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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Saintly St. Labre

     I am now the proud owner of a genuine buffalo bone letter opener, and, given how sharp that tip is, it could be an opener of other things in case of need. Strapped with sinews onto a long pole, it would make a formidable weapon. I don't think the people who sent it to me expect me to wreak havoc, though, because they are the good folk of St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, Montana. 
     When I send them a donation these days, I check the "no premium" box, so I guess this was just a present. There's a charming Christmas ornament every year, and I have a nifty ceramic candle holder and a couple of beaded crosses. Once they sent a small original oil painting of a tepee at sunset. I gave it to my daughter for her classroom, since she was teaching Last of the Mohicans. (Different region, I know, but the image was pretty generic.) None of these is the reason I donate to St. Labre, though. 
     One of their shopping bags caught the eye of a fellow shopper in Publix here in Orlando, and he asked whether we supported the school. Then he asked whether we were Catholic. We aren't, and neither was he, but we agreed that this Catholic boarding and day school for Crow and Cheyenne children was worth supporting.
     Many of their students come from poorest-of-the-poor families on reservations. Many would not have a warm coat or a decent meal if it were not for the school. They care for the kids and send many of them on to college. That would be enough to keep me donating, but this PCA Presbyterian is also impressed with their expressions of faith. Unlike Indian schools of old, they don't try to stamp out Indian culture. They teach the native languages and crafts. In one newsletter, I learned that they taught students to express thanks for the life of cattle slaughtered for their meat. Their chapel is shaped like a tepee. 
     Best of all, they produce students like the girl who won their contest to name the new library. She explained that, as Indians, they have great respect for the office of chief, and that, as Christians, they revere Jesus Christ as the cornerstone of faith. Students now read and study in the Chief Cornerstone Library. I sent that child a fan letter. Check them out if you like: www.stlabre.org/ 

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