Francis, I am responding to your questions regarding the religious identity of our students and staff and our approach to world religions.
1. Religious Identity: These are rough estimates based on surveys which I give to students. Over 80% of our students are baptized in some Christian denomination.
Over 50% of our students are baptized Catholic. Over 90% of our students will claim that they practice Lakota Spirituality. However, defacto 75% of our students are unchurched; they practice neither Christianity nor traditional Lakota ways.
Over 60% of our staff are baptized Catholics. 95% are baptized Christians. 50% actively practice in the Lakota or Christian traditions, and some do both (e.g., I practice both.)
2. Teaching and Curriculum:
We used to offer a senior elective on World Religions. However, three years ago as department chair, after consulting with the principal (who is now our Director of Spiritual Formation) I decided that we would no longer offer that course. It is my belief (which is in accordance with our school's mission and tradition) that our students need to be rooted in the religious traditions and communities which are available to them here on the reservation. Respect for other traditions are a part of the two traditions we promote at our school: Lakota and Catholic. To expose them to other traditions while they are just learning their own is confusing. Students often opt for the easy way out, and decide that it does not matter what they practice; accordingly, they practice nothing. We want our students to be rooted in a faith tradition and faith community which will continually challenge them to grow spiritually. Therefore, our curriculum is Lakota and Catholic; it encourages our students to be involved in one or both of these traditions.
3. Interested and Contact Persons
Our new Director of Spiritual Formation (and former principal), Bob Brave Heart, could share with you how we are struggling to promote the Lakota and Catholic traditions. Although he is not active in a parish community, he was brought up Catholic and in the traditional Lakota ways. He is a wonderful man who has helped me shape a theology department curriculim which is rooted and respectful of both the Lakota and Catholic Traditions. You can contact me, although my response time is not always quick; We already have too much to do on the rez where we are understaffed and underfunded.
Sincerely, Pat Lynch, S.J.
Created: September 2, 2000 Updated: September 2, 2000