Practicing for Saturday’s big event

Two Native American girls showing off their regalia.
Juliana and Sasha are ready for this weekend’s powwow!

Usually school at St. Joseph’s Indian School doesn’t dismiss until 3:25, but shortly after 3 today a lot of students were streaming to the homes. I stopped a group and found out that they are the powwow dancers, on their way to practice for Saturday’s big event. Their houseparents will still ensure that they have ample time to do homework around the kitchen table later on.

Fr. Tom, our SCJ provincial, is on campus this week for his annual visit to check on all the members of our religious order stationed here in South Dakota. Besides the work of the school, we serve eight parishes in the area. He wants to check on our health (I’m feeling good and cancer is in remission for over 2 years now!) and how we are doing with the work entrusted to us. I sat with him yesterday morning and reflected on all that’s happened in my eight years as director of St. Joseph’s Indian School, and looked ahead to what still needs to be accomplished in the future. I appreciate the chance to reflect on the blessings and challenges of trying to meet new needs while staying true to the mission and vision. Fr. Tom headed St. Joseph’s in the 70’s and 80’s and still has a passionate commitment to seeing the school make a lasting difference.

At the school, one of the 3rd grade boys was in trouble at the dean’s office, and was sitting in the corner on the floor pouting. He looked so unhappy that I just sat down on the floor and started making small talk. The one thing he was looking forward to was a flag football game. We talked sports for a while and his mood lifted considerably. After a while, I had to move along, and simply said,

“I’m sorry you had such a hard day today. I hope it’s better tomorrow.”

Some of our students have issues that none of us fully understand. Those are the ones you hope to reach, but are never sure how.

The students who volunteered for church choir were in the religious education room practicing new mass parts. It will take some time for everyone to catch on, including me as I preside, but it will eventually add a nice touch to our liturgical celebrations.