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Father Hatcher’s Farewell

After fourteen years, I will stand relieved as president of St. Francis Mission, effective July 31, 2017. Fr. Jim Kubicki, S.J., a friend and colleague with whom I worked for six years at the Sioux Spiritual Center, will become president. I am very grateful to all of you who have supported the ministry of St. Francis Mission during my time as president. Our donors from the stewardship mailings bring in over half of our $2.3 million annual budget. The rest is raised by grants, bequests, and major gifts, which have been my responsibility. Since we receive no direct government assistance this has been a challenging task and often not as successful as I would have liked.

Change in leadership generates anxiety in any organization and among its financial supporters. When I came to St.Francis Mission it was in a state of collapse—elderly priests and few programs. Mostly it was a burial society hanging on until someone in authority would decide to close it. Today it is a vibrant Mission led by Lakota people who have been invited by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe to be partners in alcohol recovery, the juvenile and adult jails, the suicide prevention effort, the homeless shelter, training the Community Health Representatives to work with suicide crisis situations, and the public schools to provide religious education to young people on the reservation. Moreover, there has been a robust improvement in the life of the Church due to creative sacramental preparation programs, religious education, and a small school that provides a solid education and teaches children that there is a God who cares about them.

The key to the success of these programs is that they are led by creative Lakota people. Without Rodney Bordeaux, John Swift, Don Gasdia, Geraldine Provencial, Marie Kills in Sight, Mary Lee Fast Horse, Jennifer Black Bear, Deacon Ben Black Bear, Jr, Ben Black Bear, III, Jim Stands, Caroline DeCory, and Stacee Valandra and their staffs, our relationship with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe would have remained dismal, and none of these successful programs would be in place. Because of this leadership, St. Francis Mission at this moment is positioned to make great strides forward. Despite the upcoming transition, the work of the Mission can only grow stronger when Fr. Jim Kubicki, S.J., becomes president.

When I ask you to continue to support the Mission I am asking you to support this team of creative people who care as much about the Church as I do and who passionately care about bringing a brighter future to their people. Because of your past generosity, this is your legacy as much as mine. It is a Triumph of Hope. Two things are needed going forward: prayer and financial support. I ask you to continue to support the legacy of the New Mission you helped build. I am including with this letter an interview I recently granted because I think you’ll be interested to see the big picture and the progress of the work of the Mission over time. Read the full interview here.

In the Risen Lord,

Fr. Hatcher, S.J.

P.S. I also invite you to attend our Benefactors’ Meet & Greet September 21 – 24, 2017. You will spend that weekend with me, the new president of the Mission, Fr. Jim Kubicki, S.J., our Lakota program leaders, and other wonderful benefactors from around the United States. This is an opportunity to explore the Rosebud Reservation, immerse yourself in Catholic Lakota Culture, and see first-hand the many programs at St. Francis Mission. The Mission will provide room and board and, if needed, transportation from and to the Rapid City airport. Please RSVP by September 2, 2017, to Cindy at 605.718.7912 or stewardship@sfmission.org.

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