History of Pastoral Ministry Since 1890

After Christ’s Resurrection, when he appeared to his disciples, Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.” Impelled by the breath of Life, like a wave through humanity, the Apostles and their descendants spread. Eighteen centuries later, their tide lapped on a farther shore of prairie and rolling hills: the land of the Lakota.

At its start, Holy Rosary Mission Parish was part of another unfortunate flood. The same westward expansion that delivered Christianity to the Lakota brought less salutary things, too. Fierce battles were won and lost. Near the mission's beginning was the end of a beloved way of life. No more the buffalo… no more the fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters who were lost in the struggle for continued Lakota independence.

Somehow, across this chasm of culture and jagged grief, new hope spread among the Lakota. Early Lakota catechists, including the Oglala medicine man Nicholas Black Elk, spread the word about the promises of Jesus to their families. Later, catechists like Phillip Fast Horse of Allen, William Randall, Louis Mousseaux and Edward White Crow of Wanblee, and Silas Fills The Pipe and Ivan Star Comes Out of Red Shirt Table and No Water would join them in the various communities. As Holy Rosary Mission Parish grew, their humble vitality was proof that Jesus' breath of life in the upper room was now the wind of God.

Since the beginning, trust and reverence have marked pastoral ministry on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. From the early meetings between Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet, S.J. and the Lakota that flowered into the strong faith of early Lakota catechists, to today's mission to help educate and prepare Lakota children for the challenges of the future, our work… and our faith have continued to flourish.

As part of its legacy, the mission remembers the invaluable work of people like St. Katharine Drexel and Chief Red Cloud. Now we have the vision and energy of Lakota men and women for modern challenges. When the late Steven Red Elk of St. Agnes Parish in Manderson became the first Native American ordained a deacon in the United States, the time came to recognize this truth: As the Spirit had been sent, so, too, Lakota Catholics must now send the Spirit. A circle had been formed.