Inspiration at the end of the week

Yesterday, I was off campus to attend a diocesan sponsored workshop on preaching. Most surveys on religion highlight the need for improved quality of preaching across denominational lines. I was inspired by hearing how others approach their homilies. One priest starts every preparation period with the prayer, “O God help me to love these people and give them the very best I can.”

In addition to prayer, a good preacher must also know the needs of their congregation, and what issues and concerns are closest to their hearts. The day reinforced the urgency and importance of sharing the good news of the gospel. While most of my homilies are geared toward the Lakota (Sioux) children at St. Joseph’s Indian School, that may even take on greater importance because they soak in all that we say (and especially all we do).

St. Joseph the Carpenter was skilled with tools of his trade. In preparation for the feast of St. Joseph the Worker (May 1), our religious education classes have embarked on a service project. They are building a tool shed. When it’s finished, they will donate it to the local crisis center in Chamberlain, which provides shelter for families suffering from domestic violence.

It’s interesting to watch how some kids dive right in and really enjoy such a hands on project, knowing that it will be doing a lot of good for others.

The Lakota children are helping build a shed in service to the community.
Anthony and Daryl stand in the framework of the soon-to-be shed for the local crisis center.

About 30 students of all ages recently gathered in our skating room. The occasion? The annual rib feed hosted by one of our long time houseparents, Steve! Each year around his birthday, Steve invites all the Native American students on campus for whom he has been a houseparent.

The menu is always the same – his mouthwatering BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, baked potato and topped off with his Butterfinger cake. It’s a delightful reunion and students share memories of their homes in their days with Steve. Often, houseparents will work with sibling groups over the years, and I noticed family members who are now spread out in different homes because of their ages sitting next to one another and enjoying some of the comforts of real family bonding.

Fr. Steve’s updates

Today is The Feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary. With the students on spring break at this time, we’ll have a prayer service to celebrate his other feast day, St. Joseph the Worker.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Today is The Feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary. With the students on spring break at this time, we’ll have a prayer service to celebrate his other feast day – St. Joseph the Worker – on May 1. By then, I hope to be done with radiation and back at school before I get ready for my surgery.

St. Joseph our Protector, Pray for us.

I went to the local parish for Mass, and of course prayed for all the staff and students back at St. Joseph’s.

I’ve spent most of my time in small rural parishes, but it’s nice to be in a bigger city where there is more activity. A good number of people gathered ahead of time to pray the rosary. When the noon bells went off and folks rose to pray the Angelus, it reminded me of doing the same when the noon whistle rang in the small Indiana town I grew up in.

Tonight, the parish had a fish bake; besides tasty food and hospitable table companions, a group of local dulcimer players came in to serenade us with some lovely tunes. When you’re sick, little touches of beauty and art are helpful and enriching.

St. Joseph our Protector, Pray for us.