Sioux Spiritual Center begins endowment campaign
By Carole Brown
In 1976, Louis Frieberg was preparing to retire, but he wondered what would happen to St. Patrick Catholic Church and its cemetery, located on his ranch. Given the remoteness of its location, he wondered who would take care of it? Once the property was sold, would the church be turned into an animal shelter or granary? Who would keep the cows from walking through and over his parents’ graves?
He decided to donate some acreage with the church and cemetery to the Diocese of Rapid City in the hope that it would be taken care of. On December 31, 1976, he signed the papers.
In 1977 the diocese entrusted the stewardship of the property to the Jesuits missionary priests to create a place for the formation of Native American Catholics. Construction of the 15-bedroom house began in the summer of 1977. It was big enough to be purposeful and small enough to be intimate. They named it “Makpiya na Maka Okogna,” which is Lakota for “Between Heaven and Earth.” It came to be known locally as “The Sioux Spiritual Center.”
For 40 years, the Jesuits at the Sioux Spiritual Center devoted themselves to care for the special needs of Native American Catholics.The center became a wonderful place of respite and peace, far away from the stresses of daily life on the reservation. The Jesuits also directed the diaconate and lay formation programs for the diocese.
In 2018, the Jesuits handed over the management of the center to the Diocese of Rapid City, and the board opened its use to non-native Catholics as well. Since that time, the Sioux Spiritual Center has been in a process of re-developing its ministry for a wider variety of purposes. It continues to host the native recovery retreats and the native cursillo (Canku Wakan: Holy Road) as well as native parish groups. The diaconate and lay formation groups of the diocese continue to use the center. New retreats have been added to the roster, such as inner healing prayer retreats, Life in the Spirit retreats, and Ignatian silent directed retreats. The Covenant School of Spiritual Direction was established there in 2021. It has become discovered nationally, known as a special place to go off-grid and truly encounter the Lord in sacred silence. In spite of its increased use, the center has been carrying an annual budget deficit of about $50k, necessitating the establishment of an endowment to cover ongoing operating costs. A generous neighbor, Jimmy O’Grady, left part of his estate for an endowment with the Western South Dakota Catholic Foundation. Bishop Muhich has asked the board to begin the process of building out the endowment with an additional $1.2M dollars to add to this endowment to cover for the annual deficit. An internal feasibility study is being undertaken with the assistance of the Western South Dakota Catholic Foundation. The objective is straightforward: recruit generous Catholic families and individuals to offer a Planned or Deferred Gift that will evolve into a solid seven-figure endowment fund.
Already, select board members have expressed their willingness to include the Sioux Spiritual Center in their estate plans with the potential of more than $300k in new capital support. All that is necessary to ensure the success of the effort is continued prayer and additional commitments from devout Catholics throughout the region. “The goal is attainable and realistic,” says Deacon Greg Sass, chairman of the development board.
This is a lofty goal, but the Sioux Spiritual Center is a treasure worthy of such an effort. To learn more about the project and the Sioux Spiritual Center, please visit the website at www.siouxspiritualcenter.org, or contact me, the director, Carole Brown, at firstname.lastname@example.org.