Openness to the Spirit

Last week in Wisconsin was both affirming and emotional. My religious order, the Priests of the Sacred Heart, held our election assembly for new leadership, and my brothers in the community asked me to become the next Provincial Superior.

I was honored to be chosen, though know the position also carries a lot of responsibilities. The hard emotional part for me is that this means finishing up my time at St. Joseph’s Indian School as Director. By August, I will be leaving South Dakota and no longer involved in the day-to-day running of the school. I will become a member of the Board of Directors, however, which will give me good reason to come back to visit a couple times each year and help set direction in a broad way.

So many of our staff were praying I would NOT be elected, but religious life calls for openness to the Spirit.  When I first came to St. Joseph’s eight and a half years ago, I was sad to leave parish work on the Lower Brule and Crow Creek Indian Reservations. But I trusted, and my time at St. Joseph’s has been such an amazing blessing in surprising and unexpected ways.

I will enter into the new role with the same faith and trust and enthusiasm.

One of my main responsibilities will be personnel. My first difficult task will be to call forth good leadership to follow here at St. Joseph’s. We don’t have a successor named yet, and it will take some time to get the right people in place. In the interim, I know staff here have a clear sense of our mission and purpose, and lots of work and vision still to be done with our strategic plan. They will press on in the right direction regardless.

Today at mass, I saw the Native American students who are in the summer High School Prep Program, and I got teary-eyed thinking about the day I will have to say goodbye to them. A couple of them were first graders when I arrived, and we have so many memories together.

Every year we say goodbye to our students as they move on, hopefully prepared to make their way in the world. It will be so different with me doing the leaving… But, the Lakota people don’t really say goodbye. They say doksa, which means until we see each other again.  During the time between, they will be kept close in my heart and prayers.

I will also miss the incredible interaction with our donors. A few stopped by the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center today, tickled to finally see campus and get a better idea of what we do at St. Joseph’s. We have a wide and generous circle of friends that make what we do possible. Their interest, support and prayers inspire all of us to work hard to make the difference we believe we are making.

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.

51 thoughts on “Openness to the Spirit”

  1. Oh my…. I feel like I have known you eventhough never meeting you…Feeling very sad and will try to not be selfish and I do wish you all the best. I am sure you leave St Joseph’s in very capable hand…God Bless you and the new work you will undertake

  2. Well, there is some big news. I wish you all success in your new mission. You have done such great work at St. Joe’s.

  3. Fr. Steve, I wish you the best. You will be in my thoughts and prayers and you move on, and it is good that you will still be connected with St. Joseph’s.
    May God Bless you. Doksa!

  4. Dearest Fr. Steve,
    I am happy for you. The Lord is not finished with you, He has great plans ahead. You have proven yourself invaluable in so many ways, that He has to continue sharing your gifts and talents.
    Life is change, and change is bittersweet. I remember in 2005 when the reins where handed to you from Fr. Dave. We held our breath and trusted in God. He has stood by you in all your difficult times as well, lifting you up. What affirmation!
    In my church, Pastor Tim is leading us in an in depth study of Ephesians; how wide, long, deep, and wide is Christ’s love for us, help from the Holy Spirit, and how our lives should change because of these great gifts.
    Whishing you Peace and God’s speed,

  5. Fr Steve,
    Even as I’m certain the children will miss you, so will I. Your thoughts throughout the years, I feel, have helped me through many a personal crisis. Thank you for the good work you have done for the children, and thank you for being there for me, too! You will surely be missed. Our Lord is not finished with you yet!

    Thank you for your years at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

    Joni Searle

  6. Wishing you the very best for your next calling. I am sure your heart is broken in leaving what must have become “home” to you, but new travels await you and new opportunities for you to make a difference to others who need you. May the next leg of your journey be filled with clarity, goodness, and love. May God bless you and keep you well.

  7. So sad to see you leave St. Joe’s……you have been such a blessing to the children, your staff and those of us that call you friend through your correspondence. Feel so privileged to have met you last year at the Pow Wow! Bless you on this new path you are taking.

