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Mission News

Sapa Un Academy: September Update!

School started for the Sapa Un Academy in September, and our students, teachers & staff have been busy working on projects and learning!  We’ve collected some highlights from the first month to share!

Dental Health

Marty Jones from the St. Francis Mission Dental Clinic presented information on dental health to the students. We started a brushing program where the students brush after meals here at the school. The dental clinic provided the materials for us!  Here are some pictures of the students learning to brush correctly!

Dental 1 Dental 2

Art & Painting

Our first art unit was watercolors. As we go through the year, students are submitting choice artwork from each unit to be part of an art show and auction later in the year designed to provide an authentic art experience for students. Funds raised will be donated to a charity of the students’ choice to support art education in underprivileged areas.

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Hands on Science!

This project was from our science unit in the first week of school. We are trying to incorporate writing and interactive notebooks with hands on science activities to help with critical thinking skills and to teach students the way real scientists work in the world.  This activity was called, “Save Fred” and students used gummy worms, gummy lifesavers, paper clips and cups…they were to get the lifesaver from under the “boat” (cup) and place it on Fred, the gummy worm without using their hands. They then took notes and discussed their strategies.

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Engaging the Word: 09/28/14

In the version of the our father given in Luke’s Gospel, it seems that Jesus gives a simple and straightforward definition of the Kingdom of God. In giving the prayer Jesus says, “thy Kingdom come,” and then goes on to describe the Kingdom as that circumstance in which God’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven.”  Heaven is that place where God’s will is perfectly known and done. The Kingdom or the Reign of God, is       realized when God’s will is known and done on earth just as it is in heaven.  One of the big differences between heaven and earth is that heaven is eternal, existing outside of time and space, and earth is temporal, a place where things can change for better or for worse.

The reading this Sunday from the profit Ezekiel hints at the good news that Jesus will share in his preaching, the good news that the Kingdom of God is at hand and that it any      moment in time we can stop, take stock of our situation, and step into the Kingdom by coming to know and do God’s will.  Ezekiel points to the fact that in time we have the chance to turn around and head in the right direction. The direction in which we are headed really does matter, does have eternal  consequences.

The Psalm selected for this Sunday is a prayer for guidance, that we may know the good way, and the selection from Paul’s letter to the Philippians encourages us to, like Jesus, follow the good way no matter the cost.

In the selection for Matthew’s Gospel this week, we hear Jesus remind us that good intentions are not enough. Although the invitation to life in the Kingdom comes without a cost, life in the Kingdom is about action, about love.  If one is not actively receiving and sharing the love of God, one has abandoned the free invitation of eternal life with God.

May we receive the grace to genuinely enter into the Kingdom, to come to know God’s will and let it no matter the cost.


1st Reading:  Ezekiel 18: 25-28 ~ Responsorial: Psalm 25: 4-5, 6–9

2nd Reading:  Philippians 2: 1-11~ Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32


St. Francis Mission Clinic Seeing Success

In the latest issue of the South Dakota Dental Association news magazine, there was an article on the St. Francis Mission Dental Clinic. We’ve transcribed it for you here! The article is a great look at what the clinic is doing, the experience of our volunteers and how volunteers can help!

Over the past two years 25 SDDA member dentists, and many of their staff, have provided care to patients of the St. Francis Mission Dental Clinic on the Rosebud Reservation.  Included among them are general dentists and specialists, dental students and retired dentists.  Several members have made repeated trips to the Mission.  Most recently, the SDDA hosted dentists during events in June and September.  Another event is scheduled for January 12-16 2015.  “It’s a unique experience,” said Dr. Ed Lynch, of Rapid City, who was just recently at the clinic.  “You’re working in an undeserved area, treating patients with great needs, yet you’re working in a fully-functioning dental clinic with access to everything you need to provide quality care,” he added.

Dentists and staff who volunteer at the clinic not only have a great environment to work in, they are also guests of the Mission which provides meals and housing.  Dr. Leslie Heinemann, of Flandreau, along with his wife Libby and members of his staff, have been to the Mission twice.  “It’s very nice to have accommodations right on site. We stay at the Mission’s guest house and can walk from there to the clinic each morning. At the end of a long day, it’s nice to have dinner at the Mission and then go back and relax at the guest house,” said Heinemann. “They take good care of us,” he added.

