A word from Ben & Jen Black Bear (Religious Education Manager & Parish Administrator):
We attended the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering 2019, which took place in Washington, DC. The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering is organized by the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development in collaboration with 7 other USCCB departments and 15 national Catholic organizations. This central gathering of Catholic social ministry leaders in the U.S. annually brings together hundreds of participants whose faith inspires them to respond to pressing current domestic and global challenges relating to poverty, war, injustice and the promotion of human life and dignity. The theme for this year’s conference was "Let Justice Flow, A Call to Restore and Reconcile." We attended breakout sessions, some were, Celebrating Diversity in our Faith Communities, Panel Discussion with Q&A about Racism in the Church and Society; Answering the call to restore and reconcile, and many other sessions. It was a great opportunity for both Ben and I to attend. This was our second year attending. We were proud to see Fr. Henry Sands, on one of the panels discussing racism in the Church. He was able to bring awareness to the attendees about Native American people. We were asked to be the state captains for South Dakota. We scheduled meetings with our State Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds. We went to the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 and were able to visit with Senator Thune and a representative for Mike Rounds. Hundreds of Catholic Leaders from throughout our country were at the Capitol from the CSMG. Our faith called for us all to work for justice, promote healing and restoration, defend human life and dignity, and work for the common good of society. Both Ben, myself and a group of five from Mount Marty College, Yankton, SD were able to talk to Senator Thune and Senator Rounds staff member Mark Johnston about the importance of investing in the Social Safety Net, preserving funding to Nutrition programs, affordable housing and the Environment. Ben was able to advocate for funding for our Tribal Veterans program and health care. We were happy to meet the group from Mount Marty College, their Chaperone Jordan Foos, and four students. We were grateful for the opportunity to spend time with Father Henry Sands and meet many other people. While in Washington, we were able to tour the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and toured the U.S. Capitol. It was a learning experience and we are thankful for the opportunity to represent the St. Francis Mission and our Tribe!