Christmas and Basketball at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Good day from St. Joseph’s Indian School.

These past few days have been cold and windy… but there has been no heavy snow, which had closed the Interstate the previous week.  The cold has kept the Missouri River frozen, which is what those who will be taking part in the ice fishing tournament next weekend like to hear.

Since St. Joseph’s students are away from campus for Christmas spending time with friends and family, we celebrated Christmas here the first Sunday after they returned (January 8).  I was wondering what we should call the day and a young student came up to me and said, ‘happy St. Joseph’s Christmas!’  It is as good a name as anything else! Continue reading “Christmas and Basketball at St. Joseph’s Indian School!”

Programs and Helping Others at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Holiday greetings from St. Joseph’s Indian School here on the banks of the ‘frozen’ Missouri River!

There was an article in our local newspaper about ice fisherman enjoying this time of year, as they can now get out on the ice and have some fun.

As you may have seen on local weather reports, the upper Midwest has been blasted.  Last week, a rain and ice storm closed the Interstate all the way from Chamberlain to the Wyoming border.  The weather is predicted to be nice now until Tuesday.  We hope this is correct since Monday is the scheduled day for our students to return and we do not want them to be out in a storm trying to get back to campus.  Please pray for good weather on Monday as our students travel back to St. Joseph’s.

Aside from the weather, the holiday break seems to have been rather peaceful here.  We’ll be hitting full stride again on Tuesday when we have the Prayer Service to kick off the third quarter of the school year.


Since it has been rather quiet on campus, I want to take this chance to bring you up-to-date on various activities our students were engaged in this month.  In mid-December, the students took part in the annual Christmas program, where those who have been practicing musical instruments get the chance to share their newfound skills with staff and their peers. Each class also recited a poem or sang a song.

This year each song, poem or musical number was introduced, giving some background on who wrote the song or poem or where a musical number was first performed.  The talent was impressive—there were songs done on the pipe organ, drums, flute, trumpet, guitar and clarinet under the guidance of our music instructor.

The students were very happy to see that several family members were able to attend the performance!


On Sunday, December 4th, a good number of our students took part in Dancing Dolls & Dudes! Dancing Dolls & Dudes is a dance group that includes dancers from pre-kindergarten through 6th grade. Each age group performed a few routines for the crowd.

For boys, this is the second year that they have been able to participate. 10 St. Joseph’s young men decided to take part.

The Chamberlain Armory was packed with proud parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and houseparents for the recital.  As you watched, you could tell that a lot of time and effort had gone into the production—each group even had their own costumes!

Two of the adult leaders were members of St. Joseph’s staff and some of our high school girls even got involved as dance instructors for various groups.

We are so proud of everyone that took part!


As Christmas is more than just gifts, decorations and special music, it was nice to see the young ladies of Summerlee Home get into the spirit of giving and helping others.  Their houseparent, Vicki, has been down with some medical issues and they wanted to help with her medical bills.

The girls created six baskets filled with various goodies, treats, games and a trip to the movies that students and staff could purchase raffle tickets for.

They sold the tickets at the wrestling match that gave our younger students the chance to show off what they had learned over the past month or so of practice.  There was some great matches as the boys went at each other with great enthusiasm.

While that was exciting, the Summerlee Home girls were happy they had the chance to show their support, love and encouragement for their houseparent.


‘Flat Francis’ was a guest of Summerlee Home recently and enjoyed having the chance to share a meal or two and take part in the video game JUST DANCE.  In the one picture, it looks like his hand raised in blessing is right in line with the reaching for the sky move the girls next to him are doing.

Over Christmas, our Religious Education teacher Joe has been fixing him up a bit due to some nicks and bruises he has picked up in the process of being passed from home to home.  He’ll be in great shape once the students return and is anxious to see what his next adventure will be!

On behalf of all the students and staff here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, I would like to wish each of you a very Happy New Year filled with good health, much happiness, peace and joy now and throughout 2017.

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


What if?

Mike, St. Joseph's President
Mike, St. Joseph’s President

It was one of those moments that you are fortunate to experience… like so many others over the past 30 years. I am frequently reminded that the mission at the heart of our work at St. Joseph’s Indian School is truly a blessing for all who are open to it!

It started with our yearly Christmas Store, held on December 12 this year.  Like many other caring staff, I volunteered to assist as our students select Christmas gifts for their family members.  The Christmas Store comes about because of the generosity of so many.  Students are able to select gifts for their siblings and family members.  It is an opportunity to give someone a present that they might not otherwise have.

