As one door closes…

Fr. Richard

Fr. Praveen Kumar Richard, SCJ, will soon return to the Indian District after several years of study and ministry in the US Province, including two years at St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota. Before leaving, he was featured in  St. Joe Strong, an internal school newsletter.

The publication began by noting something that Fr. Richard said in regard to the pandemic. “He acknowledged the fear and hopelessness so many felt but added that ‘eventually I realized that when one door is being closed, the other door opens for us to adapt and enter into a new way of life.’”

As the door on Fr. Richard’s time in South Dakota comes to a close, St. Joseph’s staff shared memories and well-wishes:

“Fr. Richard, I wish you the very best as you head to India. Hopefully, some of what we discussed regarding development and fundraising will be helpful to you in the years to come. We will miss your warm smile and friendliness. Perhaps one day, you will revisit us! Until then, please take care and God bless.” – Kory Christianson

“The Personal Care Center enjoyed Fr. Richard’s visits. His humor and positive attitude are contagious. We wish him all the best and will miss his smile and friendliness on campus.” – Geri Beck

“I’ve enjoyed every single thoughtful prayer he has put out for us. Although I wasn’t able to attend very many study sessions, I enjoyed that they made me see things in a different light. We all pray he will have a safe journey and hope he knows he won’t be forgotten.” – Carla Hubbard.

“Fr. Richard always has a kind word and a bright smile; he’s been a blessing to St. Joe’s.” – Jennifer Renner-Meyer

“Every week, Fr. Richard has allowed Christ to work through him to bring a prayer blessing to our thousands of Facebook followers. Whether during times of stress, celebration or simplicity, he seemed always to find the right words. Many have been blessed from these posts, and I will miss his words greatly.” – Hannah Ruhlman

“Fr. Richard, thank you so much for opening your heart and spiritual blessings to me when I needed them. I enjoyed all of our friendly hellos, your laughter and your willingness to support me and others in our times of need. I will miss you and pray for you and your family’s health, safety and protection. God has smiled upon us with your presence here at St. Joseph’s Indian School.” – Ronda Klein

“Thank you, Fr. Richard, for your smiles and kindness. It did not matter with whom you interacted; that person felt valued and listened to. You showed our staff and our students self-love and self-appreciation for the talents and blessings God gives each one of us. Thank you for your time with us.” – Michelle Eggers

Fr. Praveen with a student from St. Joseph’s

“Fr. Richard has taken a very Dehonian approach to his ministry at St. Joseph’s Indian School. He’s been great in liturgies at articulating the Gospel in the stories he shares with students and staff. He willingly has taken his ministry and the mission outside the Church. He has had a presence across campus, and through this involvement has helped to promote our mission.” – Mike Tyrell.

“Father Richard, thank you for coming to St. Joe’s. You were always kind and helpful. God Bless you in future endeavors.”  Mary Willrodt

“Jesuit theologian Teilhard de Chardin said, ‘Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.’ Then, truly St. Joseph’s Indian School has been in God’s presence with you here. Thank you, Fr. Richard.” – Clare Willrodt

“Fr. Richard went all in at St. Joseph’s Indian School. He went on the cultural trip; learned Lakota; taught in the classroom; went into the homes for prayer time; spent time learning in Development; offered spirituality time to Development staff; baptized, confirmed and gave First Communion; played with the students on the playground; helped teach Dancing Dolls; and was a Facebook post celebrity with his Friday blessings. It’s easy to say that in his two years on campus, Fr. Richard did EVERYTHING!” – Joe Tyrell

“Fr. Richard puts his heart into his messages that he shares with all. He personalizes the church services and prayer services by understanding the people and our community. His messages are meaningful and said with a good heart. His prayer services, which he made for our 7th and 8th grade cultural trips, were better than any off-campus services we have attended in 13 years.” – LaRayne Woster

“Everyone has their own circle of life, and in their life I believe that people are placed in your path for a reason, not sure why, but they are there for you to listen to, to learn from, and to love. Great friendships are built from this. Father our paths crossed here at St. Joe’s, and from that our friendship has grown too. You are now on your path to a new place, but it doesn’t mean that our friendship will stop or that our paths may never meet up again. I value the time that we talked and spent visiting. We will meet again, Father, and never forget us here at St. Joe’s. Thank You for all you have done for us.” – Patty Bourne

Many blessings to you, Fr. Richard, as you open a new door as a Dehonian.

Fr. Richard responds

Soon after reading the comments posted above, Fr. Richard wrote the following to the staff of St. Joseph’s: 

Hello everyone at St.Joe’s…

With a profound heart, full of love and prayers I would like to express my gratitude to every single person on this campus. St. Joe’s is a holy ground of God, who’s ever Inspiring Spirit continues his marvelous deeds among us, by touching our hearts daily. Since I have been present here as part of St.Joe’s family for the last two years, God allowed me also to experience the same spirit that you have been experiencing throughout the decades. I have no words than just simply wondering at the tremendous work of yours that you do for the development of the children. Very often, I was jealous of you all, for your dedicated service and for the energetic involvement in your given areas. I am praying and blessing that you will continue the same enthusiasm to the years to come.

I went through your farewell messages, while reading them all I literally felt that my eyes were full of tears. I didn’t know that my stay at St. Joe’s made a great impact on the lives of the campus. If it did so then I would just like to borrow a simple mantra of the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, she said, “do small things with great love”. And, indeed I simply applied it in my daily activities on the campus. But, I also have to confess that there are times I couldn’t do things with love because my human frailty closed my heart and mind. As we study sociology, no man can live in isolation, which means we are all in one way or the other are interconnected. Similarly, when you consider me that I am simple, kind, good and amicable, which in return tells me that since you possess these qualities, you have allowed me to put them into practice. Thank you, for your loving support and friendship during this little period of my stay with you.

I believe that St. Joe’s has given me an enriching witness and an inspiring guideline for my future mission in India. And, if everything goes according to the plan, I may leave on June 28th to Wisconsin and from there after a week, I will fly to India on July 6th. Please do keep me in your prayers and also somewhere at the corner of your hearts. I promise that you will remain in my prayers always. With great appreciation to your good hearts, I pray that the Heavenly Father bless you all with good health, body, mind and spirit. And also wishing you, to have a safe and good time of vacation during this summer.

-Fr. Richard, SCJ