Generous donors to the Dominican Sisters of Springfield are helping to rebuild Our Lady of the Sioux Parish and support the rehabilitation of parishioners’ homes on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where Sister Barbara Ann Bogenschutz has ministered since 2010. Over the summer she’s shared some good news with us.

Rehabilitation happens.

“The hail storm still leaves it signs on the many trailers and homes,” says Sister Barb. “Things move slowly here, VERY slowly. The five buildings at Our Lady of the Sioux have varying degrees of damage. The house on the hill was hit the hardest and the church was the next. We are back in the church, though it’s not ‘ready’—the windows are still boarded up—but we will pray and celebrate anyway.”

Young parishioners volunteer hours of help.

They took on a lot of work projects at the church, Sister Barb said, “Their young eager hands and helping hearts filled in a lot of ‘holes’ because I’ve been short one staff member.”

Former parish catechist moves toward canonization

Parishioners at Our Lady of the Sioux are especially proud of the movement to canonize Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950), once a catechist in the parish. Sister Barbara traveled with Mr. Black Elk’s grandson, George Looks Twice, to nearby Manderson, where Mr. Looks Twice validated his grandfather’s grave and recalled being present for his burial. In the photos, Mr. Looks Twice stands with Bishop Robert Gruss and Fr. Joe Daoust, SJ, at Nicholas’s grave, and in front of the home he grew up in the 30s and 40s.

youth removing bushes
Chief Black Elk grave
elderly man in yellow shirt

Violent Weather Doesn’t Detour Sister Barbara

picture collage of hail damage

Springfield Dominican Sister Barbara Ann Bogenschutz, OP, has worked among the indigenous people of the United States off and on—mostly on—since 1999. Our Lady of the Sioux Parish in Oglala, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, has been her home since 2010. This small, active parish is a the heart of the single most impoverished county in the United States. Everything about the environment is harsh and challenging. That was certainly true on a recent July Friday when high winds and gigantic hailstones ravaged the town, wreaking havoc on property but gratefully leaving the human occupants of Oglala in tact.

The hailstorm totaled Sister Barbara’s community vehicle, knocked out four of the six church windows, badly damaged the church van, and decimated all three of the vegetable gardens she depends on for fresh food. The nearby Red Cloud Indian School campus lost 304 windows of various sizes. By the grace of God, no one was reportedly killed or seriously injured, but the damage was extensive across the area.

Sister Barbara driving

Sister Barbara wrote to her Springfield Dominican sisters about the torrential rain and destructive hail:  “As it began, Sarah [the neighbor] and I rushed to the basement. For the next ten to fifteen minutes we heard banging and crashing non-stop. When we came up, we walked around and could not believe the devastation. All seven north and west-facing windows in our duplex were completely gone. Glass was everywhere. Hail balls were everywhere in each room and in the hallways.”

This is the thing: Sister Barbra hasn’t let the devastation slow her down! “For now, we do our usual jobs and spend many hours of clearing glass, washing what we can, going through soggy things, and giving thanks as we say very often ‘it could have been worse!'”

You can help support Sister Barbara and other Springfield Dominican Sisters by giving a gift today and selecting Greatest Need. Your gift will help alleviate emergency situations like the one in Oglala and ensure that all of our Sisters have what they need to serve God’s people.

Oglala welcome sign
George and Sr Barbara

Sister Barbara Ann Bogenschutz, OP, has served Native American people for nearly 20 years.  Today she is the Parish Life Coordinator for Our Lady of the Sioux Catholic Church, Oglala, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. George Looks Twice, (above) a lay minister at the church, is the grandson of Nicholas Black Elk, whose cause for canonization has been put forward by the diocese of Rapid City.

Our Lady of the Sioux Church, Brother Denny Ryan Center and Brother Rene Hall were dedicated on June 2, 2001. The buildings were built after the entire complex was destroyed on June 4, 1999 by a tornado. They have all recently suffered major damage after a wind and hail storm blew through Oglala in July 2018.

Our Lady of the Sioux Church

Our Lady of the Sioux Catholic Church, Oglala, South Dakota. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

inside small church
exterior of small church
Sr Barbara

St. Bernard Church, Red Shirt Table.

kids and sunday school
Sr Barb
kids and sunday school
Sr Barb and parishoner
two people walking toward town
Buffalo in the national park