The Chamber of Commerce recently set up a ribbon cutting ceremony at St. Joseph’s Donor Care Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our boys’ drum group – the Chalk Hills Singers – and girls who serve as support singers rode the bus to help open the building with style and festivity. Their songs and participation made the day special. Our Chalk Hills Singers began with an honor song dedicated to the “common man” for hard work, service and humility.
South Dakota Public Radio taped the song as part of an upcoming story. St. Joseph’s high school students and others from the community have petitioned the Chamberlain school board to include a Lakota (Sioux) honor song to pay tribute to all the graduates at Chamberlain High School graduation. The board votes next week.
At the ribbon cutting, I welcomed visitors and thanked all those who worked hard to renovate and open the office. St. Joseph’s Indian School is proud to have worked so well over the years with the Chamberlain community, and now we’re excited to be part of the Sioux Falls community also. Some great, highly qualified staff have already joined our team from the area. Lisa, who was a houseparent for almost 10 years and just moved over to the Donor Care Center, was a bit of a star our Native American students gravitated toward her to catch up on how she’s doing.
After a scrumptious potluck lunch, our students used sage to smudge and bless the building and staff. Fr. Anthony liberally sprinkled holy water throughout the facility. We ended with a circle of handshakes, allowing our students to say thanks for the work these staff do to make their education possible.
Afterwards, I got to play tourist and see familiar sights through the eyes of a first-time visitor. Fr. Jose hails from Portugal. Besides his late night flight into South Dakota a month ago, this was his first chance to see the Sioux Falls area. He was impressed with Sioux Falls’ replica of Michelangelo’s David statue, though he has seen the original with his own eyes. We spent time at Falls Park, from which the city gets its name.
We also made a couple stops on the way home.
The small town of Alexandria, South Dakota, has a Fatima Family Shrine. Since Fatima is so important in his native Portugal, we paid a visit. And of course we had to stop in Mitchell and take in the “World’s only Corn Palace.”