Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph’s Chaplain

Good day from St. Joseph’s Indian School!

It’s another lovely day in the neighborhood… although the evil word SNOW has been mentioned on the weather reports! We have yet to see any and are thankful for mild fall weather.

Since the Lakota (Sioux) youth have begun second quarter, we recently held an awards ceremony for quarter one.  The rewards for A and B honor rolls and perfect attendance are a certificate and a WalMart gift card.  If a student is on the honor roll with perfect attendance next quarter, the award may increase in value!  We also have a contest between age groups to see which class can achieve the highest GPA (Grade Point Average).  The one with the highest average gets a pizza party and hangs the award plaque in their classroom.

Lakota (Sioux) students with their teacher.

Ron’s 5th grade class won the award for the highest cumulative GPA for Quarter One!

We honored all veterans and those actively serving our country during Sunday Mass at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel. THANK YOU just isn’t enough for their sacrifices.

Last Saturday, the Chamberlain Science Club hosted the 1st Annual Hot Chocolate 5K Walk/Run, and it began here on St. Joseph’s campus.  It was a way to celebrate Native American Month and learn about the importance of exercise all year long.  Sanford Hospital set up an informational booth and there were baked goodies and warm drinks for all those taking part.

Students are in the process of learning to sing two Christmas carols in the Lakota language — Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.  Aside from what they are learning in class, singing songs is a nice way to keep developing the Lakota language skills of our students.

This week, St. Joseph’s is honored to welcome Mr. Lawrence Diggs, our current Artist in Residence. He is helping our students express themselves through poetry!

St. Joseph’s was honored to have one of our Native American Studies teachers, Allen, give a presentation on historical trauma in American Indian History to a college class at Dakota Wesleyan University.  He shared how early boarding schools tried to negate Native American culture and heritage and ‘mold’ them into the white culture by cutting their hair and not letting them speak their native languages.  He also spoke about high rates of unemployment, suicide and sexual assaults currently present on the reservations.

Tree in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel

St. Joseph’s Indian School’s Tree of Remembrance

He also shared positive notes about how the reservations are working hard to combat suicides and offer resources to those who are struggling.  Change will not happen overnight, but he is happy that steps are being taken to get things headed in the right direction and he is proud to be part of that process. Read more in the article that appeared in the Mitchell Daily Republic!

We hope you have a wonderful week.  Say pilamayathank you – to a veteran and let them know you are grateful for their service to our country.

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


PS:  The picture shows our tree of remembrance in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel with the names of our Beloved Dead whom we are keeping in prayer this month.

Melanie works with the Lakota (Sioux) chidren in Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Melanie, Artist in Residence

Good afternoon from St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Today’s blog post comes from Melanie, a recent Artist in Residence at St. Joseph’s. Enjoy!

It has been such a blessing to dance with the students of St. Joseph’s through the Artist in Schools program with the South Dakota Arts Council. I was very grateful for the opportunity to be in this incredible gem of a state!

Pam, St. Joseph’s Personal Living Skills Instructor, was a great help in pulling it all together and having the residency run so smoothly!  She was very supportive and helpful and made a world of difference!

With the first through eighth grades, we explored the world of dance from many perspectives!  We danced to music from all of the over the world, from Ireland to Jamaica, Sweden to Oceania, India to Cuba and many other places.

Lakota (Sioux) students learning ballet moves.

Our students enjoyed learning from Melanie!

We explored ballet as a wonderful way to stay in peak performance shape, avoid injuries, build strength, flexibility and balance and respectfully warm up our bodies in the process!  We released some of our pre-conceived ideas about ballet and learned that many professional athletes use ballet in their training.

The dancers also took the ‘ballet class’ taught in the language of ballet, which is French.  They learned that by listening and watching, they could discern much of another language without speaking it.

The dancers explored how to embrace the RESPECT that a dancer is required to have for him/herself, for all others and for all of our environment.  We spent much of our time with creative movement and learning to tap into our own creative spirit, moving through a space filled with other dancers who were also spontaneously improvising…. without bumping into one another!

