Sioux Spiritual Center
Nestled in the breaks of the Cheyenne River in western South Dakota, the Sioux Spiritual Center reflects the ongoing dedication of the Diocese of Rapid City and the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus to the spiritual and social well-being of the Lakota people. The center offers a variety of spiritual and educational programs. At the center, staff strive to create a sacred environment, a place between heaven and earth (Mahpiya na Maka Okogna in the Lakota language), where God’s Spirit and the Lakota people can become one.
A twelve member Board of Directors, the majority of which is Native American, is headed by Bishop Robert Gruss. The board has developed a variety of programs at this sacred site where God can minister to the Lakota People.
- Experiences in prayer that guide Lakota people on a path that offers the strength and spirit to face the challenges of everyday life, and the courage to create a vision for an obtainable future.
- Weekend parish retreats to provide a time to be quiet, to hear the voice of the Spirit, to heal, to consult and to be at peace.
- Recovery retreats to give hope to all those who are recovering from drug and/or alcohol addiction. The center provides a time and place for retreatants to strengthen the spiritual awakening begun in their treatment programs. These are inculturated weekends designed by Native people to allow them to draw on the healing richness of their Catholic and Lakota religious traditions.
- Ministry retreats for those who choose to serve in formal ministries. The center becomes a place of education and direction for Lakota leaders, men and women, ordained and non-ordained.
- Canku Wakan: The Office of Native American Ministry in cooperation with other Native people and the Sioux Spiritual Center staff developed an indigenous gathering called Canku Wakan — a four day experience of inculturated evangelization. This retreat is held at least twice a year.
- The Sioux Spiritual Center hosts a seven day education program for missionary personnel known as the Basic Directions in Native American Ministry Institute. Sponsored by the National Tekakwitha Conference, the institute assists in the formation of missionary personnel being sent to work with Native peoples in North America.
- In the 1990s, the center served as the meeting place for an Inculturation Task Force, a group of Native people who studied and discussed the relationship of Catholic theology and Lakota religious beliefs, with a view to incorporate Lakota symbol, rituals, and prayer forms within Catholic Liturgy. Their efforts resulted in the 1999 document, “Recommendations for Inculturation of Lakota Catholicism.” The center has also served to train Lakota catechists. The center continues to hold retreats for those participating in the Lay Ministry Formation Program and to conduct retreats and workshops for candidates for the permanent diaconate and their wives.
Sioux Spiritual Center New Beginnings
The Jesuits announced that beginning in Fiscal Year 2017, they will no longer be able to administer and manage the daily affairs of the Sioux Spiritual Center for the Diocese of Rapid City. They have been at the Center since its inception in 1973. (Add some more history
In 2016, with the approval of Bishop Robert Gruss, a committee was established to look at the purpose of the Center and to create a new Vision Statement with values and behaviors. The committee consisted of people who have knowledge of the SSC or those who utilize the center on a regular basis. Serving on the committee were; Dcn. Marlon LeneaughChairperson , Veronica Valandra, secretary, Rev. Steve Biegler, Rev. Ron Seminara, Ben Black Bear III and his wife Jenny, Rosie Roach, and Bill White.
The committee referred to itself as the Sioux Spiritual Center Planning Team (SSCPT). The first meeting was held in May of 2016. Given the scope of work it was decided that the committee would have their assigned task completed before the January 2017 Sioux Spiritual Center Board of Directors meeting.
The meetings of the SSCPT resulted in a new Purpose Statement, Values and Behaviors and a new Vision Statement. The Purpose Statement reads: The Sioux Spiritual Center exists to support Lakota and other native Peoples in providing a sacred place to pray, to form disciples of Jesus Christ and to grow as holy and healthy leaders of an inculturated church, who will seek to reconcile, heal and build relationships within the communities of the church.
The Values and Behaviors are as follows:
- Cultural Relevance: An environment which supports and respects all Native cultures and religious practices.
- We will promote the document “Recommendations for the Inculturation of Lakota Catholicism”.
- We will promote and encourage Native prayer and ceremonies.
- We will educate non-Natives to Native cultures and spiritualties.
- We will maintain an environment which bridges the richness of Native American and Catholic spiritualties.
- Prayer: Living in relationship with Tunkasila (Creator) according to one’s own culture.
- We will see the beauty of God in all creation.
- We will reflect daily with the Word of God.
- We will incorporate traditional Native ceremonies, such as the Aziliya rite, the Inipi and the Pipe ceremony
- We will actively participate in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing.
- We will turn to our Mother Mary and the saints, especially Juan Diego and St. Kateri Tekakwitha as models of prayer and intercessors.
- Community: (Mitakuye Oyasin): living as relatives and being responsible for the common good of all.
- We will create an attitude of openness, respect, and compassion toward all people
- We will promote healing of those who suffer inequality, poverty, injustice and other social ills.
- In Christ we will work collaboratively and respectfully as brothers and sisters across the Diocese and throughout the world.
- Waonsila ye: As an Ikce Wicasa (common man) pleading to God for mercy.
- We will daily receive and proclaim the merciful embrace of the Father.
- We will be merciful like Tunkasila.
- We will forgive others as Christ has forgiven us.
- We will practice the Lakota values of generosity, fortitude, wisdom and courage.
- In the Spirit of the Good Samaritan, we will live out the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy.
- Evangelization: Inviting others to a personal relationship with Jesus.
- We will develop Native leaders to share the Good News of Jesus.
- We will help others to discover their gifts and use them for the greater glory of God.
- We will promote and support the Lay Ministry Program.
- We will be develop workshops and retreats for various ministries.
The new Vision Statement for the Sioux Spiritual Center is: Heal—Reconcile—Empower Leaders
The Priorities that support the Vision Statement are:
“But when He heard this He said, “Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy not sacrifice. For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” [Matt 9:12-13]
Mindful of the healing ministry of Christ, we will develop healing programs which foster healing of the individual and family. We will invite others to experience the healing of Christ.
Goal: Assess the needs for healing among Native peoples by May 01, 2017
Goal: Evaluate the current healing ministries at the SSC by May 01, 2017
Goal: Submit a plan for healing ministries to the Bishop and the SSC Board of Directors and an implementation process by Aug. 1, 2017
“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away: behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself in Christ, and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, he reconciled to God.”[2 Cor 5; 17-20]
As God has reconciled us, through Jesus Christ, so we will promote forgiveness and healing within families; within and between communities; among racial groups; with the Church. We will invite others to experience the good news of God’s love through an encounter with Jesus Christ.
Goal: Using the information regarding the need for reconciliation in our diocese which has been provided to the Bishop, we will formulate a plan to foster reconciliation and implement it by December 1, 2017.
- Forming Leaders
“But Jesus called them to himself and said; “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”[Matt 20: 25-28]
Through personal invitation, we will call people to deepen their relationship with Christ. We will help them discover their gifts and empower them as leaders to build community and church.
Goal: Asses the current programs at SSC regarding their relevance for forming disciples and developing leaders by May. 1, 2017. Goal: Develop an updated plan for programs and retreats at the SSC to form disciples and develop leaders by Dec. 1, 2017.
The next step by the Board of Directors was to create a new job description for the next Executive Director. A job description was crafted as well as an advertisement that went out locally, regionally and nationally which resulted in four applicants for the Director position. Charles Rooks began work at as the new Director of Sioux Spiritual Center August 1., 2017