Father John Hatcher, S.J. has worked among the Lakota in the Diocese of Rapid City for 42 years, and since 2003, has served as President of the St. Francis Mission, a Jesuit ministry serving the Sicangu Lakota on the Rosebud Reservation, for the last fourteen (14) years. Life on the Rosebud presents social, economic and spiritual challenges and Fr. Hatcher has worked tirelessly to address these issues. His “can do” approach and vision of a better future has resulted in the development of programs at the Mission to address some of those needs.
Fr. Hatcher respects the traditions of the Lakota, while, also, urging them to take the ownership of their Catholic faith by fully participating in parish life and bringing the gift of the culture to the universal church. This has led to more families attending Mass on a regular basis in the four (4) parishes, increased baptisms and confirmations, and more couples seeking marriage in the Church.
He has done more than revitalize the four parishes. In 2007, he launched two recovery centers that encourages sobriety and strengthens family life. The centers have helped more than 300 families maintain sobriety, and works with incarcerated adults. He also has instituted religious educations programs in four schools serving more than 400 children per week.
His belief in local people in leadership positions within the church has resulted in Lakota’s successfully managing the Mission’s programs: 1). Two recovery centers, 2). Four religious education sites and Religious camps, 3). A Suicide and Crisis line, 4). A Dental Clinic, 5). A Radio station, 6). The Buechel Memorial Lakota Museum, and 7). The Sapa Un Catholic Academy.
In his early years on the Rosebud, he recognized the need for a more effective educational program, one based upon academic achievement, faith based, future leadership development, and the teaching of the Lakota History and Language. So In 2013, the Sapa Un Catholic Academy opened its doors to 10 students in grade 3. In subsequent years the educational need resulted in starting at the kindergarten level. For the 2017-18 school year there will be 40 students in grades K-7. Sapa Un has a great future and its development will continue with very positive results.
Father Hatcher has brought a new model of Mission and Ministry to the Rosebud. His belief in collaboration with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and its programs will continue and the services provided will be more effective. His efforts have led to real and effective solutions, whose results with continue to unfold.