A St. Joseph's student learns how to dance with props.

A St. Joseph’s student learns how to dance with props.

I LOVED seeing smiling faces of the Lakota children in each class!

We also explored many different props such as cotton bandanas, silk scarves, stretchy loops and silk streamers while we challenged ourselves to dance with others by mirroring or shadowing their movements.  We learned that being a leader of movement means that we are responsible to our followers.

I am very impressed by and appreciative of the “Circle of Courage” that is emphasized at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  I experienced generosity of spirit, independence in creativity, mastery of attempting difficult ‘moves’ and lastly, relationships broadening as they danced together in a new way throughout the residency.

I was sad to leave the wonderful staff, faculty and students, but delighted that I have been blessed by the opportunity to dance with the students at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Thank you kindly.


Artist in Residence

Greetings from St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota!

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph’s Chaplain

The buzz of motorcycle traffic heading west for the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is no match for the buzz of campus as staff eagerly anticipate the beginning of the school year on August 10!

Excitement is growing as we begin All Staff Orientation Week. Around St. Joseph’s campus, this is a time of great anticipation. The orientation process gives new and veteran staff the chance to get to know one another, share insights and ask/answer questions. On Wednesday, all staff will come together for our traditional beginning of the year kickoff. We will begin the day with a prayer service in the Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel and culminate with lunch and an all-staff meeting.

The last of our student applications are being processed. It looks like we will start with over 200 students again this year. We eagerly anticipate their arrival this upcoming Sunday!

A female student works on her homework assignment.

Our Lakota (Sioux) Students start school at St. Joseph’s on Monday, August 10!

We are also getting ready to host our next donor luncheon in San Diego, California on August 15 and 16. Iyung and Haille are looking forward to the trip and would enjoy the opportunity to meet you if you are in the area. Please call 1-800-584-9200 for more information or to reserve your spot. . If you are not able to join us in San Diego, our next luncheon is in Dallas, Texas on October 3 and 4.

Since St. Joseph’s Indian School starts classes a few weeks ahead of our local public school, our high school students will enjoy a few more days of summer vacation. The high school students who participate in golf, football, volleyball and cross country will arrive this weekend to participate in preseason practices, while the remainder will return to campus for orientation on August 24 and 25. Classes at the public high school begin August 26. We are excited about a new program for our seniors geared toward preparing them for college through an independent lifestyle program. I will keep you informed on this program as it unfolds.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we prepare for the arrival of our Native American students. Your support allows us to collaborate with one another to offer our students and their families the best programs possible! Pilamayathank you.

May God continue to bless and reward you for your generosity. We keep you in our prayers.

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


Lots of activity on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus today. Despite freezing rain and treacherous icy roads, Chamberlain’s Chamber of Commerce hosted fourth, fifth and sixth grade girls basketball tournaments at the three gyms throughout town. St. Joseph’s hosted the sixth grade action. All of our teams got in three games to end the season. None of them won the championship, but all hustled and played hard.

Fr. Steve and Trenton chat at St. Joseph's Indian School's Christmas store.

Trenton and Fr. Steve talking about what he wrapped up for his family.

Today’s big event was the Christmas Store. All the children had a handful of tickets which they could use to “purchase” different items that donors have sent in. They picked up sweaters for grandpa and clothes for a baby sister, necklaces for mom or a stuffed animal for a younger brother. Once they loaded up their plastic garbage bags with a dozen items or so, they came to the skate room, where Santa Claus waited to greet them, and generous volunteers helped them wrap all the presents to take home and share with their loved ones. Staff also baked lots of Christmas goodies for snacks throughout the day. Each of the nineteen homes had about 20 minutes to do their shopping before the next group came in. The kids are excited and look forward to it, and staff enter into the spirit of the season. Several high school students also helped decorate the room and wrap presents, teaching them to give back to their younger relatives.

