What a great week at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Good day from St. Joseph’s Indian School.

It has been a busy, and snowy, last few days at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

On Friday, we were scheduled to send 12 hand game participants and 17 archery contestants to Rapid City, South Dakota to take part in the 40th Annual Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI), but the roads were projected to be too dangerous to travel. LNI is a yearly gathering of Native Americans to take part in arts and crafts competition along with athletic, cultural and language contests.

Our Knowledge Bowl participants headed out on Thursday, so they were able to compete over the weekend. St. Joseph’s team earned 3rd place overall! Lily and Justin, two of our high school students, were awarded 1st place
in Grammar and Literature, respectively. We are so very proud of them.

Continue reading “What a great week at St. Joseph’s Indian School!”

St. Joseph’s Participates in Girls on the Run!

Hi All!

My name is Kelli. I serve as St. Joseph’s Indian School’s Development/Child Services Liaison… which means that I get to spend time with the children at St. Joseph’s on a regular basis. Pretty cool!

Recently, I was able to spend 10 weeks with our 4th and 5th grade girls through our Girls on the Run Program.

dsc_0003Girls on the Run is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to creating a world where every girls knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.

Continue reading “St. Joseph’s Participates in Girls on the Run!”

Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown, Girls on the Run, Flat Francis and Healing at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Greetings from a snowy St. Joseph’s Indian School.

We were lucky it was not snowing on Sunday when our students and staff returned to campus after Thanksgiving Break, but the weather has been making up for it since with wind, snow and low temperatures.

Break Home

While everyone was away for the holiday, it was rather quiet here on campus.  We only had a few students in the Break Home, but they enjoyed themselves.  On Black Friday, they Continue reading “Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown, Girls on the Run, Flat Francis and Healing at St. Joseph’s Indian School!”

Inspiration at the end of the week

Yesterday, I was off campus to attend a diocesan sponsored workshop on preaching. Most surveys on religion highlight the need for improved quality of preaching across denominational lines. I was inspired by hearing how others approach their homilies. One priest starts every preparation period with the prayer, “O God help me to love these people and give them the very best I can.”

In addition to prayer, a good preacher must also know the needs of their congregation, and what issues and concerns are closest to their hearts. The day reinforced the urgency and importance of sharing the good news of the gospel. While most of my homilies are geared toward the Lakota (Sioux) children at St. Joseph’s Indian School, that may even take on greater importance because they soak in all that we say (and especially all we do).

St. Joseph the Carpenter was skilled with tools of his trade. In preparation for the feast of St. Joseph the Worker (May 1), our religious education classes have embarked on a service project. They are building a tool shed. When it’s finished, they will donate it to the local crisis center in Chamberlain, which provides shelter for families suffering from domestic violence.

It’s interesting to watch how some kids dive right in and really enjoy such a hands on project, knowing that it will be doing a lot of good for others.

The Lakota children are helping build a shed in service to the community.
Anthony and Daryl stand in the framework of the soon-to-be shed for the local crisis center.

About 30 students of all ages recently gathered in our skating room. The occasion? The annual rib feed hosted by one of our long time houseparents, Steve! Each year around his birthday, Steve invites all the Native American students on campus for whom he has been a houseparent.

The menu is always the same – his mouthwatering BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, baked potato and topped off with his Butterfinger cake. It’s a delightful reunion and students share memories of their homes in their days with Steve. Often, houseparents will work with sibling groups over the years, and I noticed family members who are now spread out in different homes because of their ages sitting next to one another and enjoying some of the comforts of real family bonding.

Guest Blogger: Shana

Hello! It’s me, Shana, High School Residential Director blogging again. I hope everyone’s summer is going well!

It’s been incredibly hot here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, but our facilities crew is working hard to make sure everything is ready for our students’ return in three weeks. We truly appreciate their hard work during these hot days. We’ve kept busy this summer as our summer program for first through eighth grades ended last week; our High School Summer Transitional Living Program ends next week, July 27.

