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!”

Fr. Steve is back

I’m back on campus after two weeks on the road!

I started with a visit to my oncologist at the Mayo Clinic. All the test results looked good, and they told me to keep doing whatever I’ve been doing for the next six months. I was in Rochester on my birthday, and that news was the best birthday present I could have hoped for.

Next I traveled to Oklahoma City for our donor appreciation luncheons. Laura wrote a great summary of that trip in an earlier blog post. I would add that the “celebrity” I was most excited to meet was Savanna, who is a St. Joseph’s alumnae. Savanna just finished up her degree in nursing at Murray State in Oklahoma and joined us at the luncheon. When our students can meet someone who was once in their shoes, and see them succeeding in school, that provides far more inspiration and hope than my words of encouragement can.

I spent a week at home where I had the joy of presiding at my niece’s wedding. Congratulations Allison and Steve and many happy years together! My family is spread far and wide throughout the U.S., and we enjoyed the chance to catch up. I was especially delighted in meeting the three new great nieces that were born since I was home last.

Back on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus I spent the first day walking around and checking out all that is happening. People often assume the campus is much quieter over the summer, but in June it is actually busier, if that is possible. The dining hall serves more lunches now than in the school year, since we have the Rising Eagle Summer Day Camp going on, the PAWS program from town joining us at meal times, and all our students who are working or taking part in  summer school.

Maintenance is crazy busy! The projects I saw in full swing include:

  • Repaving the Akta Lakota Museum parking lot
  • Brickwork on Akta Lakota Museum addition
  • Roofing the boiler-room
  • Recarpeting the school (after 20 years of heavy wear and tear)
  • Demolition of William and Summerlee Home interiors in preparation for remodeling
  • Building shelving to house museum artifacts
  • Painting Central offices

Several of our high school students are helping on some of the projects. I also saw students working in the kitchen, serving lunch, at the Akta Lakota Museum, running the gift shop cash register, beautifying the grounds and in the print shop boxing up notepads we’ll send our donors. The biggest number are camp counselors, helping younger children in recreational and arts and crafts activities.

Wade graduated here in the class of 1979 and hadn’t been back in over 30 years. I took him on a tour of campus, and he helped me get a better picture of what life was like at St. Joseph’s back in the dorm days, before we added our family home living units. Andy in the Rec Center, and Mary Jane our Alumni Director were staff he remembered well, and visiting them was the definite highlight of his time on campus.

This week at camp …

Native American kids running together!
Look at the excitement on the kids’ face!

This week marked the start of day camp with children from the Lower Brule Sioux Indian Reservation.

Monday – The day began with meeting kids and parents at our pick-up spot, St. Mary’s Church in Lower Brule. Fifty students attended camp today.

After breakfast, we visited about camp expectations with all our campers. Everyone was very well-behaved and ready for a great day!

With two weeks of camp already under their belts, camp staff was ready for anything.

Tuesday was a beautiful sunny day with 58 children attending camp, 27 of which were new.

Janeen had Arts & Crafts going strong today, and Mark had a great game of kickball underway. All in all, camp is going well.

Wednesday turned sunny day after a nice rainfall in the very early morning.

We had 60 children in today’s camp for the water safety course presented by South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks and the Army Corps of Engineers, complete with the small boats for the kids to ride around in. Back on campus, we had Arts & Crafts and brick coloring.

The afternoon brought swimming and snacks.

It was another exciting week at the Rising Eagle Summer Day Camp!!!