A bit of everything

Greetings once again from St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota.  As Fr. Steve Huffstetter, SCJ is on his way back from a donor luncheon in the Miami, Florida area, I have been asked to bring you up-to-date on what happened here at St. Joseph’s over the weekend.

It was a weekend that had a bit of everything happen.  Friday afternoon had one of our 4th grades present a ‘living’ Way of the Cross entitled The Week That Changed the World to our students and staff.  Friday also saw the end of the bowling season as all the participants had a fun afternoon in which trophies were awarded and snacks provided.  A lot of fun was had this year and several of the students improved remarkably over the course of the season.

While we were at the bowling lane, word was received that the Chamberlain water supply was experiencing some difficulty and that the water should not be drunk.  The whole town and campus were affected.  As those working on the problem were not sure how long it would last, there was a run on bottled water.  Luckily the disruption was fixed overnight and we could drink and use the water in cooking.

The end of the month also brought an end to our Home Prayers for March and the theme of St. Joseph.  We had the homes pray the Litany of St. Joseph and talked with the students about who St. Joseph was and why he plays an important role in salvation history as the husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus.

Saturday saw the Spring session of FAST (Families And Schools Together) hold its graduation.  We had five families complete the program which encourages interaction among the students, their families and St. Joseph’s staff.  It was wonderful to see several homes attend the graduation as a sign of support and encouragement for their students who took part in the program.  A nice reception took place afterwards.

Should the popular movie, The Hunger Games, have a sequel, several of our students are ready to try out.  Due to the beautiful weather we have been having, those who have been practicing their archery skills were able to shoot outside on the football field.  They seemed to really be into the experience as they were out there for several hours.

Several of the younger grades are taking part in a gymnastics camp offered in the Chamberlain community.  It seems a very popular event; one of our students even participated on the Chamberlain High School Gymnastics Team as a 7th grader.  We hope that taking part in such a camp helps the students get the basics and establish some friendships with Chamberlain students. When they meet up again in high school, we hope good team work values may be established and will bear fruit as Chamberlain’s gymnastics team competes locally and on a state wide basis.

You know Spring has come when you see your first riding lawn mower!  I am not sure if it was out to be used or was being moved to be prepared for the upcoming grass cutting season, but it was moving about the campus.  I hope that is a positive sign that no more ‘wintery’ weather will hit the campus until next Fall and Winter.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday and we began our liturgy by gathering outside in front of the Benedict Homes for the blessing of the palms and then the procession into Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel.

I hope that each of you will have a meaningful and grace-filled Holy Week.  As we continue our journey to Easter and witness what takes place on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, may we be grateful for the love and mercy the Great Spirit shows His people through the witness Jesus gives as He willingly pays the price for our sins.  May we always be grateful and echo the statement of the Roman officer heard in yesterday’s reading of the Passion,

‘Truly this man was the Son of God.’

May we live out that gratitude by following Jesus’ example of love and service to all those we encounter in our journey through life.

During our Sunday liturgy we make various announcements.  Our high school program asked us to share some wonderful news.  Erin, one of our high school seniors, has just been awarded the opportunity of a lifetime.  She is one of only six South Dakota students to receive a Davis-Bahcall Scholarship.  This will enable her to spend a month studying particle physics at some great laboratories world-wide.  She’ll spend a week at Sanford Labs in Lead, South Dakota, which used to be an active gold mine, and then two weeks at the Fermilabs just outside Chicago, Illinois, where the Manhattan Project was begun.  She ends the program with a visit to northern Italy where CERN’s Gran Sasso lab, which houses the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest, is housed.  The Chamberlain High School principal stated he ranked this as one of the two highest honors a student could receive in the science field.  We congratulate Erin on this honor.  It was also mentioned that Erin and D’Kera have both been accepted at South Dakota State University following graduation.

Have a Happy Easter and know we continue to keep all of you in our prayers in gratitude for your generosity.

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


The simple things in life

Today at church we had our final Rite of Christian Initiation ceremony for the students preparing for baptism, which we will celebrate April 15. Participants and their families are making preparations and getting excited.

Nice weather over the weekend means that we’re getting started with activities often pushed off until April and May. Once our American Indian students came back from spring break, all the bikes came out of winter hibernation, and the campus was full of pedal pushers. Some of the homes, like Ambrose (1st-3rd  grade boys) rode off in a supervised bike brigade into town to the local park. The soccer nets are coming out and rubber softball bases are spread over the football field.

Many of our teenage readers were excited that Chamberlain’s movie theater got the movie “The Hunger Games” for opening weekend. I myself read and enjoyed the series, though it is very heavy and thought-provoking. Friday night at the early show I sat next to a large group of our junior high homes, and when we exited the theater, ran into many high school students waiting for the late showing. One fringe benefit of living in a small town is they don’t charge big city movie prices. The movie ticket, soda and box of popcorn ran me a grand total of $7.25, and the movie theater actually gives our students a further discount.

Two couples graced my Saturday. While I was eating lunch, Pink and Edwina from the parish I used to serve in Promise, South Dakota, were in the area to visit their daughter and dropped by to surprise me with a visit. As a brand new priest, they were a widow and widower in their mid 50’s, with grown kids about my age. When they decided to get married, they came to me for preparation, and I felt humbled by their years of marital experience compared to my just-out-of seminary-knowledge about the sacrament. Still, I just facilitated their talking about many issues, and we had a simple but lovely ceremony when all was ready.

The second couple are college seniors, preparing for their marriage this summer. They bring a whole different set of questions, hopes and dreams for their marriage. I don’t do as much of that kind of preparation and ministry as when I was a full-time parish priest, but do enjoy getting to know couples and celebrating with them those special, unforgettable times in their life.

As I walked by the playground and toward the office, some students on the playground waved me down and called me over. The Dennis Home (1st -3rd grade girls) and Raphael Home (1st– 3rd grade boys) were having a picnic at American Creek park that night and invited me to join them. How can you turn down food, fun and an invite from an 8-year-old?

I couldn’t stay for the whole time, but we tossed footballs around, pushed swings, walked on the balancing logs and after a satisfying meal, got out marshmallows and roasted them on sticks. I haven’t done that for some time. Kids remind me of how fun and meaningful the simple things in life can be.