The high school students have been working at their summer jobs in order to earn extra money. One student even took some time to go with our Transition Specialist to visit the community college she plans to attend next year. The students have also made some time for fun! With the heat, going to the movies has been the entertainment of choice. Our students are very ready to go home and have  a few weeks’ vacation before they need to return to campus for our upcoming school year. It doesn’t seem possible that school is right around the corner!

Our Admissions Board met this week to review applications and select new students for our upcoming school year. This is always a time consuming and heartfelt process as we learn about the needs of both the student and their family. It’s difficult to know that we don’t have room for everyone, but we do our best. It’s wonderful to learn that so many students are very eager and excited about the possibility of coming to St. Joseph’s – many have family or friends who are current or former students, and have received great recommendations about our school and home living programs.

Currently we’re busy getting things ready for both our houseparents and students. New Staff Orientation is less than two weeks away! We have some great new staff coming to our St. Joseph’s family.

We’re also getting our homes ready for students; our High School Program offers a ‘Sports Home’ for those students who need to return before school begins in order to start their fall sports practices. We have several boys and girls involved in football and volleyball and a few who run cross country. We have a home for the boys and one for the girls – it’s a relaxing week for the students before they have to get back to the ‘grind’ and start doing homework again.

I hope everyone is keeping cool and enjoying their summer!

Rising Eagle Day Camp comes to an end

Native American boy getting on to school bus.
See you next year, camp friends!

It’s been a great month with kids from the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation and then kids from the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation. For our two weeks with Crow Creek, 428 students attended. Added to the 455 from Lower Brule, we were able to serve 883 Native American children through Rising Eagle Summer Day Camp! Wopila tankamany thanks – for your generosity in making this program possible!

Monday was a very hot and beautiful day with 38 children for today’s camp.

We had outside fun with Mark and arts & crafts with the group from Scranton Prep today. We swam in the afternoon and had snacks before we headed back to Lower Brule. The staff is doing a super job!

Tuesday started out cool in Lower Brule but ended up very hot!

We had 34 children for camp today. The children had a nice nature walk with Mark this morning before it got too hot. This afternoon we enjoyed a nice swim and watched a movie in air conditioning.

We had our usually healthy snacks and a special ice cream cone treat. Thanks to the dining hall staff for the ice cream! Camp staffers even enjoyed an ice cream cone, as everyone was very hot.

Wednesday turned unbelievably cool for this time of year! 26 children joined us for camp today. Mark had them inside the gym today because of the cool weather. We played dodge ball and other games.

LaRayne and April had Lakota Studies for the kids in the afternoon, followed by swimming as usual.

Thursday was the first real full day of summer; it was beautiful outside!

We picked up 35 children today, which gives us a total of 414 children so far from Lower Brule. Sticking with our routine, we had outside fun with Mark followed by arts & crafts with the Scranton group. After lunch came swimming; the pool has definitely been used to its potential! 

Friday was our last day of camp for 2012.

Serving those who have been hurt

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.

Enrichment activity at St. Joseph’s Indian School

Hello everyone from the Rec Center staff,

John playing a "Minute To Win It" game.
Our American Indian youth love playing these games!

Hey, did you know that on Wednesday nights St. Joseph’s Indian School has a night of activities for the homes called “Enrichment Night?” That’s where we get two homes from each community, for two hours that night and either teach them a new game or revive an old game for fun. We work on teamwork and certain skills. We also have “Enrichment Swims” going on at the same time for different homes.

Most recently, at our 6:00 pm time slot, we had our 1st – 3rd grade homes (Raphael & Afra) for our Enrichment Night Activities. They played a game that some of you might know from TV, “Minute To Win It.”  One game we played was call “Loner” which is when one person has to roll one marble at a time to knock down a pencil standing 15 feet  away in one minute!

Savannah did a good job in the “Bite Me” game and Trinity and Jarrett were excellent in their games as well. Even the houseparents were involved in some of the games as well. Thanks to Aleece, Leonard and Christine and Mike for all their help. We also played, “Stack Attack” and “Movin’ On Up,” which are plastic cup games.

