St. Joseph’s Indian School recently hosted 23 guests from Sacred Heart Southern Missions (SHSM). Also a mission of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJs), SHSM serves northern Mississippi, providing housing assistance, pastoral care and social services, as well as operating two schools.
The two groups came together as part of Mission Education, an effort developed by the U.S. Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart over 12 years ago. Staff and volunteers from various missions come together every few years to learn more about the congregation, its missions and its founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon.
St. Joseph’s Indian School and SHSM teamed up to expand the Mission Education experience. In 2010, approximately 20 staff members and students from St. Joseph’s visited SHSM to share the work being done in South Dakota.
From the Great Plains to the Mississippi Delta and beyond, the SCJs seek to bring the love of Christ to those most in need of healing and compassion, especially the families and children overlooked by society.
Just as St. Joseph’s Indian School meets the needs of Native American children in poverty, SHSM provides similar services to poverty-stricken populations in their area. In keeping with Fr. Dehon’s vision, both missions help provide quality education, social services and pastoral care to those who need it most.
“We are both fighting a centuries-old battle against inequality, discrimination, poverty and despair,” said Claire, a St. Joseph’s houseparent. “In both [Mississippi and South Dakota], oppression is more deeply ingrained in the fabric of the culture than the laws that were meant to relieve it ... Ours is a mission to be compassionate, meet people where they are, and share the good news. So whether people are in the Delta or on the ‘Rez,’ they can have a good school for their children and a church that responds to their needs. If we are going to be called Christians, it should show not just in our words but in our actions.”
In addition to staff presentations, students from Holy Family School in Holly Springs, Mississippi and Sacred Heart School in Southaven, Mississippi educated St. Joseph’s students about the culture and geography of their home state, including: