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For the People of South Dakota

For the People of South Dakota

Every summer, a contingent of Jesuit seniors travels halfway across the continent to make a difference in the lives of the impoverished Lakota Sioux people of the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Last week, 10 members of the Class of 2018 continued this wonderful tradition, assisting the St. Francis Mission in its work in the community there from June 3-10. (See a photo slideshow below.)

Led by chaperone Nick Werner, a Latin teacher who was making his fourth South Dakota mission trip, and Amy Martin, a biology teacher on her first mission to South Dakota (she chaperoned the Appalachia mission trip last summer), the experience was once again a huge success. 

Providing hands-on assistance to the Lakota Sioux people were Jesuit seniors Seth Cashen, Ian Halme, Chris Jennings, Preston Lawn, Shaughn Layton, Ben Ledwon, Jack Mahoney, Harrison Redd, Jake Rodriguez, and Jordan Vivero.

The students operated the "Mind, Body, and Soul" Vacation Bible School for about 30 Lakota children each day. They introduced the children to important biblical stories, taught basic prayers, performed arts and crafts, played games, and acted as instructors.

In the evenings they labored in the community food garden. Vista (AmeriCorps) Volunteers operate the garden to provide healthy nutritional alternatives at the reservation as part of the REDCO Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative.

Each night after preparing dinner, the boys participated in a group prayer and reflection, sharing and learning about themselves and their classmates, and developing deeper relationships.

Fr. John Hatcher ’61, S.J., who has worked with the St. Francis Mission in native ministry for more than 40 years (and is 4th from the left in the homepage photo), hosted the Jesuit group for a special Mass at the end of the week. With his impending retirement, this is expected to be Fr. Hatcher’s final year at the St. Francis Mission.

Among other highlights for the Jesuit students last week were a trip to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, a special performance on the piano by Vivero (who is an award-winning musician) for a local man who was 100 years old, and sightseeing in the beautiful Black Hills and Badlands regions.

About 20,000 Lakota live on the reservation, and roughly 8,000 identify as Catholics, but church attendance is very low and the reservation is plagued by poverty. 

Please see the photo slideshow below from South Dakota 2017:


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