Throughout the day, some staff help students pick out gifts. Others, like me, volunteer to help wrap presents. There’s music playing and Santa Claus is here. St. Joseph’s high school students even assist the younger students.  It is a lot of fun!

After assisting a couple of students in wrapping their presents, there was a short break between groups… And there it sat on a table full of wrapping paper.

It was a letter to Santa Claus.

I was not sure where it came from, but it had all the magic that a letter to Santa should have. It had a few misspellings and imperfect penmanship, just as a child’s letter should.  But it was magic nonetheless. It asked for gifts for her siblings, and she had drawn a few pictures.

But mostly, I was struck by the spirit of the letter! Simply stated, this child was given the opportunity to ‘Believe’ in the magic of Christmas.

With this being the Christmas Season, I find there are a number of Christmas movies that give one perspective. In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Baily sees a world without himself in it!  This led me to the question, what would the world be like without St. Joseph’s Indian School? What if we did not have so many generous supporters? What kind of Christmas would our students and their families have?

How would their lives be impacted? 

Student letter to Santa.

Thirty years ago, my wife and I were fortunate to come to St. Joseph’s Indian School. Back then, the plan was to take a year and see if we could make a difference.  And what we have 30 years later is a lifetime full of memories and many instances where the Mission impacted us far more than we impacted the Mission.  So what George Baily realized, I too realized.  How truly lucky I am to be part of this wonderful Mission that is St. Joseph’s Indian School. 

That student letter was a simple reminder of the magic that is in the hearts of our students, their families, the staff and our supporters. It is you, our supporters, and your generosity that allows the Spirit of the Mission to thrive each and every day on our campus.  And it is during this important Christmas Season that your generosity is most apparent in the eyes of the children we serve!


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The Spirit is alive!  God Bless!

Mike, St. Joseph’s President

Guest Blogger: Julie H.

Greetings friends of St. Joseph’s Indian School!  I hope the Feast of All Souls Day finds  you doing well!

Things here on St. Joseph’s campus are going well!  It is hard to believe we have finished our first quarter of school and are already a couple of weeks into the second quarter.  My, how times flies!  The students are working hard to keep their grades up and do well in school.

Happy Halloween from everyone at St. Joseph's Indian School!
Happy Halloween from everyone at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Halloween was a great hit.  Most of the kids dressed up in costumes and there were some great costumes!  The students were able to trick-or-treat here on campus and then take part in a costume contest.  Some of the homes also went into Chamberlain to trick-or-treat as well.  All of the students I have talked to say they really enjoyed Halloween!

With Halloween past us now, the next big events on the campus of St. Joseph’s Indian School are girls basketball, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We haven’t seen much snow here yet, so I wonder if we will have a white Christmas this year!

Our girls’ basketball seasons kicks off on Monday, November 5.  The girls are very excited to begin their season.  The girls are working hard in practice and learning all they can in the short time they have before their games begin.  Basketball season is always a busy time as all of the games take place between early November and Christmas Break.  With as fast as this school year is going, both Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here before we know it!

As we move closer to Thanksgiving, I would like to thank each and every one of you for all of the support you give to St. Joseph’s Indian School.  Please know that you are remembered in our prayers!

Julie H.
Family Service Counselor

Making these kids feel special

The Fisher Home after opening their presents … notice the smiles.
The Fisher Home after opening their presents … notice the smiles.

Christmas time is always a blast if you are a houseparent at St. Joseph’s Indian School. You get to be there as the students open their presents and see the joy on their faces.  While some students don’t get exactly what they want, most get what they want and more.

These boys are the current eighth grade boys in the Fisher Home. They got basketballs which was a big hit because each one of these boys is convinced they are the next, Lebron James … which in relation to my basketball skills, they might be!

The day in the Fisher Home started off with church, which was hard for the students to sit through. The fact that they were opening presents immediately following church did not escape their minds.

After the boys opened their presents they played bingo which was a big hit for the young gentlemen. They had a chance to win hacky-sacks, quarters, soda and basketball cards. For the evening activity, the boys went swimming and got to have various treats the houseparents brought from their own homes.

The day was an awesome opportunity for me to remember why Christmas is special. It was a chance for us to show the important people in our life feel special.

Thanks to all the donors who helped us make these kids feel special.

Enjoying beautiful weather in South Dakota

We began the new semester with Tuesday morning gathering in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel for a prayer service. There we also announced the students who received the Leo John Dehon Service Awards for the past quarter. The students were nominated by teachers and houseparents for their attitude, help and cooperation in the school and homes. In addition to academics, we want to encourage our kids to be good and kind people as well.

