diocese as I await God’s will. I offer all my sufferings for a true Eucharistic revival in our diocese,” the bishop concluded. 

Muhich, 62, had previously announced his cancer diagnosis in a July 2023 Facebook post. He said after several months of difficulty swallowing food, an endoscopy procedure found cancer in his lower esophagus. A PET scan showed the cancer present in one of his lymph nodes as well. At the time, Muhich said he was “glad to learn that the cancer is potentially curable and definitely treatable.”

While asking for prayers from the Catholic community, Muhich also asked the intercession of Servant of God Nicholas Black Elk, a famous Native American Catholic whose sainthood cause was opened by the Rapid City Diocese in 2017.  

In a September 2023 update, Muhich said the radiation and chemotherapy treatments he had been undergoing “took a toll on the body and I am still weak.”

“I am offering the trials of this sickness for a deep and fruitful revival of Eucharistic faith in our diocese. I have constantly felt the Lord’s presence with me in these days of illness and uncertainty. God is good and will bring many graces out of this time of illness if we are open to receiving them.

Pope Francis appointed Muhich to lead the diocese, which serves roughly the western half of South Dakota, in May 2020. He was born in northern Minnesota and was ordained a priest in 1989 for the Diocese of Duluth.

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