Guest Blogger: Fr. Anthony

Greetings from the banks of the Missouri River!  The weather is still mild, which is great for the hunters, but not so nice for the farmers and ranchers.

Fr. Steve and a group of students and staff headed for the Big Apple this weekend for a donor luncheon.  Last year when they tried, Hurricane Irene brought everything to a standstill.  This year they are coming in right behind Superstorm Sandy.  The group took letters of support and encouragement from all the students at St. Joseph’s to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  They were passed out at the lunches so that our guests and others would know that they have not been forgotten as they face the challenge of putting their lives back together.

A variety of things happened here at St. Joseph’s that highlight the activities and events our Lakota students can get involved in.  Our student council leaders went to the state capitol in Pierre, South Dakota to be part of more than 90 schools, churches, veterans groups, social clubs and others designated to decorate the Christmas trees that are being set up around the capitol building.

Our inter-city basketball league is going great guns and we have been able to see some good results.  There was a young lady last year from Chamberlain who got involved but did not seem to get a lot of playing time.  This year when the Chamberlain Cubs came to play the St. Joseph’s Braves, she was part of the team!  She seemed to be the first or second one off the bench.  It shows the impact the program can have because it gave her the opportunity to improve herself and make new friends.  The boys from the area are taking part in the program now and the games have been interesting.

This past Sunday, the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota held a Mass of Thanksgiving in honor of our first Native American Saint, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks.  Several of our students went to the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Sioux Falls to take part.  Besides the Mass, a statue was erected in her memory and honor.  As Kateri is a patron saint for ecology, the group then visited butterfly complex to see beauty in flight.  They ended the day by driving by the water falls that give Sioux Falls its name.  The falls are lit, making for a very picturesque scene.

Recently one of our high school students, Erika, had the privilege of casting her first vote in a national election. What really made it special, however,was that she was interviewed as she came out of the polling area and was asked which issue meant the most to her.  Her response was the bond issue the local high school was trying to get approved that would help fund a new cultural and activity center at Chamberlain High.  Erika saw it as a valuable addition to the school, but sadly it went down to defeat since it needed 60% plus one of all those voting.  It only got in the mid-50% range.

Things are getting interesting for our high school students as the winter sports of wrestling and boys’ and girls’ basketball get under way.  Wrestling started last week and some of our young men are going out.  Girls’ basketball got underway today, which means several girls will be staying over the Thanksgiving Break so they can attend practice.  The boys hit the court next Monday and a good number are planning on going out for that.

As we approach Thanksgiving, it is a reminder of our gratitude for your generosity.  The students and staff  keep you in their prayers.  May the Great Spirit bless you with good health, much happiness and safe travel if you are heading ‘over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go!’

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


St. Joseph’s Indian School

Truly grateful

We just returned from donor luncheons in New York, one in lower Manhattan and one in Melville Long Island. We could see first hand some of the chaos caused by Superstorm Sandy. The area near Battery Park and The World Trade Center memorial site were crawling with utility trucks, demolition and clean up crews, mostly wearing haz-mat suits. When I asked a crew of hard hats staying at our hotel what they were working on, they told me their company specializes in saving and preserving paper. I hadn’t thought about all the valuable and historical books and papers and documents must be in danger from the storm surge. On the way to Long Island we noticed how many trees had been uprooted and fallen.

At the luncheons, all of our donors had stories about being without power, or having family and friends who had suffered terrible damage. Many people were home bound because they couldn’t get gasoline for their vehicles. One family bought a generator after last year’s Hurricane Irene, but after a few days they ran out of gasoline to power it and couldn’t get any more.

Amid the destruction and tragedy, there have been so many kind and generous people reaching out with offers of help. While crisis can bring out the bad in people, many times it shows the goodness we are all capable of.

For eighth grader Elliot and seventh grader Jay, this was their first airplane flight. New York is so huge compared to what they know, and they were riveted on all the sights as we hopped on a tour bus to learn about the history and culture packed into a few square miles. Their cameras clicked away constantly as they discovered places they’d heard about or seen on TV or the movies. The most notable landmark for them was the Flatiron building, which they recognized from Spiderman.

We did a fair amount of walking. We stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to say a few prayers for folks back home. Art and statues and shrines also teach a lot about God and salvation history. With all the buildings, hustle and bustle, the large rocks in Central Park overlooking the pond provided a reflective view of the glory of nature.

Christine, one of our houseparents until she retired last year to be with her grandchildren, now lives on Long Island and brought her family to the luncheon there. She was able to share with the folks at her table the joys and challenges of raising a dozen 7 and 8 year olds in one household.

A joy for me at the luncheons is meeting folks who have been long time supporters of St. Joseph but haven’t had the opportunity to see the school, or meet any of our staff or students. With a group, the time always seems so short as my time is split between many people.

One evening Geri, our Director of Major Gift Services, arranged a meeting with a couple who has supported us for many years and couldn’t make the luncheons. Having a more in-depth conversation with a small group was even more satisfying. I was awed by the many other causes the couple supports around the world, with some tremendous networking to make a real difference in the lives of people in the Third World and in our own country. For all the negatives we can focus on in the world, Thanksgiving reminds us there are also so many people and things to be truly grateful for.