Guest Blogger: Fr. Anthony

Dear Benefactors,

I have the chance to share what’s happening here at St. Joseph’s Indian School since Fr. Steve is away for a donor luncheon in the Denver area.

This past Thursday saw the sign up for the girls’ basketball teams.  Each grade from 4th to 8th have their own team and will play local schools in the area.  They are now practicing in preparation for the opening of the season in early November.

Chamberlain’s High School football team had their last game prior to the state play-offs Thursday evening and it was an adventure as the weather made it difficult to do anything.  The wind was blowing 35 to 40 miles per hour with some wind gusts as high as 60-79 mph.  Though the Cubs came up a bit short, they qualified for play-offs and will journey northwest to play Cheyenne-Eagle Butte on Tuesday.

Friday saw the kick-off of Red Ribbon Week as inflatables were brought into the rec center for the students to have some fun.  Lots of shouts of glee the students climbed up, slid down and bounced on various inflatables.  Each home also provided a delicious snack to be shared.  During this upcoming week the students will celebrate such days as wearing their pjs on Monday with the theme ‘follow your dreams … don’t do drugs!’; on Wednesday they’ll wear their Red Ribbon Week T-shirt which states ‘Be the change you want to see in the World’ and paint their faces blue to stress ‘I will say NO to drugs until I’m blue in the face’; and on Friday they’ll be asked to wear the colors of red, white and blue so as to make the statement ‘I elect to be drug free!’  There will also be a trivia contest held over the school intercom to remind the students of the danger of drugs and give them some insights as to how they can stay strong and say NO.

Saturday brought lovely weather which gave everyone the opportunity to get outside and work off some energy.  It was also the opening of the pheasant hunting season which brings a lot of hunters to the area.  I heard some shots from across the Missouri River on Sunday afternoon.

Just as the NBA is in their pre-season, so those taking part in the inter-city basketball league had a practice game on Sunday.  We have four teams made up of 6th, 7th and 8th grade boys from St. Joseph’s and the Chamberlain area.  In January, when the boys’ basketball season begins the girls’ will then have their inter-city basketball league. The program gives the young people in the area the chance to get to know and interact with each other so when entering high school they will already know each other.

Sunday was also very special since the first Native American Saint, Kateri Tekakwitha, was canonized in Rome, Italy.  The homes were alerted that EWTN was showing the ceremonies live at 2:30 AM Sunday morning with a repeat at 10:00 AM.

Deacon Bud Jetty and Deacon Steve McLaughlin, who help the Priests of the Sacred Heart minister in Chamberlain and on the Lower Brule and Crow Creek Indian Reservations were designated by the Sioux Falls Diocese to represent the diocese at the canonization.  We look forward to their return to hear how everything went.

Hope each of you will have a wonderful week ahead!  May our Loving God continue to bless and reward you for your generosity towards and interest in the Lakota children we serve at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  You are remembered in our prayers.

Fly, crash, dream, get back up and fly again

“Red Rover, Red Rover, send Fr. Steve right over!”

Bursting through the linked arms of a second and third grader wasn’t too difficult for me, but I was gentle about it. The students got a laugh out of it when I joined them in Wisdom Circle for a couple of rounds of the children’s game after school today.

Today began our second quarter – hard to believe we’re already that far along with our school year! Our custom is to start each quarter by gathering in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel for an all-school prayer service. This Sunday Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk/Algonquin woman who lived during the 1600’s is being canonized a saint. Fr. Anthony quizzed the students about her life. Since she serves as a good role model for our Native American students, they’ve heard her story and came up with answers to all of the questions.

The pastoral care team put together a slide show set to a meditation on the scriptural theme of being lifted up on Eagle’s Wings and allowing our spirits to soar. Interspersed with inspiring pictures of eagles majestically in flight were pictures of our students going about their everyday routine of living and learning here on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus. As students recognized themselves we heard giggles, but also great focus, attention and pride. Afterwards we announced the Fr. Leo John Dehon SCJ Circle of Courage awards for the quarter, given to students who are good role models to others, and show generosity and kindness in school and in the homes. Hopefully the message that they can fly and God will raise them up was internalized.

Along that theme, I had an email from a donor – a veteran – who had been through many ordeals. His message to me was to help our students overcome the obstacles in their lives.

“Teach your students to fly, crash, dream, get back up and fly again.”

It was a gorgeous 80 degree day. Matthias Home (6th– 8th grade girls) invited me to supper. They fired up the grill and ate their  evening meal on picnic tables outside the home. We accept students throughout the school year as openings occur, and I got to welcome Brianna, our newest eighth grader. Her housemates were doing their best to make her feel welcome and help her fit in.

Pilgrimage to Rome

In Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel, we have a prominent stained glass window of Kateri Tekakwitha from the Mohawk and Algonquin tribes who lived near Auriesville, New York. On October 21, Blessed Kateri will become the first member of a North American tribe to be canonized and made an official saint in the Catholic Church. Bishop Paul Swain of Sioux Falls gave this exciting news to two Native American Deacons with St. Joseph’s connections. Deacon Bud Jetty (Spirit Lake tribe) is a member of our Board of Directors. Deacon Steve McLaughlin (Standing Rock Sioux) works with the SCJs on the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Indian Reservations ministering to the pastoral needs of the people there. Bishop Swain told the two excited men the diocese would sponsor them on a pilgrimage to Rome being organized by the Rapid City Diocese and the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions so they can participate in this landmark ceremony.

I also heard that Fr. Tom Westhoven, SCJ, plans to be there as well. For many years, Fr. Tom was St. Joseph’s Director of Development. Now retired, but still very active, he has been asked to chaperone a pilgrimage for the same exciting event being organized on the East Coast. His group will leave October 19. For anyone who might be interested, information on that trip is available by emailing