The focus for the Mission Clinic is to improve the oral and general health of Native Americans living on the Rosebud Reservation by having volunteers provide care on the reservation.  Rapid City dentist Dr. Jeff Olson was one of the dentists that established the clinic. Dr. Olson was impressed by the amount of volunteers who were willing to lend a helping hand during recent events at the clinic. “It’s so great working with people that care like we do. All the patients are so grateful to receive care that they hadn’t had the opportunity to receive before and most important, we’re saving teeth,” says Dr. Olson.  “This event addresses the backlog of restorative care needs while educating local residents on the benefits of preventing cavities and other oral health conditions.”

Volunteers are welcomed for any length of time. A typical week-long event at the clinic will include two or more shifts of dentists and staff each typically working two or two-and-half days.  Some dentst are there for only a day, while others stay for the full week.  The dentist is most efficient when they bring their own assistant with them. Hygienists are also needed at the clinic.

At a typical event, dentists will treat many patients that are making their first visit to the dentist and will need significant restorative needs.  Although, after two years of operation, the clinic now has its own base of patients who return regularly for preventative maintenance.

The Mission will host SDDA volunteers every two months.  The next event is scheduled for January 12-16, 2015.  Another event is being planned for March, Dentists, and/or staff, who want to volunteer should contact Paul Knecht or Brenda Goeden at the SDDA office by calling 605-224-9133 or email to or


Looking back on Summer: Body, Mind & Soul camp!

The 2014 Body, Mind, and Soul Program was a huge success! Our Jesuit Volunteers – Mike Prate and Mike O’Neill, Betty, Beth, our cook and Jenny Black Bear were the staff for the Body, Mind & Soul summer camp, which were held in five communities this summer. The theme for the camps this year was “Weird animals, Where Jesus’ love is one of a kind.” Each day the team reinforced one simple Bible point, which made it easy for kids to remember and apply to real life. There were Bible memory buddies that the kids could wear, share, read, and take home, as well as rotation stations to help scripture stick.

Each day, kids moved throughout activity stations in groups. Every station was designed to reinforce the daily bible point in a hands-on, interactive way. There were KidVid Cinema where real kids shared real stories of how God is working in their lives. These powerful videos connect the Scriptures to modern life like never before. There was a Critter Cafe, where the kids were able to prepare yummy snacks each day and talk to one another about the daily bible verse. There were also games games, arts & crafts and lunch!

The first camp was held in Parmelee, which was our biggest camp, with between 40-50 kids attending each day. The second week, the camp was held in St. Francis, and we were able to give the kids a tour of the Buechel Memorial Lakota Museum. Tony Lusvardi, SJ gave the kids a tour of the St. Charles Catholic church and answered any questions they had about the Church and about the statues! We also had a bulling prevention class with Arlie Eastman, a school counselor at St. Francis Indian School. We were able to go to radio station KINI and record bully prevention messages that are played on the radio. Our camp in Rosebud was another one of our bigger camps, which we held at the CYO building. We had the Mission Body, Mind & Soul camp going on at the same time. We finished the series with our last camp in Spring Creek.

Bags decorated by the children!

Bags decorated by the children!


Children at the St. Francis Camp


High School Students helping out!

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Campers at KINI

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Campers at St. Charles


Anti-Bullying Program

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Signs for Camp

We were blessed this year with two Jesuit high schools who came to help with our camps. St. Xavier school from Cincinnati, Ohio, came the 2nd week of June and stayed for 2 weeks, helping with the St. Francis and Rosebud camps. The Tampa Jesuit school, from Tampa, FL came the 3rd week of June, stayed for one week and helped with the Mission Camp. We were fortunate to have two schools here the same week, so we did two camps at once. We had Rosebud/Mission in the same week.

