Reflections: Mike Tyrell, president of St. Joseph’s Indian School

Mike Tyrell

We invite Dehonians, co-workers and other collaborators in SCJ ministry to share their personal reflections regarding the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in their lives and their communities. The following is from Mike Tyrell, president of the SCJs’ St. Joseph’s Indian School.

This period of uncertainty in today’s world generates many feelings, reactions and reflections in our small part of God’s earth.

Without a personal reference to give context to this catastrophe, it can be overwhelming and difficult to absorb the magnitude of the pandemic.  Fortunately, St. Joseph’s Indian School has a strong management team and other solid leaders across campus who are all pulling together to manage for the short-term while planning (as best we can) for the long-term.

I am consoled knowing that God does not give us more that we can handle. One only has to look at the life and writings of Fr. Dehon.  He speaks of the concept of abandonment, not from a place of uncertainty, but out of a spirit of “placing one’s plans in the hand of a loving God and accepting successes and set-backs, joys and disappointments, mistakes and triumphs.”   It is this concept of surrender that I’ve found myself hanging onto through this period.  It is part of a Dehonian Sprit that inspires us in this time of need.

I am bolstered in the knowledge that the organization will survive this based on two ideas.  First, we are a blessed organization with an important mission. I truly believe this.  That mission has played out with a history that includes great resilience and consistency.  That foundation has helped carry us through to where and who we are today.

Second, we have survived some very difficult periods over the years.  The challenges during the Great Depression should have closed the school: fire, drought, plagues of insects, etc.  In the 1990s we survived a period of insolvency that would have ruined other organizations.  In the 2000s there was the anthrax scare and the financial meltdown of 2008.  We survived all of those large struggles and many smaller ones, so now we are here to fight through these challenging times.

I end this reflection with two phrases from a recent focus meeting that included our staff. Those simple quotes are “We know St. Joe’s is here for us” and “We are all in this together!”  These expressions of solidarity will be part of our motivation as we look to an uncertain future, knowing a new normal is not too far off.  We remember that those we serve in our mission deserve an organization that is vibrant and there to assist with their struggles and celebrate their triumphs!

May God bless our students, their families, our supporters, our staff and the SCJs. Stay safe. Mitákuye Oyáśiŋ.

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