Greetings from St. Joseph’s Indian School here in Chamberlain, South Dakota!
The weather has been beautiful these last several days. The temperature is predicted to climb over 100 degrees today, but things are still nice and green due to the rain we have received.
You can tell that summer vacations are beginning to pick up speed—the interstate is full of campers and cars heading in all directions. Last week, we had a large caravan of 12 RV travelers visit the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center. They nearly took up the entire parking lot.
Our Dining Hall staff is very busy! The Rising Eagle Day Camp for the children from the Crow Creek Reservation is in full swing and students from the Chamberlain area taking part in the PAWS (P-programs and pupils, A-after/before School, W-winners in School, S-success) Program are enjoying nutritious meals multiple times per day. This free summer lunch program is just one of the ways that St. Joseph’s seeks to use our facilities to meet needs in the local community.
On Tuesday, those taking part in the Rising Eagle Day Camp had the opportunity to learn some water safety from members of the Game, Fish and Parks Department. The instructors explained to the children how important it is to wear your lifejacket and stay seated when the boat is in operation. They also reminded them to be aware of which direction and how strong to current is when swimming, so as not to get swept away from shore. They had a fishing boat the kids could climb around in and life jackets they could practice putting on.
We are grateful to the instructors and hope the children put what they’ve learned into action each and every time they are near the water. Lessons like this are very important since Ft. Thompson, Crow Creek, Lower Brule and St. Joseph’s are all located right on the banks of the Missouri River.
This past Saturday, nearly 100 alumni and former staff gathered to celebrate an Alumni Reunion with the purpose of renewing old ties, looking over old pictures to see who could be identified and thanking Mary Jane, our Alumni Liaison who is retiring after 45 years at St. Joseph’s.
The day started at 9:30 AM and went until 2:00 PM. We all gathered in the Medicine Wheel Garden for an opening prayer. Soon after, many former staff and alumni took tours of campus and re-visited the underground tunnels. Some of the alumni visiting campus were here prior to 1970 when St. Joseph’s was still utilizing dorms and an old school building, so they were very surprised to see all of the changes!
After lunch, a group photo was taken and door prizes were distributed. The day ended with an Honor Song for deceased members of St. Joseph’s alumni and their families as well as St. Joseph’s Alumni who have served our country.
This past Sunday, I took some time to visit with the students staying in the Summer Break Home. They have been having a variety of experiences and journeys around the area. They have really enjoyed spending many days swimming at the local Chamberlain pool since a lot of waterslides and other activities were added last year. They have also been to the Black Hills and Pierre. This weekend, the students and their houseparents hope to head to the Twin Cities in Minnesota for some sightseeing.
As you can see from the picture, they were very excited to share what they have been doing. I’ll try to touch base with them upon their return and share with you what they did in Minnesota.
This weekend I’ll be away too as I have been invited to the ordination of a young man in Indiana who I baptized when I was stationed in Houston, Texas. He tracked me down last year and invited me to his Deaconate Ordination and now I have been asked to come again for his priestly ordination and 1st Mass. It will be a very special honor. Please keep Michael in your prayers, that he has a long and fruitful ministry serving God’s people.
I hope all of you have a wonderful week. May God continue to bless and reward you due to your generosity towards St. Joseph’s Indian School.
Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