While last week was calm and quiet with long blocks of time to work away on projects, the first few days of the new semester felt frantic. As all the Child Services people got back to their computers after a couple of weeks off, the electronic communications that I thought I’d cleared up, started coming in at a pace faster than I could answer.

I’ve also been participating in a series of meetings with many different departments to listen to their questions and feedback as we prepare to launch our 2015 Strategic Plan. We hope to finalize it by the end of the month, but even by raising the questions and setting goals we have already begun laying the groundwork in the many areas we want to improve.

The bar joists for the Akta Lakota Museum expansion have arrived,  within the next week we’ll start to see the roof go up and the completion of the exterior frame. January in South Dakota is usually bundle up weather, but today we set a record high for this date with a balmy 66 degrees. A year ago we were in the midst of a long cold winter where such work wouldn’t have even been attempted.

Most of our Native American students have returned, but a few are still out. A few had transportation problems. One family is still out because of a funeral. One child has the flu and wouldn’t have been able to go to class even if he made it here. The high school program opened up all four of its homes and campus is starting to get back to its normal rhythms.

The kids loved unusually nice January weather!
The kids loved unusually nice January weather!

With the spring like weather, the students were out in full-force after school playing tetherball, football, tag, basketball and jumping rope.  First grader Treshawn repeatedly bemoaned the fact that we put the bicycles into storage for the winter since it was perfect riding weather. I joined in at the basketball hoop in front of the Benedict Homes and played with the 1st-4th graders. They’re used a lot of one-on-one moves, but I taught a few of them the basics of the give and go. A few of them got the hang of cutting to the basket and receiving a pass – wide open for the layup. Next we’ll have to teach the rest the concept of defending!

When supper time came I joined the Ambrose (1st – 3rd grade boys) Home for a hearty stew.

The conversation got around to Christmas break, and while many of the boys shared about their favorite toys they received, one of our second graders told me that he didn’t get anything for Christmas.

Those are the children that I know our upcoming Christmas celebration with presents will mean the most to. I know his family must have really appreciated the gifts he was able to bring home to share from our Christmas store.

God’s love during the Christmas season

I hope that all of you had a Merry Christmas and through the love of family and friends, felt the love of God as well.

After three days with no one other than Fr. Bernie and I around, campus is gradually coming back to life. Two break homes opened on Monday. About 15 high school students who are in sports are back, along with a few younger students who have a need to be here. Yesterday Laura, one of our custodians, made her usual 7:30 a.m. stop at the high school home to empty trash and accidentally set off the alarms! During the school year, students are already up and on their way to school by then. With the holiday schedule, they were all still sleeping, and when she opened the doors the horns and whistles started blaring. Our students got out of bed much quicker than normal – maybe something the houseparents can keep in mind for the future!

The week before and after Christmas brings different rhythms to St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus. Some days are frenzied, others so very quiet. Last week, our grade school youth were home for break, but our high school students stayed through Thursday. Stress levels were high as the students took exams and finished the final semester projects and papers. I could see the visible signs of relief on their faces as families came to campus to pick them up for vacation.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

My holiday temptation toward over-eating had several worthy opportunities. Our facilities department had their annual holiday luncheon on Tuesday. They can be proud of the quality and quantity of projects they can say they accomplished as they look back over the past year.

The development office had their Christmas pot-luck on Thursday. The fall pot-luck features a lot more fresh vegetables from the garden, while this spread was filled with dishes that you need to eat in moderation, but I don’t always have the will power not to fill your plate.

While the campus is quieter without children around for a few days, many of our staff are still hard at work. We have thank-you’s to send to the many generous donors we heard from during Christmas. With the homes empty for a few days, it’s a good chance for the fix up projects that are too noisy or messy to otherwise do.

On the partial list for facilities this week:

  • Painting several rooms in the school
  • Removal of old storage tank in boiler room
  • Tile and freezer floor work in the Dining Hall
  • Changing many – many – many air filters around campus
  • Spray for Bed Bugs

Also on the list is snow removal – but we haven’t had much of the white stuff yet. The mild weather has allowed us to focus on other projects, especially the Stevens & Matthias Home remodeling.

The milder weather has also let the outside construction contractor to make good progress on the Iya Tokeya InajinThey Stood Here in the Beginning – Alumni building. This week and last they have put up support columns and attached the aluminum studs. The frame of a building  going up is one of the most noticeable and dramatic parts of any project.

