This is the first in the series of interviews with leaders of the St. Francis Mission, for background, see An Introduction to the St. Francis Mission Among the Lakota
We start the interview by asking about the basic purpose of the Mission.
Q: Your literature says: “The purpose of the Mission is to re-evangelize Catholic Lakota people and bring the Gospel of Jesus the Christ to those who have not heard it. We respect the traditions of the Lakota people as we collaborate with them to meet the spiritual, educational, social, and physical needs of the community.”
About what percentage of the 20,000 Rosebud Indian Reservation members are Catholic?
(Fr. Hatcher) A: 40%
Q: Could you explain the part about “re-evangelize?” Has there been a general falling away from the Church amongst those originally evangelized and their descendants?
(Fr. Hatcher) A: Many of the present baptized Catholics of the reservation had no religious education and have not actively participated in the church. Our first responsibility is to reach out to those persons and give them the opportunity to learn about the church and experience the benefit of a praying community. Original evangelization took place in late 1800s. After WWII there was a steady decline in the practice of the faith.
Q: Has addiction been a factor in this? This may be of great interest to SoberCatholic.com readers as many had left the Faith due to various addictions, not just alcohol.
(Fr. Hatcher)A: Addiction to alcohol has been a major contribution to the dysfunction that people experience on the reservation. Unless the church addresses the alcohol and drug problem, there is probably no point in doing anything else. we are committed to bring healing in this area to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
Q: In what way do you incorporate their native traditions?
(Fr. Hatcher)A: Native people are welcome to use their traditional ways of praying and traditions to the church and in their prayer life. it is inappropriate for non-natives to use these symbols and their traditions. So, it is up to the native people to initiate their use.
(Photo of Buechel Memorial Museum, courtesy Mike O’Sullivan at the Mission)
Q: How involved is the recovery community in the sacramental life of the Church?
(Fr. Hatcher) A: Many of the people who have gone through the recovery process have returned to their church affiliation and now practice their religion.
(Photo of St. Charles Borromeo Church, courtesy Mike O’Sullivan at the Mission)
Q: Are Sunday and any weekday Masses well-attended?
(Fr. Hatcher) A: No, but they’re getting better. We’re seeing progress and for us it’s very much like starting over.
Q: What about Confession, is that a part of the members recovery program, and is its importance emphasized?
(Fr. Hatcher) A: Confession is coming back among those who are in recovery.
Q: The Church celebrates the seasons in Her own way, and the Church year is marked by many Feast Days and celebrations. Many people find the rhythm of the year helpful to mark the spiritual passage of time. It helps people “get through stuff.” Are there any special Feast days on the Church’s Liturgical calendar that are special to the members of the recovery community? I mean, beyond the major Holy Days and such.
(Fr. Hatcher) A: No, not that I know of currently.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"