Many of you asked about my health and promised to pray for me and all those affected by Covid-19 here. Thank you! I’m fully recovered, which is a good thing because December was a very busy month for us. For the first time, we partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program. A full semitrailer truck arrived with 3,000 toys. We were responsible for sorting the toys and distributing them to families in 20 different communities. Helped by local volunteers, including firemen and local youth organization, our advancement team, William Long IV and Caroline DeCory, covered 709 miles in eight days. Because of the pandemic, many people had struggled to get gifts for their children, but Santa did not let them down.
As the families of our 52 students drove through our parking lot, the teachers of Sapa Un Catholic Academy gave the gift bags for each student. The “Giving Tree” that two South Dakota parishes – St. Patrick in Lead and St. Ambrose in Deadwood – sponsored for us made these gifts possible. Our sister parish, Sacred Heart, in Bellevue, Washington, also had a “Giving Tree” and collected more than $1,700 in gift cards. Thank you for making this Christmas so special during a hard year.
We celebrated Masses in all of our five churches. We limited attendance at our popular and always packed Midnight Mass, but, for those unable to attend, the Mass was live streamed on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s YouTube channel. Before Mass, Deacon Ben Black Bear explained the significance Christmas has for the Lakota people.
For his Eagle Scout project, P.J. McLeod of Arlington Heights, Illinois collected dental supplies from offices and his parish. He then came to Wisconsin, where I was making my annual retreat, and I drove a carload of supplies back to our clinic.
The Covid vaccine arrived on the Rosebud and is being distributed by the Indian Health Service, beginning with health-care and essential workers. People are very receptive and hoping that it will soon be given to our elders and other vulnerable people.
You, our supporters, have helped us in many ways in the last year besides your financial gifts and your prayers. You’ve made gifts of stock and purchased things on Amazon Smile. You’ve knitted winter clothes and sent hand-made masks, as well as school and dental supplies and more toys. You’ve also shared our needs with others and asked them to help us. Thank you! I hope that this new year will be healthier and more peaceful for all of us.