The Gold Coin Father at St. Joseph’s Indian School

Fr. Anthony would never boast or brag about himself, because that just isn’t him.

LaRayne is St. Joseph's Native American Studies teacher.
LaRayne, St. Joseph’s Native American Studies teacher

However, I can and I will.

Fr. Anthony (a.k.a. The Gold Coin Father) has a very special way to share his passion with our parish circle at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Not only does Fr. Anthony make it a point to add Lakota language and other fine details to his work, but he has also found a unique way to reach St. Joseph’s students.

Mass is very much like a class. We open with prayer and a song or two for “grabbers.” A reading, reflection and biblical references are given. Once that is complete, the students will wiggle in their seats, sit up tall and be prepared for the reading given by Father Anthony.

Fr. Anthony rewards the Lakota children for questions answered correctly during Mass.
If you answer Fr. Anthony’s question correctly, something shiny may be coming your way.

Almost every child who is a veteran to a Fr. Anthony mass knows to listen closely; if you are lucky and your prayers are answered, something shiny may be coming your way. The kids know that during the homily, Fr. Anthony will toss a gold coin your way if you politely raise your hand and answer his questions correctly.

Students know questions are coming when they see him reach under his vestment into the gold coin pocket. Students ready themselves to give answers which, they hope, are attached to a golden coin.   The expressions on the faces of our Lakota, Dakota and Nakota children are fun to watch as they wait for Fr. Anthony to point in their direction, hopeful and excited.

When they are correct, they are wide-eyed as a gold coin is tossed their way and their knowledge is affirmed. After it is caught, the child usually rubs it, looks at it, peers at the rest of the congregation, smiles and rubs again before placing it in the safe pocket of a pressed pair of trousers or kept in the warm grip of a sweaty little hand.

One never knows when Father’s hand will stop diving into the pocket, but you can tell when the homily is finished. There are some slumped shoulders and anxious hearts hoping that the next week will be their chance to catch an answered prayer tossed by the Gold Coin Father.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

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