Building a culture of success

All St. Joseph’s staff returned to campus today to begin a week of orientation. Homes and classroom are being prepared in anticipation of our students arrival on August 12. Some folks we’ve not seen since graduation in May, while many others have worked day in and day out over the summer. There were lots of hugs and catching up.

Energy filled the Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel as people streamed in for the opening prayer service. Our theme this year is Creating a Culture of Success: Mind, Body, Heart and Spirit. After a spirit-filled time of prayer, one of the houseparents said to me,

“This was great, now while we’re all rested and excited to be back – but could we do this again in the middle of February when we’re frazzled and weary?!”

We gathered in the dining hall for a review of the strategic plan, and the required Human Resources announcements and reminders. “Play nice” is our standard speech about avoiding any hints of workplace harassment and cooperating with others. When we entered the dining hall, HR had loud, peppy music blaring, and before we started they led us in a few exercise/dance moves that woke people up and got their blood pumping. It helped create more of a fun, engaging atmosphere, which people appreciated. It also made us more attentive to the information that followed. Taking short breaks for fun and exercise are not a waste of time at all, but contribute to building a culture of success.

Our two SCJ novices-to-be, James and Juan,  arrived on campus last night. They will be making their retreat here this week. While the staff is lively, and lots of work and activity is going on around campus, there are still plenty of quiet spaces to be reflective. I had individual meetings with each young man, and in the evening they gathered with Fr. Anthony, Fr. Bernie and I. We shared our vocation stories, about how we came to understand God’s call to religious life, and what has brought us here to this place and time. Even though I’ve known Fr. Bernie and Fr. Anthony since I was in the minor seminary at the age of 14, I still learned many new insights from what they shared. I also appreciated what our newest members had to share from their faith experience.

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.