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Covid-19 brings struggle, prayer to Standing Rock Reservation

August 27, 2020

Standing Rock Reservation Ministry

Public masses resumed in June on the Standing Rock Reservation, but the ministry team is still reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, with people leery of participating in public gatherings due to rising infection rates in this largely Native American population.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, and with our ongoing struggles against meth, alcohol and other drug addictions, we recently have begun an evening Mass and rosary walk with a few local women parishioners. Each week we dedicate one rosary after Mass to a particular block of homes and those living there as we pray and sing aloud, asking Our Lady’s intercession for families on that block. This has drawn children on bicycles, who follow us and ask for rosaries. They learn to pray while riding their bikes in the weekly mini-parade. We’ve felt our Lady’s protection as even the growling dogs have left us alone. We hope to build upon this weekly event.

At the two small mission parishes of Bullhead and Kenel, parishioners always inquire about the whereabouts of “The Sisters”: Sr. Mathilde Akatshi (SSFAT) and Sr. Jacque Schroeder (OSF) are both Franciscans but of different religious communities. They have become a source of loving, dependable, hospitable welcome who always greet Mass attendees warmly. Prior to the coronavirus they gave plenty of hugs. Now they resort to “virtual air-hugs” (6-foot distanced air hugs) which parish members join in and joke about good naturedly with empty outstretched arms! Their ever-presence the past three years was made possible when the diocese invited them to become part of a team with the parish priest for outreach and service, which is supported with generous funding from a BIMO grant.