Tonight the Chamberlain Area Churches Choir performed a lovely Christmas Cantata in our Chapel. I sat next to the Rooney Home boys (6th-8th grades) but didn’t see any other Lakota students in the church. I was feeling bad that more of the kids couldn’t enjoy the lively harmonies and inspiring message. The Cantata was close to our primary students’ bedtime, so I understood. But then, I heard clapping coming from the choir loft. There was a lively group upstairs, wearing pajamas and bath robes, so they could go right from church to bedtime when all was finished!

There are advantages to having lots of connecting walk ways on our campus. And the choir seemed tickled and appreciative that our students were able to participate.

The William Home girls (4th-5th grade) held their annual holiday open house. The houseparents must have practiced some of questions with the girls so they could be good hostesses and work on social skills. Throughout my visit several of the girls asked me:

  • May I take your coat?
  • Are you comfortable?
  • Can I get you anything else?
  • How was your day?

From the moment they took my coat until the time I left, they were most gracious. Frederika sliced the cheese and sausage and wanted to know if it looked crooked. Trinity wondered how the cookies tasted since she baked them. One of the girls was featured on this year’s Christmas cards, and her face beamed with delight when I brought her a pile to share with her family and friends.

National Family Week is an annual event recognized each Thanksgiving week that celebrates the family and its value to society.  The theme for National Family Week is Connections Count, recognizing that strong families are at the center of strong communities.  Children live better lives when their families are strong!

At our celebration this year, we tried things a little differently.  Instead of dividing the student families up into the homes, we had all of the students gather at the Dining Hall here on campus.  Students sat at their family table.  They made a poster, writing down all the things they were thankful for and then colored it as a family.  Students also received a Christmas ornament on which they each wrote their names.

There was much laughter and talking throughout the early evening.  After their poster was complete, they enjoyed dinner together.  They enjoyed spending time with their family.  After dinner, everyone played Bingo.

All in all, the night was a great success! The students left with gifts to take home for their families and food gift cards to use for their Thanksgiving celebration.

The first significant snow of the winter blanketed our campus in white. It began with a couple of inches on Friday, another couple Saturday morning and about 5 more inches overnight. While the kids were riding bikes just a few days ago, this weekend they dug out the sleds and snowboards and saw who could make the longest slide down the hill to the football field. With strong winds and cold temperatures today’s powdery snow drifted thigh high in some places around campus. But with the morning light our crew was out in force clearing a path for students and staff, in vehicles or on foot.

The Native American girls did great dancing!

The girls did great!

We gathered in church more often than our usual weekend. Saturday morning is usually a bit of a sleep in day, but the Immaculate Conception Holy Day found a sleepier than normal group of Lakota students in the pews. St. Joseph’s regular Sunday mass is at 10:00. This morning we also added an 8:30 mass so the girls participating in the Dancing Dolls recital would enough time to get ready for their show without rushing. I rather enjoyed the more intimate, homogenous group to pray with and preach to. It’s hard to find messages that resonate well week after week with both first graders and high school seniors. Today I had a group of about 30 girls in 1st – 5th grades. In a dialogue homily style, I got them to tell me about their dance practice and preparation, and make the connection between getting ready for a big event like that and getting ready for the Lord as we enter more deeply into Advent.

Snow and ice closed the Interstate between Sioux Falls and Chamberlain and kept some of the crowd down, but the Dancing Dolls and Dudes performance was lively and fun anyway. The preschoolers are always the most heartwarming, doing simple steps and movements. The older kids have a little more razzle dazzle. And every grandparent in town vied for the front row and a good picture taking vantage.

As my own pride swelled seeing our St. Joseph students performing, I had a good idea of how grandparents might feel. The fruits of the kids dedicated practices showed. We’re grateful for the people in town who volunteer to organize the program every year, and give our students the exposure to fine arts and a fun opportunity.

Happy birthday Fr. Gary!

Happy birthday Fr. Gary!

77 year old Fr. Gary is a retired SCJ, part of our Chamberlain community. For his birthday we treated him to lunch downtown at the Anchor Grill. Santa Claus was making the rounds of local businesses and stopped by our table to pose for a mug shot and wish him the best. (He knows if we’ve been naughty or nice, but isn’t telling). Happy Birthday Fr. Gary!


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