Across Two Reservations, Building a Spiritual Community

January 22, 2018



Each winter, Red Cloud’s parish team creates a unique day-long retreat for confirmation candidates—both youth and adult parishioners who are preparing to take the next step in their spiritual journey in the Church.

But this December, something even more special happened. Parish teams from both the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations created a retreat together, to share resources and build community among candidates preparing for this significant moment in their spiritual lives.

A group of over 30 candidates and family members came together at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Martin, South Dakota—halfway between the two reservations—to spend the day preparing for this powerful rite of passage.

“Joining together in this way helped our candidates see they are not the only few being confirmed,” said Sister Connie Schmidt, SSND, Red Cloud’s assistant for evangelization and formation, who coordinates the Confirmation program on the Pine Ridge Reservation. “They are part of a larger community that is being called to deepen their spiritual life. And there is strength and love in being a part of that community.”

Jennifer Black Bear, the religious education director for the St. Charles Parish Confirmation Group on the Rosebud Reservation, agreed.

"It was such a wonderful and blessed opportunity for our Confirmation group to be invited by Sister Connie Schmidt and (Red Cloud’s Pastoral Coordinator) Veronica Valandra to join their Confirmation retreat in December. Our Confirmation group enjoyed the day, not only meeting other people and youth but also learning so much together! We look forward to working together again in the future."



These retreats are a core part of the religious education and guidance parish teams provides to youth and families every single year. This year’s retreat included three separate sessions for youth candidates, their parents or guardians, and for the growing number of adult confirmation candidates. In a special addition, three young parish members who were confirmed recently came to speak with youth candidates and their families about their confirmation experience. They shared how important their preparations were—and how their journey helped them to deepen their own connection to the spiritual world.

There was also time for fun: the whole group took part in a game of “Confirmation Jeopardy” to test how much they had learned about the sacrament through their preparation.

During a meaningful Mass toward the end of the day, candidates and their loved ones had a chance to reflect on all they’d learned. And to close the day, the group shared a wonderful meal together, sharing support and friendship.

“I am so grateful to all who came, and to the catechists who helped with this special day,” said Sister Connie. “Coming together like this is one of the most important ways we can support our candidates in their spiritual journeys.”


Photos courtesy Joyce Tibbitts



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