During mass last Sunday, we had a whole host of events. For Mother’s Day, we invited all St. Joseph’s moms and house-moms up to the front of Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel, where they were serenaded by our children’s choir and given a carnation in appreciation of everything they do.
We prayed for all of our eighth grade and high school graduates. The seniors will walk up the aisle Sunday, May 19 and our eighth grade class a few days later on Friday, May 24.
Artist Del Iron Cloud was welcomed as our distinguished alumnus for the year. He attended St. Joseph’s Indian School in the late 50’s and thanked Brother Bonaventure for helping nurture his love for beauty. Since retiring from the United States Air Force, Del has dedicated himself to painting, and we carry many of his works in the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center. In a touching gesture, he painted beautiful watercolor feathers, each unique and original, and presented them to each graduate as his way of honoring them.
After church, we held a reception for our five seniors in the dining hall. For each Lakota senior, the time they had spent on campus ranged between 5 and 10 years – so many memories to share! During dinner, a slide show of each looked back over their years at St. Joseph’s.
Instead of giving a speech, each made a short video to share about the activities they were involved in, future plans and, of course, advice to leave behind for those up and coming high school students. The video brought lots of laughter and recognition. Then, their teachers and houseparents came to the microphone and spoke from their hearts about the struggles, growth and accomplishments we’ve seen in these young people over that time.
There were a few tears shed as we think about parting. But, that’s what they’re meant to do – learn enough to start venturing off on their own, with our support and care in tow, to pursue their dreams. Four plan on college, and one the Armed Services.
In the afternoon, the scene shifted to the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center for our ribbon cutting and open house celebrating the completion of our new addition. Mark Shields, who worked on our maintenance staff for over 40 years, did the honors after we blessed the facility and offered words of thanks to all who helped make it possible. I enjoyed visiting with the alumni, townsfolk, students and donors who filtered in throughout the day.