Thursday, November 25, 2010

While the temperature was a bone chilling 12 degrees, the skies were sunny and the roads clear as I drove the 25 miles north to Fort Thompson to concelebrated mass. Fr. Bernie began the mass by reintroducing me to the parishioners I already know and cherish from my time as pastor there. His point was that I’m a living example that we have much to be thankful for, especially when we’ve come through a rough stretch of life, be it health or other issues. I know many in that congregation have included me in their prayers, and I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude.

After mass, Sr. Charles had a few turkeys ready, and people brought along the other fixings. About 30 people stayed in the hall to have their Thanksgiving meal together. Some would repeat the festivities later at home. But for some it was their only holiday meal, which is why I find it so meaningful to return to the parish for that tradition.

TJ is one of our commissioned lay ministers in the church. He quit drinking years ago and has sponsored countless people through the AA program. He also has been a great promoter of retreats the Sioux Spiritual Center offers to help people trying to overcome addictions. He said that giving up drinking created a totally new life for him – like being born again. In case I needed a reminder how tough life can be for some families, he said that of the six boys in his family, he is the only one who lived past the age of 32. All but one of the deaths were alcohol related. After he raised his own family, he now has custody of 5 relatives ages 3-8, and is trying to raise them in a safe and loving environment.

Meeting people who make a difference like that on the reservation is truly inspiring.

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 90 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.

5 thoughts on “Inspiration”

  1. Thank you, Father Steve, for continuing to be an inspiration to all of us and for sharing TJ’s story. What a great tribute you both are to the human spirit. Lots of love to all of you. We look forward to meeting you and others one fine day at St. Joseph’s.

  2. Meeting someone like TJ anywhere is a very real blessing. You really find the “winners”..and you share them with us…that makes it even better !
    God Bless and Love ALL of you..
    Mia and Bob

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