“Together” was their mantra they traveled from Tampa to the plains of South Dakota and the Rosebud Indian Reservation, 10 Jesuit High School boys on a service immersion trip from June 14-21.
And together they made a difference to the Lakota Sioux people of the region. Led for the second straight year by chaperones Nick Werner, a Jesuit High School Latin teacher, and Zack Haitz ’09, the contingent of Jesuit rising seniors provided hands-on assistance to the local St. Francis Mission in its ongoing work at the reservation.
“The trip was a great success again,” Haitz said. “It was a living experience of what it means to be a ‘Man for Others.’”
Jacob Yodzis, Michael Schmeling, Zachary Saylor, Dominic Santos, Jason Reynolds, Cameron Petrie, Thomas Mooney, Nick Messina, Connor LaVoy, Dominic Kynkor, E.J. Isenbergh, and Charles Butler were charged with running a 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, and acted as instructors.
Late in the afternoon each day the boys helped paint a church and worked in the community garden that provides food for the Lakota people.
"The trip blew my expectations out of the water," Petrie said. "I (thought it) would be like many other service opportunities with the poor in which we supply people with something they need and move our separate ways. (However), the interaction with the kids and the Lakota in general will definitely have a lasting impact on me that I never would have expected to receive. They were the most loving and happy people I have ever met."
Each night, after preparing dinner for the group, 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 40 years, hosted the group for a special Mass on Friday afternoon (June 19). Afterwards, the Jesuit boys held a cookout with Fr. Hatcher and many people from the community.
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. (To learn more about the St. Francis Mission, click here.)
"The main concept that I took from this experience was that love is existent and God is existent in places where there is nothing else," Petrie said. "I also became very good friends with some of my classmates who I would have never pictured myself being friends with, and I am thankful for that."
View a photo slideshow from the trip below, or click here.
- Admissions News
- All School News
- Homepage News
- Spiritual Life News