Reflecting on a day at St. Joseph’s Indian School

Have you ever wondered what a day is like at St. Joseph’s Indian School?

Mike serves as President of St. Joseph’s Indian School.
Mike is St. Joseph’s President

Here’s a page from Mike’s book in recent weeks. Mike and his wife started as houseparents in 1985. Since that time, Mike has worked in several areas, including Human Resources and Executive Director of Child Services. He was recently named President of the organization.

Friday, May 16

7:00 AM

I am fortunate to be able to attend Mass at 7:00 AM in the small chapel next to the larger Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel on St. Joseph’s campus. Fr. Anthony presides to a small group of four plus Fr. Bernie, a retired SCJ. The Gospel reading speaks of Jesus saying, “I am the Way, I am the Truth and I am the Life.” My reflection this morning gives me a sense of appreciation for all of God’s gifts, especially this gift of St. Joseph’s mission.

Fr. Anthony ends the Mass noting that high school graduation is on Sunday. We say a prayer for good weather for the event. Everyone on campus is wishing and praying for our nine high school graduates.

9:00 AM  

Mark, the husband of a former teacher comes to visit St. Joseph’s. His wife, Melody, who worked in the Title Program, died on May 7 from cancer. He stops to bring blankets for our eighth grade students.

Melody had been making blankets for our eighth grade graduates for several years. This year, she had finished all but seven blankets. Mark and Melody’s family helped complete her project for delivery to the school.

Mark visited with the students and told them that Melody loved them and wanted to make sure they received a blanket. He also said that working here was very important to her. His words were quite moving.

The students each picked out a blanket and then shook his hand as a sign of respect and thanks. The other Title teachers that worked with Melody were also present. I could tell everyone was touched by Mark’s words and sincerity. It is a reminder to me that our mission impacts many of lives.

10:00 AM

A card from the mail is on my desk. It is from our recently recognized Distinguished Alumnus Sam Dupris. He went to school here in the 1930 and 40s. In the note, Sam not only sends his thanks for the award but also notes his true appreciation for all those responsible for the work currently taking place at St. Joseph’s Indian School. It is another example of the heartfelt appreciation for our work.

I recall his message when he spoke to the students last week. It was a powerful statement of working hard and believing in yourself. In his remarks, he noted how important St. Joseph’s Indian School was in his life. It reminds me that our work has long-term effects on those we serve.

12:00 PM

At noon, I am privileged to have lunch with three of our high school graduates. I have had the good fortune of getting to know these girls over the years, partly because they have become friends of my high school daughter Maddy. We had a nice lunch at Al’s Oasis.

During lunch, there was a lot of small talk, laughter and sharing of stories. Throughout the discussion, I could not help but believe these young women now have a strong foundation. That foundation, provided at St. Joseph’s, is rooted in education and allowed them to forge life-long relationships with staff and one another. Those memories and shared experiences will be helpful to them in their future.

As I drive them back to campus, they have to get going to pick up caps and gowns. Getting out of the car, they each ask if they could come back someday and work at St. Joseph’s. I tell them of course, but we cannot afford to have them eat at Al’s Oasis. They laugh.

2:00 PM

I receive a call from Maija, a high school staff member who is taking two students to France this summer as part of an exchange with a school in Chateauroux, France – one of our sister school partners. She is excited and explains how the French students raised Euros for St. Joseph’s Indian School. This is an example of how far reaching our mission truly is.

End of the day

As I jot down some reflections from the day, it is late in the afternoon and my office windows are open. In the background, I hear swings squeaking on the playground, student voices, laughter and that South Dakota wind. It reminds me that our mission permeates everything we do.

And I wonder why I am so blessed to be given this precise time here on campus today. Our Lord truly is the Way, the Truth and the Life…

Eighth grade students received a gift from a former employee.
St. Joseph’s eighth grade students received blankets from a former employee who recently passed away. Her husband presented the gifts to the Lakota students.

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.

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