Staff, students and animals in the school’s programs came together at the center of St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus on October 4, Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment. Even the squirrels paused their high-speed food-stashing activity for the morning’s observance.
At the center of the Wisdom Circle, Chaplin Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ, led the prayer and blessed some of the animals who grace St. Joseph’s homes and campus daily. The traditional Catholic blessing harmonizes with the Lakota teaching Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ, a prayer of oneness with all creation.
First blessed were the horses, who took a break from nibbling on the dewy grass for the prayer and holy water. The Lakota, Dakota and Nakota tribes represented at St. Joseph’s regard animals at a deep level. In particular, they revere the šúŋkawakȟán — horse — for its grace, bravery and ability to assist in healing from trauma, anxiety, and mental and emotional distress. The two horses, Sox and Gramma, are in the school’s Equine Therapy program.
Two dogs, Finn and Penny, from the Houseparents and Pets in (HAPI) Homes program, also received blessings. Houseparent Robbie Chatman held her dog, Penny, a copper and white dachshund.
“We have a lot of fun,” she said. “The boys are always trying to rename her dime or quarter, but she is Penny.”
The šúŋka — dog — has long played an essential role in Native American society and culture. Before the arrival of the horses to the Great Plains, Native Americans relied heavily on dogs for a variety of tasks. Although the relationship has morphed over time, the connection remains strong.
The school has found both animal programs beneficial to the students, and students often gravitate to the dogs or horses when they want companionship, or “just a wet kiss,” as one first-grader said of Finn on this morning.
4 thoughts on “Blessing the Animals Says Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ at St. Joseph’s Indian School”
Love the horses and all of the people. You all are great and I will continue to send clothes and even new shoes and socks for winter!
Love this, St.Joseph’s my favorite charitable organization, bless you for all you do for our “American” People of the Indian nation…
You all are great and I love to send items of clothing to help stay warm or cool.I will continue to send items so you can have these and not have to buy any at all.
God Bless all of you.
Please let me know f any items you would like to have and the size of them also!