Fr. Steve’s updates

Fr. Anthony and catechists have been working with this group of students all year to prepare them. They were both ready and excited. Bolstered by the families of the children who received sacraments of initiation, the church was full.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Today, we had a joyful celebration at church – 11 baptisms and 21 first communions!

Fr. Anthony and catechists have been working with this group of students all year to prepare them. They were both ready and excited. Bolstered by the families of the children who received sacraments of initiation, the church was full.

After the round of photos, I heard one youngster remark there were so many flashing bulbs they felt like a Hollywood star. Our dining hall staff prepared a delicious dinner for everyone to share afterwards.

It was my privilege to be at the baptismal font, scooping water over their heads with both hands. Besides making sure they clearly heard the words, I made sure they’d remember getting good and wet!

We hope the spiritual side of our programs helps give these young people an anchor for the future. When times get tough in life, I pray they will have God’s strength to call and draw upon.

Fisher & Stevens Homes had a cookout this evening and invited me to join them.

The constant South Dakota wind announced her presence by blowing our plates around as soon as hot dogs and BBQ were no longer there to weigh them down. Sitting around the picnic tables and talking with students and staff felt relaxing and familiar.

When I’m away, I miss those moments!

Fr. Steve’s updates

Back at St. Joseph’s for the weekend! I didn’t always find out a lot new because the conversation quickly turned to my treatments and prognosis. It would have been easier to share all at once, but in each home I repeated the process.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Back at St. Joseph’s for the weekend!

It’s been four weeks since I’ve been gone. It felt so good to sleep in my own bedroom.

Even better was the chance to enjoy the warm sunny day by walking around campus and stopping in at many of the homes to visit students and houseparents and find out how they’re doing.

I didn’t always find out a lot new because the conversation quickly turned to my treatments and prognosis. It would have been easier to share all at once, but in each home I repeated the process.

Staff have been concerned about me and praying for me and seemed relieved that I’m able to be out and about and still have energy and an upbeat spirit. And, God willing I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to make the rounds more regularly.

I only encountered four girls in the Summerlee Home, but saw a softball and gloves in the yard and quickly organized a little batting practice. When pitching to younger kids, the challenge of pitching is not to try to get it past them, but to try to figure out where they swing so the ball has a better chance of hitting the bat.

Since they started intramural games last week, a few of the girls looked like batting champs!

Fr. Steve’s updates

I am so thankful for our many donors who make sacrifices for the children so we have the resources to run our programs and meet the needs of our students and the outreach programs on the reservations

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Back at St. Joseph’s, our board of directors met today. It felt odd not to be leading the agenda. I had treatment and consultations in the morning, so I had to limit my participation to phoning in during the afternoon.

Our budget for next year was approved. Many charities have really suffered through the economic downturn, but we’ve continued to be blessed with good resources.

I am so thankful for our many donors who make sacrifices for the children so we have the resources to run our programs and meet the needs of our students and the outreach programs on the reservations.

A youth group from the Lutheran church, mostly junior high students, served us supper tonight. I was impressed with the seventh grade boy who made the tater tot casserole on his own.

One of the girls pulled out a prayer card and did a quick interview with me so she knew who she was going to be praying for. The church organist played some lively tunes on the piano.

I was impressed with the way the chaperones and youth minister encouraged the young people to interact and mingle – and to teach them the value of reaching out to others.

I’m starting to feel the fatigue factor so many people said I would encounter by the third week. Energy has deserted me.

But, I know friends, family and the Lord will not desert me, which gives me strength to keep going.

Fr. Steve’s updates

I’ve received piles of get well cards and letters. People share their own struggles to overcome, offer prayers and hope, advice and recipes, cartoons and pictures, prayer books and medals, and even some original art work.

Monday, April 5, 2010

When Brother Clay left this morning, he made sure I had the large box with my mail from the past three weeks.

Again, I’ve received piles of get well cards and letters. People share their own struggles to overcome, offer prayers and hope, advice and recipes, cartoons and pictures, prayer books and medals, and even some original art work.

I was torn between reading through them and watching the White Sox opening day on TV. So, I did both.

Baseball is a leisurely game, and doesn’t require constant attention, so I sat down in the common room with my box and started reading. When the game got exciting, I paid closer attention, and during the lulls, I read a few more notes.

Some were from names I recognized right away, but many shared this common sentiment – “although we’ve never met, through your letters I feel like we’re old friends and I just wanted you to know we’re thinking of you …”

There are so many folks who, over the years, have been such a blessing to St. Joseph’s and now are a real blessing to me.

I had the first seven innings to myself and the letters. The last two innings, I was joined by a couple of other sports fans who came back from their treatments; the talk turned more to baseball and a little to sharing our medical stories.

My team won, and it was a lovely way to spend a good part of the afternoon.