It is strange the twists and turns our life journeys take us on. I have been reflecting these past few weeks about my time here at St. Joseph’s Indian School and about the impact the students made upon my life. I was thinking of one particular student I used as an example of going above and beyond what is asked of any of us. For many years, I used her as an example of her selfless action to help another in need in several of my classes.

Years ago, when this girl was in sixth grade, she had beautiful long hair and was very proud of it. One day she heard about a woman undergoing chemo therapy and was losing her hair and was in need of a wig. My student had her head shaved and donated all of her hair to help make a wig for this woman dealing with cancer. This past Friday, after several years of not seeing her, I bumped into her at a store. We were so glad to see one another and I was amazed at what a beautiful young woman she had grown into. I spoke to her husband and related what she had done in my class and he said she was still a woman of conviction and great compassion. This young woman is a true example of one the success stories of St. Joseph’s Indian School.

I am so proud of all of the students I’ve worked with. They have touched me, and I hope I have also had an impact on them. Some of the eighth graders have commented that we have known each other for eight years and, as they embark on a new journey, so shall I.

I have known my mentor match since first grade, when he hid in the closest of the classroom and would not speak to anyone but me! Now, he towers over me and is still growing (and I am over six feet in height!).

I will miss each student here and I thank each one for allowing me into their lives and trusting me with their stories of growing up Lakota. What an honor I have been bestowed with.

To all, I wish you peace and joy each day of your lives. Never stop dreaming and make those dreams become reality. I have always lived my life so there would never be any “should of, could of, would of…” and never stop believing, as Anne Frank said, “In the goodness of people.”

God bless,

Richard and his Lakota (Sioux) students.

Richard reading a book to the kids!

In a little over two weeks, on Sunday April 15, we will be having 21 students receiving the sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation.

It is an exciting time in their lives and a somewhat sad time for me as this will be the last time I prepare students for this sacred day. I will be leaving St. Joseph’s Indian School at the end of the school term.

I have been here for almost ten years and in those years have served in various roles, including teacher and houseparent. I have tried to bring passion, dignity and laughter to each different job I have done, but the time has come to bring in new blood and new ideas.

I have always believed in going out when you are on top and not clinging to a job because it is safe and secure. We see that often in sports, where athletes hold on for dear life to their career, even when they can no longer be an asset to the team. I am proud of the work I have accomplished here at St. Joseph’s and walk away with my head held high and, most importantly, with the love and respect of our students.

I will be moving to sunny Palm Springs, California where an earthquake lasts only thirty seconds, as opposed the three day blizzards we have here!

As I let the Spirit guide me, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I must say, I have enjoyed doing this blog and am glad so many of you have responded so positively to what I have written.

God Bless you all – Richard

Greetings from Richard!

The Lakota students continue their journey toward making their Sacraments in April. We have 26 students scheduled to make their sacraments, ranging from second grade to high school.

On Saturday, February 25, St. Joseph’s Indian School will be hosting a day retreat for the students who are in the RCIC program and their families. In the past, many families have attended this event and it has always been meaningful to all who have participated. During the day, we discuss the various sacraments the students will be receiving and students and families work on different projects together.

Students and their families decorate the Baptismal stoles they will wear when they are baptized. We also do a guided meditation on the Last Supper and a game to help the students learn about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in celebration of their Confirmation. The families will also do individual banners in commemoration of the students’ First Holy Communion.

The day culminates with Mass, during which we hold the Rite of Election where the students sign their names in the book acknowledging their willingness to become Catholics. I ask you to remember the students and their families in your prayers on February 25.

Greetings everyone, Richard here! May I wish you all a blessed Christmas time and my prayers for all to have a healthy and joyous new year. Now that the frenzy of shopping hopefully is over … except for the returns … let us take a moment to reflect of the meaning of this season and what the message of the Gospels is all about. Christ came in peace and lived in peace, yet His simple message has eluded humanity since His birth.

On December 11, in the Chapel of our Lady of the Sioux, we had the First Rite of the RCIC program. It is the Rite of Welcoming. We had twenty-five Lakota (Sioux) students partake in this ceremony conducted by Fr. Steve. This is the Rite where students ask to join the community in learning about becoming Catholic. The students ask for acceptance and the community pledges to support their endeavors. The community also prays that I be guided in teaching the students about faith issues. As part of the Rite. Fr. Steve blessed their senses and their hands and feet so they may walk in the path of Jesus. Each student at the conclusion received a Bible for them to read, as we journey on path to receiving First Holy Communion.

Before break, Fr. Anthony conducted class Masses for the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.  Each class had their own Mass in the morning before the start of the day. The students reflected on the experience and all said it was the best Mass they ever attended. They liked the shared intimacy and members of each class helped serve and did the readings of the day. It was a good experience for the students.

Before break, we also had confessions for the students. Many students who are not Catholic also attended and had the chance to speak and pray with the priest in the confessional; it gives the student an opportunity to focus on their spiritual development.

Until next year!