Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Eagle Butte
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy

Letter to the Editor: A Sister’s farewell

I am submitting this as a farewell to EB.

Sr. Katherine

To the people on the Cheyenne River, I am bidding my farewell, as I will be leaving Eagle Butte this Sunday for Philadelphia.

After five years among you, and all of a sudden it hit me that I will be leaving behind a history of religious presence that has been here since 1911.

I bid farewell in both my roles as a religious sister and as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

Over the years, people have brought me gifts, which I did my best to share among the people, and I will bring and carry this practice with me to those people that I will work with in the coming years.

Perhaps most people know of the Benedictine and Sacred Heart Fathers and Brothers that have been here, but many may not know there were 8 previous congregations of religious sisters before I came to represent Medical Mission Sisters.

Here is a listing of religious sister congregations that have been here:

• Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen

• Presentation Sisters of Fargo

• Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth

• Oblate Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

• Daughters of Charity

• Sisters of Divine Savior (also known as Salvatorians)

• Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters (also called the Victory Knoll Sisters)

• Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy from Ireland

The Oblate Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (OBBS), who were here 25 years, first arriving in the 1980s at the request of Bishop Dimmerling. You may remember Sisters Francis, Anthony, Inez, Pat, Joan (who worked in the hospital) and Catherine.

They were the first occupiers of the convent I now will be leaving.

The group that stayed the longest was the Presentation Sisters from Fargo and Aberdeen who were here 34 years, who first worked in the old hospital and who later started Presentation College.

I learned that it was Sr. DePazzi who in the 1960s encouraged her congregation to set up the college here to provide nursing courses on the reservation.

The Presentation Sisters worked not only at the college (Sister Maura De Cranes and Marilyn Dunn), but ministered also in the outlying communities (Sisters Pat Prunty and Cheri Barn) and at the Sacred Heart Center (Sisters Ruth Geraets and Donata).

The Presentation sisters from Fargo were Sisters Olivia Sully, Sheila and Maris Stella. Other beloved names were Sisters Caroline Eulgen, and Lampion Briske, Leah Holsum, and Pauline and Luncinda-Sisters of Charity, Sr. Anne O’Sullivan-Sister of Mercy, Sr. Lucina- and Sr. Paula Wellitz-Victory Knoll Sister.

I am sorry for not knowing the names of the sisters from the other congregations, though I will leave my e-mail address and would be interested to hear from those of you that could supply them.

I am humbled with this list, recognizing how I have stood on the shoulders of all these past Sisters who were a presence among the people.

As a tribal employee at the Behavioral Health Department over these five years, part of my ministry — outside prescribing medications and counseling — was working to bring awareness around the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder by initiating the Fetal Alcohol Coalition, whose major accomplishment was the mural on Main Street next to the Wellness Center.

In recognition of this project and all of us that were part of it, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association awarded me the Psychiatric Nurse of the Year in 2015.

Part of my heart will always be here, and you will always be a part of me.

I will continue to do my best to live in a good way as you have taught me. Mitakuye oyasin.

Sr. Katherine Baltazar