Fr. Bob, a member of our Priests of the Sacred Heart religious order, arrived at St. Joseph’s Indian School from Chicago yesterday. Seven inches of heavy wet snow fell on campus Saturday, and Fr. Bob couldn’t make it up the hill to our house! We had to park the car down below and carry suitcases up the hill. One of the houseparents came into morning mass and joked, “Did you pray for this?”
Actually, I have been praying for the moisture we badly need. So many people who work the land have been suffering from drought. Once I heard a native South Dakotan remark that, in other areas, weather forecasters talk of the threat of snow or rain, but here in South Dakota we talk about the promise of snow and rain. We are glad to receive whatever comes! Today the sun came out, the roads started melting, and it was much easier to get around.
After mass, we joined the Afra Home (1st – 3rd grade girls) for weekend brunch to give Fr. Bob a sense of how our Native American students live. Third grader Mariah was a good tour guide as she showed off the home and told Fr. Bob about student activities.
The William Home (4th-5th grade girls) is nearby. Since both homes had many students checked out to go home for the weekend, the two homes joined one another for the meal. Some of the William Home girls started out in Afra, and always enjoy coming back to check in with their former houseparents. The two homes try to do occasional activities together, especially so sisters and cousins can spend quality time together. The older girls enjoy spending time with the younger ones. The tables were filled with conversation and laughter.
Sunday evening and Monday, the SCJs gathered for our Lenten Recollection time. We were joined by the priests who work on nearby Indian Reservations – Lower Brule and Crow Creek – and here locally in Chamberlain. Fr. Bob’s reflections centered around the Earth, our relationship with creation, and our call to be God’s stewards. Life at St. Joseph’s features constant activity, but Bob’s presence reminded us that we all need to slow down and try to listen for God’s direction and guidance.
After we finished, I went downtown to check on the opening of our new Thrift Store. Chantelle, our manager, said that curious folks had stopped in all day. Some just wanted to see how the former grocery store had been transformed, but once inside, they decided to pick up a few clothes or knick-knacks.
Lena, one of our sophomores was tending the cash register and getting on-the-job experience dealing with the public and earning some spending money. The new store has room to set up nicer displays; the objects near the entry caught people’s eye and needed to be rearranged at first, and restocked by the end of the day.