TAMPA — While many Jesuit High students spent their summer at the beach, about 10 students took off to South Dakota to live in a mobile home, making food for people on an Indian reservation.
It’s the second straight year that Jesuit has gone to the Rosebud Indian Reservation to assist the Lakota tribe. The students gave a vacation Bible school to the Lakota children, teaching them Bible stories, basic prayers, arts and crafts, and outdoor play. It was only for a week, but Director of Alumni Zack Haitz said that the Jesuit students learned as much as the Lakota kids.
“It was my second year and it meant a lot to me and the kids,” Haitz said. “Most of the kids we worked with were younger girls and it was really cool for the kids from Jesuit to work with girls. We don’t have a lot of them around here.”
Actually, there are no female students at Jesuit. Haitz said it was an eye-opening experience for his students.
The mission was started by Father John Hatcher, Jesuit class of 1961, who is the president of the St. Francis Mission.
He’s been working with native ministry for more than four decades and this is the second year of working with the Lakota tribe, which has more than 20,000 residents on the South Dakota location and about 8,000 that identify themselves as Catholics. One of the main parts of the mission included planting a large garden that now features onions, tomatoes and cabbage.
“Going up there was a big experience for the students,” Haitz said. “It was a whole different world than our world in Tampa. The Lakota kids really opened up when we talked about Bible passages.
“It was my second year and I look forward to going back, and so do some of the students who went this year.”