Economic struggles

Fifteen of our child services staff, including houseparents, teachers and even Fr. Anthony our chaplain, have been taking part in 40 hours of training in LSCI (Life Space Crisis Intervention). This approach helps you to take a stressful event as when a student is acting out or shutting down, and use it as a chance to get to the core of what is troubling them. It takes both patience and practice to make this work, but we have been encouraged by the results. Having some common training also gives our staff a more consistent common approach to working with our students.

This afternoon I traveled west, where Robert Gruss was ordained as the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City. Last night, a prayer service was held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral, but mass today was held in the Civic Center Arena to allow the participation of more people.  The arena is usually reserved for basketball games, concerts and rodeos, but a wonderful spirit of prayer filled that stands.

A high percentage of the West River Catholics are Lakota, since five Indian R eservations are in the diocese. Lakota deacons and their wives offered a ceremonial smudging to cleanse the arena and prepare our hearts for the ceremony to follow. When the bishop elect lay prostrate in prayer, it was upon a beautiful star quilt given to him by students from Red Cloud Indian School.

The three-hour drive to the Black Hills was interesting because I picked up a radio broadcast from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. US Attorney General Eric Holder was there on the first anniversary of the Indian Law and Order Act. He is especially concerned about trying to reverse the trend of unsolved and unpunished crimes of violence against Native American women. One elder gave testimony about the economic struggles many people face. He spoke of the harsh choices families face – do you take your child to the doctor, buy diapers for the babies or hamburger to feed a household of 14 hungry people?

This evening I stopped in a store to pick up a few things and ran into Erin, who will be one of our seniors next year. She just completed her third 6 week summer course in the High School High Scholar (HS)2 Program in Aspen Colorado. They provide an accelerated learning environment in mathematics and sciences for students traditionally underrepresented in these fields. I was pleased to hear Erin handled the calculus and physics well, and had a good summer. I’ll be glad when she and the others return to St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus in a couple of weeks.