To make a difference on Indian reservations

On the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, there are only two priests serving eight parishes. Sister Anne was scheduled to have a communion service in Cherry Creek today, so I volunteered to ride along and have mass.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

On the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, there are only two priests serving eight parishes. The furthest parish is 90 miles away! Because of this, it’s not possible to have mass at all the churches every Sunday. Sister Anne was scheduled to have a communion service in Cherry Creek today, so I volunteered to ride along and have mass.

Cherry Creek is one of the oldest communities in the area and also one of the poorest and more isolated ones. Many of the families had gone to Dupree for a powwow and the centennial celebration, so we had a very small crowd in church … only eight people!

After driving 45+ miles for a small crowd, I felt tempted to look out at the empty church and ask, “Why am I here?” But, I came to the point where I could usually look at the same small crowd, know the suffering in people’s lives and think, “This is why I’m here – to make a difference in an area where it’s difficult to get any services, let alone religious outreach.”

After church, Sister Anne put on a pot of chili, and we went to the hall and visited with the parishioners. Each day can be a struggle to get by, and I did my best to listen and encourage.

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.

2 thoughts on “To make a difference on Indian reservations”

  1. I too have driven long distances in difficult weather to minister to only a few. I keep remembering what Jesus said when he made us aware of the fact that when two or three are gathered in His name, He is there also. Having done ministry in the East, it is hard for many to understand how isolated parts of the West are. I was not prepared for the vastness of this Western land, and how lonely one can be.

  2. Father Steve..you are never blind..never deaf to the hearts of people.
    Crowds do not necessarily mean more..to God. Your incessant understanding of that is leading to Truth for the world…You may not see it now..but it is there…and it will bloom.
    What you do can be difficult..but you sing while you do it…and God calls that..”Good”….!….
    Love and Blessings..
    Mia and Bob

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