St. Francis Mission is responding to the religious void in the lives of so many on the reservation by providing the Sacraments in parishes led by the Lakota. Two Jesuit priests, a Jesuit scholastic, a Lakota deacon, and six Lakota-commissioned lay ministers are dedicated to helping the Lakota create communities of love and service in the five parishes of Rosebud Reservation. We are empowering the Lakota to dream about, act on, and achieve their hopes for their Church of the future. The Lakota are already actively serving on parish councils and committees, gaining leadership skills, and helping the parishes achieve financial independence.
The Church will not be fully realized on Rosebud Reservation until there are Lakota priests and religious sisters and brothers. It is in the parishes that the seeds of religious vocations are best planted.
Religious education, catechesis, and spiritual formation are provided to Lakota children and adults. The future of the Church on Rosebud Reservation depends on forming the next generation of Lakota Catholics. According to a recent Dartmouth Medical School study, youth who do not have a religious center are far more likely to drop out of school, abuse alcohol and other drugs, act criminally, and contemplate suicide.
Betty Young, a Lakota teacher, and three Jesuit volunteers lead our religious education program on Rosebud Reservation. Through release-time arrangements with the public schools, the Mission gives religious education to over 300 children per week, and we reach hundreds of children in the summer through our Body, Mind, and Soul day camps. Additionally, adults are now participating in baptism and marriage preparation classes in each of our parishes. Adult Lakota Catholics are strengthening their family life by taking responsibility for their faith.
Our religious education program seeks to reach more young people. More than 40 percent of the population on Rosebud Reservation is 18 years old or younger. Most of these young people have no religious center. Religious education instills a sense of God so that young people can begin to make good decisions early in life.