The 7:15 pm time slot was with the 6th – 8th grade homes (Rooney & Fisher) who were involved as well last night. They were involved in a different night of activities. We called them “Tag Games.” “Swatter Tag” was a big hit with Josh and Adrian and the game called “Dead Ant” was a smash with the boys as well. Jeremiah and William were really into the game “Frogger.” These are games that build teamwork and are fun at the same time. Thanks to houseparents Tony and Roman for their help.

Next week for Enrichment activities at 6:00pm, we will have the 4th and 5th grade homes (Cyr and Perky) and at 7:15pm we will have the 6th – 8th grade girl homes (Mathias & Stevens).

Thank you,

Your friends in the Rec Center

Welcome back everyone

After a two-week vacation, our Native American students returned to St. Joseph’s campus shortly after noon when our homes opened.

Today, was still the legal holiday for our year round staff, so morning was very quiet in the office. I’m going to miss the uninterrupted times to work on projects. But, I missed the students and child services staff being away even more, and was delighted to welcome them back.

I made rounds of most of the homes. Early in the afternoon, when only a handful of students were back, proved to be a good time to check in with houseparents about their holiday break. Closer to supper time, more of the children were around. Some were unpacking or doing laundry. Since our students come from across the state, they may not get to see each other when they are home. Many were checking in with the friends they hadn’t seen in a while.

All of the kids were so happy to be back at St. Joseph's Indian School.
All of the kids were so happy to be back at St. Joseph's Indian School.

Twenty-six degrees seems cold, but when I came by the football field,  the Ambrose boys (1st-3rd grade) were out under the lights and were having a great time tossing a ball around and dreaming of one day playing in a Bowl game. I’m glad that our students are more likely to play games outside than watch them on TV. I am concerned that when like most kids, they have a tendency to overdo the video games.

The health center was a hub of activity. After each student dropped their belongings at their homes, they came to see our nurses for a brief examination, a screening for head lice and a check on medications, cuts, bruises or injuries needing attention. We try to keep a close check on health issues, fully buying into the maxim that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Semester breaks are also times of student transitions. I met Kayla and Anthony, two of the new students we accepted from our waiting list once we had an opening. They are both excited about the opportunities here and scared about how they will fit in. I tried to learn their names right away. It’s important as a child when adults know you as an individual and can call you by name. (Something biblical about that as well!)

School starts tomorrow. Welcome back everyone!

Focusing on faith

Greetings everyone, Richard here! May I wish you all a blessed Christmas time and my prayers for all to have a healthy and joyous new year. Now that the frenzy of shopping hopefully is over … except for the returns … let us take a moment to reflect of the meaning of this season and what the message of the Gospels is all about. Christ came in peace and lived in peace, yet His simple message has eluded humanity since His birth.

On December 11, in the Chapel of our Lady of the Sioux, we had the First Rite of the RCIC program. It is the Rite of Welcoming. We had twenty-five Lakota (Sioux) students partake in this ceremony conducted by Fr. Steve. This is the Rite where students ask to join the community in learning about becoming Catholic. The students ask for acceptance and the community pledges to support their endeavors. The community also prays that I be guided in teaching the students about faith issues. As part of the Rite. Fr. Steve blessed their senses and their hands and feet so they may walk in the path of Jesus. Each student at the conclusion received a Bible for them to read, as we journey on path to receiving First Holy Communion.

Before break, Fr. Anthony conducted class Masses for the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.  Each class had their own Mass in the morning before the start of the day. The students reflected on the experience and all said it was the best Mass they ever attended. They liked the shared intimacy and members of each class helped serve and did the readings of the day. It was a good experience for the students.

Before break, we also had confessions for the students. Many students who are not Catholic also attended and had the chance to speak and pray with the priest in the confessional; it gives the student an opportunity to focus on their spiritual development.

Until next year!