Through March and April, only one person on the Rosebud was confirmed to have Covid-19, and that person recovered. But the South Dakota Department of Health has declared that the spread is now “substantial.” To halt it, the chairman and council of the tribe have introduced curfews, checkpoints, and shelter-in-place orders.
The tribe set up a shelter at the big school complex next to the Mission. Five nurses moved into one of our guest houses, which, at this time of year, is usually filled with dental school volunteers. The other guest house has become a safe haven for some others who needed shelter after a visitor to their residence tested positive for Covid-19.
(pictured top to bottom: Local nurse DeAnn Eastman-Jansen. Where the nurses are staying. Theresa Leader Charge and Fr. Lafontaine preparing food boxes for school families.
Although churches in the Rapid City Diocese opened for worship on May 16, those on the reservation have had to remain closed. Father Jacob Boddicker and Father Jim Lafontaine continue to bring Holy Communion to people and to counsel them. They and the Sapa Un staff deliver food to families all over the reservation. One of our board members donated fifty $10 bills for needy families: a big help in this hard time.
It hurts to see our churches still empty, but as we work together with tribal organizations, I know we are meeting the Lord in a different but no less real way. Jesus made that clear in a parable about separating the goats from the sheep (Matthew, chapter 25). Its lesson is that whatever we neglect to do for our brothers and sisters in need, we neglect to do for Jesus. Whatever we do for them, we do for Jesus. Even if we do not consciously recognize him in each person in need, Jesus is present.
In this time of crisis, I thank you for enabling us to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, and counsel the troubled. Through the works of mercy that you are empowering St. Francis Mission to do, you are helping many people. I believe that one day, in a life beyond this life, you will meet them face to face.