“Sacred Bridges” was the theme of the October 13-14 Mission Education conference hosted by St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, SD.
“We are surrounded by Sacred Bridges but we have to look for them so that we can see them,” said Clare Willrodt, introducing the theme. Clare is director of public relations and outreach at St. Joseph’s
A “sacred bridge” is a link between cultures, between people, between religions. Located near a bridge across the Missouri River that literally links western and eastern South Dakota, St. Joseph’s itself is a sacred bridge that links Lakota culture and spirituality with many other cultures found in North America and beyond.
Mission Education opened with a Sunday liturgy that was immersed in Lakota spirituality. Participants smudged themselves with sage smoke as they walked into Our Lady of the Sioux chapel. A drum group played as student dancers dressed in traditional outfits made their way to the altar. Symbols of the Lakota people surrounded the fully packed chapel. Symbols were found on the walls, the windows and the altar. The building itself is a sacred bridge between cultures.
Throughout the two days, participants learned about the Dehonians’ ministries in South Dakota as well as Native American history and traditions. The conference ended with conversations in Talking Circles where a “talking stick” was passed between people, allowing participants to share their impressions of the two days in an ancient, Native American style.
“Being here, I realized how we are all a part of the same mission,” said a member of Sacred Heart Southern Missions’ staff. “We are in different places, we are doing different tasks, but in the end, our mission is the same: to continue the mission that Fr. Dehon started.”
“This was like a family reunion,” said another. “I got to meet cousins who I never knew before.”
In his closing comments, Mike Tyrell, president of St. Joseph’s, reminded participants to continue to be “bridge builders,” to continue the Dehonian mission of building sacred bridges between people and cultures.
Click here to read more about the conference on the province website.
Click here to view an online photo album from the two days.
Let the Priests of the Sacred Heart pray for your loved ones and intentions.