Walk with the Sicangu Lakota people

We’re all sick and tired of Covid-19 and the effect it has had on our lives. It’s the uncertainty that is especially difficult. We don’t know what the “new normal” is going to look like or how it will affect our programs. 

To open the dental clinic, we need major changes, equipment, and supplies. Volunteer dentists are ready to come, but our facility is not CDC-compliant. Of three grant requests, one has come through. If the others don’t, I’m sorry to say, we won’t be able to open. 

We are committed to opening Sapa Un Catholic Academy at the end of the summer, but what will that look like? At a tribal council meeting this summer, we received a nice “shout out” from a council member who spoke of how we continued education via online tutoring and take-home work and projects. But, ultimately, those can’t be a substitute for the classroom. We continue to make plans to create both a safe environment and the best learning experience on the reservation. 

other happenings on the Rosebud...

Recently we hosted another “Feeding South Dakota” event. As families drove up to receive boxes of food, we asked them how many people lived in their household. In some cases the answer was eighteen! The overcrowding and lack of adequate housing make containing the spread of Covid-19 very hard. 

The tribe has extended its curfew, its ban on large gatherings, and its shelter-in-place order for all but essential employees. That means canceling pow-wows and sun dances, important events that bring together families and friends from far and near and preserve the rich Lakota spirit and culture. We were hoping to open our churches for Mass, but that keeps getting postponed. People are becoming dispirited, and our crisis hotline is getting more calls. 

Is there any good news? Yes. With your help, St. Francis Mission continues to walk with the Sicangu Lakota people at a difficult time in their history. 

Also, Deacon Ben Black Bear, Jr. recently celebrated the 44th anniversary of his ordination. Besides his ongoing work of translating the Gospel of John into Lakota, he has also supplied the local radio stations with public service announcements telling people in Lakota how to stay safe and healthy and prevent the spread of the virus. He was invited to sing the “Four Directions” prayer at the beginning of the ordination of Rapid City’s new bishop. Deacon Ben can tell stories of other hard times in the life of the people and how SFM was there for them. He is not only a survivor but also someone that God is using to share the beauty of Lakota ways with the wider Church and society. 

As always, thank you for your continued prayers and support. May God bless you!

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