  8. Dear Fr. STeve, i will miss you greatly, i enjoyed all our emails back and forth to each other. God knows best and puts us where we are needed the most, Many folks love the children there at St. Joes and you know they will be looked out for with love and kindness, now you need to move on to new things. I know you will meet this new challenge head on with all you have to give to it. Shirley

  9. Fr. Steve…The best to you and God bless you as you undertake the duties associated with your new position as the next Provincial Superior.

  10. SO SAD for St. Joseph’s Indian School — You have done a wonderful job there and so embody the spirit of St. Joe’s for those of us who have met you at donor luncheons and/or pow wows. I congratulate you on a well-deserved honor (your colleagues knew who to vote for!! 🙂 ) and I wish you the best in your new position. I will pray for you and that your successor will have your talent and dedication and love for St. Joe’s.

  11. God bless you as you continue in my home state of WI. I think the world of you, Fr. Steve because you put others first. I am making some changes in my life; I may be living in Sacramento, Ca. in time because of a very fine, funny and brilliant man that I “googled” from out of my past. I will remember St. Joseph’s Indian School. I love the Native American jewelry and art that you have available for purchase.

    Take care,
    Rebecca Rens
    Harrisville, Ut.

  12. I am sorry that you are leaving St. Joseph Indan School, I looked forward for your notes about the school there. However, I am happy that your in my area, Hales Corners. If the is an ‘installtion’ for your new assingment, I will be there. I will still support St. Joseph’s Indian School – they are in my heart, too.

  13. Fr. Steve, my younger brother from another mother. I love you, I thank you for all you’ve done at SJIS. You did a commendable job. You reached out to people across the globe. Best wishes for your moving forward. Jim from mesquite,tx.

  14. Dear Father Steve…..I know I will miss getting communication from you about the progression of the students and all of their stories of their years at St. Joseph’s…..God Bless You and All of the Children….Prayers that a replacement for the children as committed as you, will be found…..Good Luck in your new position……Marilyn

    1. Thank you for your kind words and support, Marilyn! My staff will keep our communications running smoothly, so you won’t miss any updates on the Lakota boys and girls. We are all grateful for your prayers!

  15. I feel the same as so many others..although we have not met in person, I feel I know you and so many of the students. God be with you in all you do and St Joseph’s will continue to be an important part of our sharing. I enjoy the personal notes you send and seeing how the children sparkle with joy. You’re always in our prayers.

  16. Father Steve, My words do not fully express the sorrow I feel for all those at St. Joe’s upon your leaving. I am sure that whoever your successor will be will have a hard time filling your shoes, but with God’s grace and your help that will be a worry of the past. I send my congrats to you on your new assignment and know that you will be a huge success in it. You, and St. Joseph’s Indian School and all the Lakota children are always and forever in my prayers. God Bless you richly for all you do for the children. Now and in your new position. Travel safely through this life, so we may meet again.
    Catherine Bielmeier
    Mission Ladies
    St. Joseph’s Parish
    Wautoma, Wi.

  17. Father Steve, I congratulate you on your new position doing the work of Jesus! Are we not on this earth but to do God’s will? And you are certainly doing that and have done that so well! In all honesty, I feel like I have come to know you even though we have not met. But it has been my honor to communicate with you through e-mail and written notes, and also be a part of St. Joseph’s while you have been there! I am sad to see you go; it must be a very emotional time for you. But you know that God is with you every step of the way, and He gives us the strength we need to move forward no matter what! You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers, and I pray that God blesses you with all the great things you deserve and with continued good health!
    Peace and love,
    Madelyn Mathias

  18. Our family will miss having you at St. Joseph’s. We SO appreciated the prayers and words of encouragement from you Fr. Steve. I had hoped one day to visit you there but it seems I won’t have the wonderful opportunity.
    God be with you on your new journey. I hope we can still stay in touch.
    Your friends,
    The Duffys
    Tom, Holly + Michael.

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