Last week, three members of our committee took a drive to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to make some decisions about concrete castings to be used for the exterior. A four-hour round trip for a half hour meeting seems like a lot, but in South Dakota we get used to the mileage. What we don’t have too often is traffic. My brother, who lives in Chicago, can get stuck in traffic that long going but a fraction of the distance. With the good company of Tom (facilities) and Dixie (museum director) our conversation made the miles fly quickly by.

On Christmas Eve, I traveled north to the parish in Stephan, on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. When we don’t have campus masses, I enjoy returning to the area parishes I used to serve. Christmas is a wonderful time in small towns to see the extended clans and I caught up with many people who have moved away, but came home for the holidays.

Because of a larger than expected crowd, we completely ran out of hosts and I had to break the last few I had into tiny fragments. But I suppose even a little bit of Christ can do a lot for people who believe.

I hope Christmas services strengthened people’s faith and experience of God’s love.

On Christmas Day, I did the cooking and invited all our area SCJ parish priests to relax at our community house after a long weekend of Masses.

This week, I have very few meetings. The end of the year gives me a chance to clear the desk and dispatch with the 15 and 20 minute projects I pushed aside in the pre-holiday rush and also have time for some of the long-range planning that we’re in the midst of.



Focusing on faith

Greetings everyone, Richard here! May I wish you all a blessed Christmas time and my prayers for all to have a healthy and joyous new year. Now that the frenzy of shopping hopefully is over … except for the returns … let us take a moment to reflect of the meaning of this season and what the message of the Gospels is all about. Christ came in peace and lived in peace, yet His simple message has eluded humanity since His birth.

On December 11, in the Chapel of our Lady of the Sioux, we had the First Rite of the RCIC program. It is the Rite of Welcoming. We had twenty-five Lakota (Sioux) students partake in this ceremony conducted by Fr. Steve. This is the Rite where students ask to join the community in learning about becoming Catholic. The students ask for acceptance and the community pledges to support their endeavors. The community also prays that I be guided in teaching the students about faith issues. As part of the Rite. Fr. Steve blessed their senses and their hands and feet so they may walk in the path of Jesus. Each student at the conclusion received a Bible for them to read, as we journey on path to receiving First Holy Communion.

Before break, Fr. Anthony conducted class Masses for the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.  Each class had their own Mass in the morning before the start of the day. The students reflected on the experience and all said it was the best Mass they ever attended. They liked the shared intimacy and members of each class helped serve and did the readings of the day. It was a good experience for the students.

Before break, we also had confessions for the students. Many students who are not Catholic also attended and had the chance to speak and pray with the priest in the confessional; it gives the student an opportunity to focus on their spiritual development.

Until next year!

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Fr. Anthony had a morning all school mass for students and staff. Fr. Guy is away for a few days, so I covered the evening mass in the parish. I expected a very small crowd, since it was at the same time as the Chamberlain school Christmas program. But with our St. Joseph’s high school homes all making the trek downtown, we did have a good group and good spirit.

Our Akta Lakota Museum had their pre-Christmas open house for staff today, with discounts on Christmas gifts. As a way of thanking our school for the business we do in Chamberlain, several businesses donated very nice door prizes. Our kitchen staff put together some tasty treats, both healthy and otherwise. This time of year, I have a particular weakness for the holiday shaped sugar cookies.  While that was going on inside, outside the construction crews were pouring cement and preparing all the inside footings for the museum expansion. We’ve been blessed with some mild December temperatures so far, and the work has been able to proceed at a good pace.

Kermit, one of our child care workers from our sister organization, the Sacred Heart Center (Cheyenne River Indian Outreach) in Eagle Butte, was on campus today for continuing education for our staff. They covered Lakota (Sioux) star knowledge and world view.

Fr. Gary is a retired SCJ who lives here in Chamberlain, South Dakota. We invited him over for lunch and to celebrate his birthday.

Tonight was our final girls basketball game of the season. After Christmas, the girls will switch to inter-city and the boys will begin playing other schools.

Lakota (Sioux) youth basketball

Our mail room is a busy place as lots of holiday mail starts streaming in. I am so grateful that people think of us as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach. I realize this is a tough time for many people out there, which makes the generous sacrifices all the more meaningful.

I finished off a day of meetings by relaxing with girls basketball at the gym after school. Our 6th grade girls came alive in the 4th quarter, scoring 10 of their 16 points then, and coming from behind to defeat Pierre Indian Learning Center. I took in the action on the court part of the time, but sitting in the bleachers surrounded by 1st and 2nd graders, I had a whole group crowded around wanting to talk and tell me things. Tayron in particular had question upon question that reminded me of my baby brother Dan.

Every answer I gave, was always followed up with another, “How come?”