Sunday, July 11, 2010
On the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, there are only two priests serving eight parishes. The furthest parish is 90 miles away! Because of this, it’s not possible to have mass at all the churches every Sunday. Sister Anne was scheduled to have a communion service in Cherry Creek today, so I volunteered to ride along and have mass.
Cherry Creek is one of the oldest communities in the area and also one of the poorest and more isolated ones. Many of the families had gone to Dupree for a powwow and the centennial celebration, so we had a very small crowd in church … only eight people!
After driving 45+ miles for a small crowd, I felt tempted to look out at the empty church and ask, “Why am I here?” But, I came to the point where I could usually look at the same small crowd, know the suffering in people’s lives and think, “This is why I’m here – to make a difference in an area where it’s difficult to get any services, let alone religious outreach.”
After church, Sister Anne put on a pot of chili, and we went to the hall and visited with the parishioners. Each day can be a struggle to get by, and I did my best to listen and encourage.