We are grateful and thankful for the two Jesuit schools for being able to come and help us make this years Body, Mind & Soul a huge success! Thank you to the staff and Jesuit Volunteers in Religious Education and all volunteers! We hope to go to more communities with our Body, Mind, and Soul Camps in the future!



Engaging the Word: 09/21/2014

In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard that we hear this Sunday Jesus is not offering advice on labor relations.  Jesus’ intention quite clear; he is attempting to describe the Kingdom of Heaven, highlighting how different are God’s ways from our ways, how different the Kingdom is from the world of labor and commerce.  Jesus is not knocking fair labor practices.  That simply is not the point.

In the reading from Isaiah that has been paired this week with the parable we are  counseled to “seek the Lord while he may be found,” to “call him while he is near.”  Well, when is that?  When may the Lord be found?  When is the Lord near?  The  Gospel passage today shares the good news that God is already looking for us, seeking us where we may be found, early in the day and in our final earthly moments.  God is always near, always coming to meet us right where we are.  So, our seeking is really about receiving the grace to hear God’s call to us in every moment.

The reward we receive when we hear God’s call and respond is the fullness of life in the Kingdom.  That reward is not gained by how much we do or for how long we work but by the graced reception of God’s love.  We do, however, need to do something.  We need to follow when God calls us.  We need to choose to step into the Kingdom, and we can make that choice in any moment.  When we step into the Kingdom, we find ourselves empowered for all the good and fruitful work that we do.

The challenge in this earthly life, of course, is that even if we step into the Kingdom in one moment, there is no guarantee that we will not step out of it in the next.  In time, in this life, we need to strive to respond in every moment to our God who is so near and always seeking us.  Has our last move put us into the Kingdom where in God’s sight everyone is first?  Let us pray for the grace to hear God’s call, step into the Kingdom of Heaven, and remain in God’s everlasting embrace of love.


1st Reading: Isaiah 55:6-9 ~ Responsorial: Psalm: 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18

2nd Reading: Philippians 1:20-24, 27 ~ Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16


2014-2015 Religious Education Classes

The 2014-15 Religious Education classes have started for grades 1st -5th  for Rosebud and He Dog Elementary and 1st-8th grades for Spring Creek elementary.  Religious Education classes are release time during the school day.  After school Religious Education has started for St. Francis Indian school, parents/guardians will have to provide transportation for this class, which is held on Mondays from 4 p.m.-5 p.m. at the Icimani Building in St. Francis.

You can pick up applications at the school offices. If you have any questions, or would like more information, please call Jenny at 747-2436. Thank you!

SFM ReligiousEd Bulletin Board

Engaging the Word: September 14th, 2014

So, what is so great about Jesus?

There are many ways to answer that question.  One way that comes to mind based on this week’s readings has two parts.

First, by his words and deeds Jesus revealed himself as the Son of God.  Those closest to him were convinced that he had the words of everlasting life.  They really believed that there was nothing more true than the good news that Jesus preached, the news that the Kingdom of God is at hand, that at any moment any one of us can stop, take stock of our situation, correct course, and step into the Kingdom.  We can bring glad tidings to the poor and proclaim liberty to captives and the recovery of sight to the blind.  We can let the oppressed go free and      proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.  We can get in touch with our deepest and most true desires and find that these are God’s deepest desires deepest and truest desires for us.  We can then live that will of God no matter the cost.  In vesting Jesus and his teaching with ultimate authority, the followers of Jesus made Jesus their God, and any believer will tell you that it is a good thing that they did, because Jesus is God.

Second, Paul writes to the Philippians that Jesus “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”  Yes, Jesus was (and is) 100% God, but Jesus was (and still is) 100% human.  The cross that each one of us bears as rational but limited beings is the knowledge that each one of us will die.  Fear of death is at the heart of what keeps us from living our lives in the eternal Kingdom of God, from knowing and doing God’s will, from living human life to the full.  Fear robs us of life.  When we fear, we can miss hearing the Good News and waste our lives.  Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and      ascension holds up our death right before our eyes and puts it into true perspective, saving us from fear, saving us from  wasting our lives, and enabling us to enter into eternal life.

