St. Joseph’s chapel

My dream of visiting St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota finally came true during our first trip up north.  (That’s what we South Texans call the northern part of the United States.)  And what a place!

The school, which borders on the expansive Missouri River that sometimes overflows, is a gold-eyed needle in a haystack on the Lewis and Clark Trail off Interstate 90.









St. Joseph’s chapel

On reaching the chapel, Steven shared his regret about not arrived early enough for us to attend Mass there that day. Then Margie, our tour guide, explained, “Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel is only for Sunday Mass.  Daily Mass is held in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel down the hall, but it’s just for those who work and live here at the school.”

We were nearing the end of our walking tour of the school, and I really wanted photos of the chapel.  Still, we’d been told that we couldn’t take photos at the museum; so I’d been careful not to photograph anyone or anything without asking first.

“May we take photos of the chapel?” I asked.

“Of course!  We want you to take photos of the chapel.  You’re welcome to come back after our walk and take lots of them.”

“Thank you!  We’ll be sure to do that before we leave.”



Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel











Prayers…  The first two are from Black Elk, Oglala Lakota Sioux, 1863-1950; and the third is from Frank Fools Crow, U.S. Senate, 1975.

One…  Hear me, four quarters of the world– a relative I am!  Give me the strength to walk the soft earth.  Give me the eyes to see and the strength to understand, that I may be like you.  With your power only can I face the winds.  Great Spirit… all over the earth the faces of living things are all alike.  With tenderness have these come up out of the ground.  Look upon these faces of children without number and with children in their arms, that they may face the winds and walk the good road to the day of quiet.  This is my prayer.  Hear me!

Two…  Hey-a-a-hey!  Hey-a-a-hey!  Hey-a-a-hey!  Hey-a-a-hey!

Grandfather, great mysterious one, you have been always; and before you nothing has been.  There is nothing to pray to but you.  The star nations all over the universe are yours, and yours are the grasses of the earth.  Day in and day out, you are the life of things.  You are older than all need, older than all pain and prayer.  Grandfather, all over the world the faces of the living ones are alike.

In tenderness they have come up out of the ground.  Look upon your children with children in their arms that they may face the winds and walk the good road to the day of quiet.  Teach me to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that live.  Sweeten my heart and fill me with light, and give me the strength to understand and the eyes to see.  Help me, for without you I am nothing.

Hetchetu aloh!

Three…  In the presence of this house, Grandfather, Wakan-Tanka, and from the directions where the sun sets, and from the direction of cleansing power, and from the direction of the rising sun, and from the direction of the middle of the day.  Grandfather, Wakan-Tanka, Grandmother, the Earth who hears everything, Grandmother, because you are woman, for this reason you are kind, I come to you this day.

To tell you to love the red men, and watch over them, and give these young men the understanding because, Grandmother, from you comes the good things, good things that are beyond our eyes to see have been blessed in our midst for this reason I make my supplication known to you again.

Give us a blessing so that our words and actions be one in unity, and that we be able to listen to each other, in so doing, we shall with good heart walk hand in hand to face the future.

In the presence of the outside, we are thankful for many blessings.  I make my prayer for all people, the children, the women and the men.  I pray that no harm will come to them, and that on the great island, there be no war, that there be no ill feelings among us.  From this day on may we walk hand in hand.  So be it.

Links of interest… Creation stories you probably haven’t heard…  First People…  Nicholas Black Elk: American catechist / great circle  (YouTube) / life is a circle / may be a saintneed for catechistssainthood cause advances with U.S. bishops’ vote…  St. Kateri Tekakwitha: blessed /  chaplet (more) / inspiration / lily of the Mohawks: article – celebrating – more /  model ecologist / special prayers…  St. Joseph’s Indian School: blog / chapel / culture / museum / river / town / website

WP posts…  Kateri’s sainthood…  Sioux chapel stations

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