Fr. Steve’s updates

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chamberlain is a small town of about 2600 people, but it’s the biggest town for 65 miles in any direction.

We have a small community hospital here and dedicated doctors. But what many of us in rural America face when it comes to health care is long hours of travel for services that go beyond the basics, and in my case, that includes chemo and radiation.

So my bags are packed, and with Fr. Bill accompanying me, we’re off this afternoon on a half day trip to the hospital.

I’ll likely be out of touch the next couple of days but will update this blog when I get back, hopefully on Saturday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Today, we held our annual Healing Camp for students who lost a family member in the past year.

On South Dakota Indian reservations, the life expectancy for a man is a mere 59 years and for women about 70. Our students face grief and loss much more often than the culture I grew up in.

So, we’ve developed a day of activities and sharing to help students work through this difficult time of grief.

I started the group off with an opening prayer and met them again at the end of the day to close with prayer. In between, our staff ran all the rest of the process and activities.

One cultural tradition that helps Lakota people in their grieving is the “Wiping of the Tears” ceremony.

We had a prayer leader from the Lower Brule reservation come in and hold this ceremony for our little ones. As tears are symbolically wiped away, amid support from the community, it acknowledges the reality of loss, but also encourages mourners to take part in community activities again.

Yes there are tears. But, laughter and togetherness help heal.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 89 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

7 thoughts on “Fr. Steve’s updates”

  1. Father Steve,
    Traveling mercies for you and Father Bill. May the Holy Spirit give you peace and strengthen you. Shalom, Cyndi

  2. Father Steve
    Good Luck today, with your test,etc. That is a good idea for the children, to share and get things out. Have a great day if possible. all our love and concerns are always with you all. I will wait to hear later in the week from you!! God — Bless The Clappers!!!

  3. the power of prayer! I want to let you know, my prayers are with you! I pray your treatments will go well, and the miracle of healing occurs!
    If this healing does not occur, what a blessing to know were we are going! what a joy it will be to see our Lord and God!
    God bless you!

  4. Father Steve==My thoughts & prayers are with you for a successful treatment==courage & peace.May God’s Love surround you.

  5. Steve, It’s been a long time since I stopped by the museum while on my way back to Wisconsin from a journey through Sioux country of the Dakotas.This was in late Sept. early Oct.By the time I arrived at Acta Lakota Museum it had been raining two days,not cold enough yet for snow.What a beautiful landscape the Plains are.Winter can be cruel though.I recall a time when I was a semi driver heading for the west coast with a load of paper.My partner and I used to travel the badlands to save time.The turn-off at Kadoka was our entry point and after filling up the diesel tanks and getting some “munchies” I crawled up into the drivers seat and my team driver got into the dog house to sleep.It was mid afternoon,cold,windy(of course)and the narrow road was snow covered and slick.As we made our way slowly round the curves and up the down hills I noticed something down the bottom of the hill to the south.[comment removed by Administrator] A car with people huddled together in the snow.I coaxed the 48 ft. trailer up the hill almost to the top where I pulled off to the side and pulled the button for the air brakes to hold the truck.I grabbed my wool blanket which I had “commandeered” from a previous journey to Alaska on the ferry from Seattle,Wa.Yelled at my partner to let him know what was happening and headed to the people.An old woman seemed to be the only one of four who was hurt.The young male teen said she complained of a sore back.I gave her the blanket and enquired if anyone had gone for help.Yes there was an ambulance on the way.Having assured myself There was nothing more I could do I went back the truck.My driver wasn’t real happy.The truck wouldn’t pull the grade to crest the hill.Damn!We radioed via cb for a tow and eventually made our delivery,our return pickup of salad (slang) for produce and arrived back home eight days later.The owner wasn’t real happy with me,but I assured them that had it been they lying inthe snow at the bottom of that hill,I would have done the same.They did not reply.ps I drove for themfor two more months and found A driving job near my home.I had a friend with skin cancer.The docs gave him three months and wanted to radiate and chemo and cut.He was a smart fellow though and challenged authority.,I suspect that’s why he was let go from his job as dean of student at a catholic high school.Later to be black balled from any teaching job in the state!Anyhow he made contact with a local herbologist who gave him some salve to rub on his arm where the cancer was .He told me he did this and proyed a lot and damned if it didn’t clear!Well now the docs were all atwitter as to how this could be so they called him in and tried to catch him in legal lie or something similar.He was to smart to admit tothem that anything other than ama sanctioned medicine is the only way to heal in some cases.He later gave me his canoe after having a pacemaker installed and six months later he died from a heart attack while dining with friends at McDonalds.He was 76yrs and my mentor in many ways.If I were the praying type,I’d say one for you,I’m closer to the Indian way and see the truth in nature and the universal truths,so I say to you though it be cold now, there will be a warm wind coming soon. good luck to you. Sincerely, David

  6. Dear Fr. Steve
    I am in the health care business and while I have seen my share of tragedy, there are also plenty of miracles out there. I am praying that the Lord lets you continue your ministry of good work with the native peoples in S. Dakota.

    I am 1/2 native American and while I never had to grow up on a reservation, I can imagine what it is like. To my spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ I extend a warm hand of friendship.

    I will keep you and your ministry in my prayers and may God bless you with a speedy recovery.

    Tamra K

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