Donor appreciation luncheons in Denver, CO

All of us with the beautiful icon honoring Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.
The icon honoring Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was beautiful.

Two of our seventh grade students, Kaitlyn and Danielle, traveled to speak at donor appreciation luncheons in Denver, Colorado. We got in early on Friday, and decided to see the Denver Museum of Science and Nature. It’s the kind of place that tricks you into learning by making everything so interesting and fun.

We explored Egyptian mummies, amazing gems and minerals from the Rocky mountains and learned about a variety of Native American cultures. The girls’ favorite was called “Prehistoric Journey.” As we walked past dinosaur skeletons, they were in awe at the size and ancient nature of the beasts.

One of our school nurses, Ronda, chaperoned, and led us through a display like a health fair. After taking part in a variety of activities to measure heart rate, evaluate our walking style for calories burned, see our cells under a microscope, we got a personalized computer print out to take home as a souvenir. The planetarium show gave us a perspective on the massive size of our solar system. My favorite was the 3D movie about life under the sea. I even ducked one time when it looked like a jelly fish was floating past my head!

Our luncheons went well. Danielle and Kaitlyn were a bit nervous speaking at first, but with such a friendly crowd loaded with questions and interest in St. Joseph’s and our Lakota students, they were able to share lots of information and experiences.

We received wonderful hospitality! Donors Bob and Carylyn graciously treated us to supper at a nice Italian restaurant the first night. On Saturday, Alex, Chasson and Lauren invited us for a home cooked meal. We were even treated to a few pre-dinner flamenco style songs on  guitar. The students and I make a game of rating all the new foods they tried, and the girls set a new “record” with 27 new taste treats over the 4 days.

Since the nearest mall to Chamberlain is 135 miles away, what is a routine for most teens is  a special treat for our students, and we had to let the girls wander around the stores for a while.

Sunday night we went to Denver’s Cathedral Basilica for a special mass to honor Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, who was canonized earlier in the day. Kateri was a Mohawk and Algonquin woman and serves as a special inspiration for holiness for Native American Christians. Members of the local Kateri  community wore regalia from their tribes. Bishop James Conley, who led the celebration, has Wea ancestry and blessed the altar by using an eagle feather to smudge the smoke with sage.  The cathedral also dedicated a beautiful icon of Kateri that will help pass on her legacy to future generations.