Hopeful, patient waiting

Last night I met with Elijah and Shawn, two of our high school boys who were excited to be chosen to represent St. Joseph at an upcoming donor appreciation luncheon in Sarasota Florida come January. They were also a little worn out, since they are trying out for the Chamberlain Cubs basketball team, and just came home from practice. In fact, this week they’ve had two practices daily, one at 6 a.m. and one right after school.

I caught them in between supper and their Sons of Tradition meeting, where they meet with their Family Service Counselors to learn more about Lakota culture and take part in a talking circle to share issues that face them in their awkward adolescent years. The Daughters of Tradition group took part in an inipi – sweat lodge which I heard was well received.

Once the boys left for their session, I had time for conversation with Tim and Jessica, who started as houseparents in August. It is a big adjustment, and they work in two different homes for three days each. Another huge adjustment is raising a new baby – Lilya is now three months old. I’m around children all the time, but not that often lately with one so young. While the parents ate, I held the baby on my knee, and got along quite well. Every child deserves to be loved and nurtured, and that’s a main goal with all our students. Some need some extra care and attention, especially if they weren’t fortunate to have a stable and nurturing early childhood.

Our Pastoral Care group met today to finalize some details about Advent, which starts on Sunday. It seems odd when it doesn’t begin right after Thanksgiving. With many Christmas decorations already up, we still want to create an atmosphere of hopeful, patient waiting. We also looked ahead to our sacramental preparation. We expect to have about 25 students, a good number of whom are also preparing for baptism and confirmation.

Tonight was the last home game for our fifth and sixth grade girls basketball teams. Our opponents were from the Pierre Indian Learning Center. The fifth grade girls had the fast break going, and the game was never close, with a 31-12 final. Both Justina and Kendra scored in double figures. The sixth grade game was a low scoring defensive struggle. When the PILC Warriors tied the game at 11 with two minutes to go, some of us were thinking it might take an overtime or two before somebody scored again. But Mary got fouled on the drive and made both ends of a one and one free throw chance, and our Braves prevailed.

With girls ages 10 – 12, the improvement you see over a short time is remarkable. Looking back over the first few games, many weren’t sure where to stand or what to do with the ball once they got it. I noticed little things that start to make a difference – how to move without the ball, how to box out for a rebound. Our coaches’ patience and persistence is paying off. I hope our kids learn that lesson in all of life.

Fr. Steve’s updates

I met with my management team as a group for the first time in eight weeks. Instead of a long drawn out meeting, the time together was actually rather short.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I met with my management team as a group for the first time in eight weeks. Instead of a long drawn out meeting, the time together was actually rather short. They’ve kept me, and each other, in the loop, and while I was gone what needed to be taken care of and worked on was attended to well.

Sometimes, when I get stuck in all of the immediate issues needing my attention, I break out of the rut by working on things far into the future.

As I’ve wondered how long my recovery after surgery will be and what I will or won’t be able to do, I haven’t looked too far past May 25. But, good long range planning helps me make good decisions about how to be a good steward of my time today.

So, I took my calendar, which goes until August 2011, and started working backwards on some of the events and projects that are farthest out. It gave me both a new perspective and a burst of creative energy.

The high school boys had an inipi (sweat lodge) ceremony for the last Sons of Tradition session of the year. One of the elders from the nearby Crow Creek reservation came to campus to lead the prayer ceremony.

We always make participation optional, and some students chose instead to help with the fire or the meal. It was the first inipi for two of our students, and I listened as Chris shared how good he felt after going in and praying with others in that traditional way.

I joined the group for the feed afterwards – delicious Indian Tacos with freshly made fry bread.