Friday I was in Eagle Butte for a Cheyenne River Indian Outreach (Sacred Heart Center) Board meeting. The adolescent program seems stable, and is gaining the confidence of tribal and state placement agencies so it has been running close to capacity. Some youth in need of services have had to be put on a waiting list until a bed opens up, or referred on to other programs. The question we started discussing was keeping the program running as it is, or working at licensing for a greater number of children to meet the need. The tough issue is training and retaining enough reliable staff to keep up a good quality of service. The needs are great, and I applaud the Center’s mission of working to eradicate violence and serve those who have been hurt.
I traveled up and back with Fr. Joe, who is pastor of six parishes on the two reservations the SCJs serve. Personnel is an issue for him as well. The two religious sisters who have worked for many years among the people are both being called back to their community. It may be hard to find replacements, in which case the Pastoral team will have to work closely with the parishes to encourage local leadership to come forward to a greater degree.
Saturday morning I met with a young couple I’ve enjoyed working with for marriage preparation, and spent a couple of hours answering letters. With the previous days’ travel and meetings, I took the afternoon off for some rest and relaxation.
President’s Day weekend is an extra long one for our high school students, who were free of classes on Friday, and again on Monday. Many of them are checked out for the weekend with family. The Sheehy boys are on their annual ski trip to the Black Hills, and the Hogebach girls went to Sioux Falls on a shopping expedition. With so many away, we had a noticeably smaller crowd in church.
Today after mass, I visited the Rooney Home (6th-8th grade boys). I try to have a meal in each of the homes at least once a quarter, to be in touch with what students and houseparents are up to. Today’s visit meant I completed a round of all 18 homes, and will start the rotation all over again. What I noticed about the Rooney boys was that they have hearty appetites. Brunch consisted of waffles, sausage, eggs and hash browns. In some of the homes the kids eat and run. This group ate and talked and ate some more and told a few stories and ate some more . . . luckily they have a little more for food in their budget than the 1st– 3rd graders do!
Our local SCJ group gathers at least once a month, and this afternoon we met to go over budgets for the year. At the evening meal, it was our turn to eat and talk and tell stories. With everyone finished with church for the weekend, there was no hurry to rush off, but rather a leisurely time together for catching up and fellowship. Living as part of a religious order, that mutual support is not just appreciated, but necessary to keep a vocation healthy and alive.