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Saint Mary’s Church Lower Brule

February 25, 2022

Saint Mary’s Church in Lower Brule

For several years, Saint Mary’s Church in Lower Brule, within the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, has received a grant from the Black and Indian Mission Office (BIMO) to support operations on the Lower Brule Indian Reservation. With the generous support from BIMO, we have been able to reach a substantial number of individuals in our rural area.

This year, the church faced additional challenges in the wake of the pandemic. We welcomed a new priest, Fr. Jean Claude Mbassi, who assumed leadership in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic and had the challenge of making necessary changes for the well-being of our churchgoers as well as developing a strategy to get many individuals back to church after closures due to Covid. Saint Mary’s also encountered a lot of vandalism this year that could not be covered by insurance: the church hall had shingles torn off the roof, the garage door was broken, and two mowers and other equipment were stolen. Additionally, the sister’s trailer had the windows broken. With all of these challenges, the staff at St Mary’s wanted to reignite the local community members to become more involved in parish activities and come together as a community.

Indeed, our major concern was how to reach and reconnect a large portion of the congregation to the Church. Due to the lack of children’s activities, a number of young families had disengaged from the Church. To get them back and reach additional individuals, we decided to do a mass mailing to Christians as well as non-Christians throughout the reservation to increase our marketing reach.

The marketing technique worked great! Our first gathering was not only to introduce our new priest, Fr. Mbassi, but also to discuss children’s activities and other events to find a good balance that works for our parish. Last year, we were able to renew the Religious Education Program for children and wanted to bring the children back to church and to encourage their parents to walk closely with their children. Our first gathering was for a Thanksgiving meal, and we were able to reach the children and families at their school. The second time we reached out to the students and families was during their school lunch time. Each visit we delivered more than 150 treat bags to the students at the Lower Brule Elementary and Lower Brule Head Start program. The children were happy and very excited to have the treat bags for snack time!