Summer Camp Winding Down, Bookmobile Busy at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain
Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph’s Chaplain

Good day from St. Joseph’s Indian School!


Even though summer officially began on Monday, temperatures are and have been very high around here for a few weeks. I hope everyone is making sure to stay cool and hydrated.


Last week, I was able to attend the ordination for two new priests for the Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana. During the 1st Mass of the newly ordained priest that I had baptized 25 years ago in Houston, Texas, the pastor mentioned that the parish has had 18 priests ordained in the last 11 years and will have another next year.  The parish has also been supportive of those who have entered the Brotherhood or convent.  May we keep the need for more vocations in our prayers.


We hosted our yearly Scranton Prep students from Scranton, Pennsylvania last week. They raise funds every year to bring their upcoming senior class to South Dakota. During their time in-state, they do some sightseeing in the Black Hills and visit several reservations prior to working as counselors for our summer camp. Several of the students mentioned how helping out at St. Joseph’s has really educated them of the Native American Culture. They appreciated the opportunity to bond with the young people at camp.


16002794Today is the last day of the 2016 Rising Eagle Day Camp. We’ve had a great time getting to know over 200 children from the Lower Brule and Crow Creek Reservations and look forward to some of them returning to campus for school this fall!

Continue reading “Summer Camp Winding Down, Bookmobile Busy at St. Joseph’s Indian School!”

Economic struggles

Fifteen of our child services staff, including houseparents, teachers and even Fr. Anthony our chaplain, have been taking part in 40 hours of training in LSCI (Life Space Crisis Intervention). This approach helps you to take a stressful event as when a student is acting out or shutting down, and use it as a chance to get to the core of what is troubling them. It takes both patience and practice to make this work, but we have been encouraged by the results. Having some common training also gives our staff a more consistent common approach to working with our students.

This afternoon I traveled west, where Robert Gruss was ordained as the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City. Last night, a prayer service was held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral, but mass today was held in the Civic Center Arena to allow the participation of more people.  The arena is usually reserved for basketball games, concerts and rodeos, but a wonderful spirit of prayer filled that stands.

A high percentage of the West River Catholics are Lakota, since five Indian R eservations are in the diocese. Lakota deacons and their wives offered a ceremonial smudging to cleanse the arena and prepare our hearts for the ceremony to follow. When the bishop elect lay prostrate in prayer, it was upon a beautiful star quilt given to him by students from Red Cloud Indian School.

The three-hour drive to the Black Hills was interesting because I picked up a radio broadcast from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. US Attorney General Eric Holder was there on the first anniversary of the Indian Law and Order Act. He is especially concerned about trying to reverse the trend of unsolved and unpunished crimes of violence against Native American women. One elder gave testimony about the economic struggles many people face. He spoke of the harsh choices families face – do you take your child to the doctor, buy diapers for the babies or hamburger to feed a household of 14 hungry people?

This evening I stopped in a store to pick up a few things and ran into Erin, who will be one of our seniors next year. She just completed her third 6 week summer course in the High School High Scholar (HS)2 Program in Aspen Colorado. They provide an accelerated learning environment in mathematics and sciences for students traditionally underrepresented in these fields. I was pleased to hear Erin handled the calculus and physics well, and had a good summer. I’ll be glad when she and the others return to St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus in a couple of weeks.


Today’s guest blogger: Robyn

Today's guest blogger: Robyn
Today's guest blogger: Robyn

Good Morning!  My name is Robyn and I am a Family Service Counselor at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  I work with 6th-12th grade girls and have been a counselor here for the past 7 years.  The past few weeks have been quite busy.  I was able to visit some of the students that I work with down in Marty, South Dakota.  Marty is a little Native American Indian Reservation community about two hours south of Chamberlain, not too far from the Missouri River.  It was so good to see the students’ smiling faces.  I really enjoy having the opportunity to visit with families.  Next week I will be traveling to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Rosebud Indian Reservation, both located in South Dakota.  I have also been working on admission files for the upcoming school year.  We have been busy requesting school and medical records and conducting interviews with families.

We continue to get rain and the Missouri River continues to rise.  The flooding remains in the local area and people have been pulling together to help and support each other.  St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus is on the river, but has not flooded.  More than likely, the water will not reach any of our buildings or roadways.  It is quite a sight to see the waters continue to spread.

We appreciate your continued support and are very blessed to have such wonderful people invested in St. Joseph’s Indian School.  I am so fortunate to be part of an organization that is making a difference in the lives of American Indian children and families that we serve.  It is truly a gift to be able to follow your passion and calling from God.  Thank you for continuing to provide me with that opportunity.

Today’s guest blogger: Amanda

Today's guest blogger: Amanda
Today's guest blogger: Amanda

Hello everyone from Amanda. I am a Family Service Counselor here at St. Joseph’s Indian School; my caseload consists of about 20 6th-12th grade girls. This is my second summer here at St. Joseph’s and I must say I love everything about working here. During the school year there is a nice hustle and bustle with students and staff; however, in the summer things are more laid back. During the school year I am often busy seeing students for individual sessions, conducting counseling groups, attending meetings, keeping in touch with staff and visiting homes. During the summer, I along with the other family service counselors,visit our students at home along with interview prospective students for our admissions process.

A few of the students I work with stayed on campus for the summer programs offered; however, they are all now at home. One of the students who will be a senior next year completed and passed driver’s education. She was so excited that she passed and looks forward to cruising around next year. We are starting to look at life after high school. She is excited yet scared to think about leaving St. Joseph’s Indian School and being on her own. Another one of the students I work with returned last week from the Germany Exchange Program. She along with another student and staff were in Germany for about three weeks. She had so many wonderful stories to share along with pictures. She described her trip as a once in a life time opportunity and she was very grateful that she was chosen to represent St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Last week, I traveled to Rapid City, South Dakota to visit two of the students I work with and their families. Summer travel is one of my favorite things to do. It is nice to see the students in their home environment and hear about the different things that they have done or are planning to do. I also made a trip to the Lower Brule Indian Reservation to visit five students and interview four children for admissions. Some of my students asked how much longer break was because they were ready to come back to  St. Joseph’s Indian School. One of the students I work with said,

Being at home for so long was too boring and the temptation to give in to peer pressure was getting hard and hard to turn down.

I spoke with the student about the things she wanted to accomplish in her life along with how she has seen firsthand the consequences of using drugs and alcohol. We brainstormed a plan of action to help her resist giving in peer pressure.

Yesterday, I traveled to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Wanblee to visit one of my students and interview four students for admissions. It was great to sit down and chat with my student and her guardian. We established a game plan together to help her raise her grades and be more motivated. The drive to Pine Ridge is breath taking; it makes you think of all the history the South Dakota Badlands hold.

Today I was supposed to travel to Eagle Butte to visit a family. However, due to the recent rain and high river we canceled our trip for safety reasons. I will be volunteering to help fill sandbags this afternoon to help ensure that businesses and homes in town stay dry.  Thank you for your time and God Bless!