1st Reading: Numbers 21:4-9 ~ Responsorial: Psalm: 78:1-2, 34-38

2nd Reading: Philippians 2:6-11~ Gospel: John 3:13-17


Engaging the Word: September 7, 2014

Have you ever been trying to tell someone something and they just were not paying attention?

Maybe the person you were trying to reach physically could not hear you, or maybe he or she could hear but was choosing not to listen.

The readings this week admonish us to counsel those who have gone astray.  We really are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.  If a fellow human being is on the wrong path, we have an obligation to help him or her get back on track.

Now, this is not permission to be a busybody or to impose on others our own will on their behavior.  It is an instruction, however, to love and to help those who are not behaving in loving ways to start responding in gratitude to God’s gift of life.

How can one tell whether or not to speak up?  First, one needs to think about why the other person’s actions are agitating.  Is it just a matter of differences in personal taste, or is the person really missing out on life?  It is important, too, to remember that we are in this life together and that we do not have to figure things out alone.  It is important to keep in mind as well that if discussing the issue with others offers no hope of doing any real good that one needs to keep his or her mouth shut.  If love is not the motivation and there is no realistic possibility that discussing the matter will help, then plain and simple it is gossip and that is a sin, but it is also a sin if one can help and chooses to do nothing.

Maybe it would be helpful to recall the way in which our  Creator who has loved us into existence reaches out to us when we fail to respond in love, always calling out to us but never restricting our freedom.

1st Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-9 ~ Responsorial: Psalm: 95:1-2,6-9

2nd Reading: Romans 13:8-10~ Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20


Family Recovery Program Dates for September

The 12-Hour Family program will take place from Monday, September 8th – Thursday, September 11th, 2014 at the Icimani Ya Waste’ Recovery Center in St. Francis, South Dakota. The program will run from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. each day.

The St. Francis 12-Hour Family Recovery Program is facilitated by local native people who live on the reservation, program includes video clips and live role plays, the program is structured to meet the needs of those family members who are living on the reservation.

Family Members will learn:

  • The side effects that drugs and alcohol have on the body and emotions.
  • The process of addiction and relapse.
  • Will learn about twelve step programs and other healthy ways designed for those who are affected by drugs and alcohol.
  • Learn different ways that will help you cope and maintain a less stressful life while coping with a person who is using drugs or alcohol.
  • The how and why alcoholism or drug addiction is a family disease.
  • About Co-dependency and have a greater understanding about the issues that surround the Co-dependent family member.
  • How to overcome these family roles and dynamics in a healthy way in order to bring about a healthier family structure.
  • Effective communication, listening and observing skills
  • Co-dependency and enabling conduct and its role in the addiction cycle and in family structure.

Administrative Leave will be granted to any Tribal Employee who wishes to attend.

The cost to attend the program is $50.00 per person. Must be paid in advance.

For applications or questions you can contact: Geraldine at 747-5547 or Jim at (605)259-3365 or email:


Engaging the Word: 08/31/2014

You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

When is saving something really wasting something?

Cake is meant to be eaten.  If it doesn’t get eaten, it goes to waste.  So if you save it, you waste it.

Now for a cake there’s no pain involved in fulfilling its purpose.  Cakes do not experience agony and distress as they are put to work exciting taste buds.  Being what it is called to be and doing what it is called to do has no cost for a cake.

Each of the readings assigned for this Sunday point to our purpose, to what we humans are meant to be, and to the cost and life carried by being and becoming the persons we are called to be and become.

No matter how much we may fight it, God has called each one of us in a unique and personal way.  The truth is that we long for our Creator, and in the end, the only way we can really get close to God is to be the persons who we have been created to be.  Our uniqueness brings with it some struggle.  It may seem easier hide our gifts and talents, not developing them or using them.  Some of our quirks and tastes may make others laugh or ridicule us, but if we bury the persons that God has created to live and flourish and bring life to the world, then in saving ourselves from pain, in attempting to save our lives, we really lose them.

Jesus embraced the human life he was given, even at the price of death.  It’s really the only way to live.

Let’s pray for the grace to come to know God’s unique call to each one of us, to embrace these calls, and live them, no matter the cost.


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