Indigenous Ministries

Young Adult Intentional Community

November 6, 2014
Indigenous Ministries

What’s in a name? We’ve been working on this for some time (drumroll please!) but are very excited to share our name!  Listening is an important part of our life here, and we wanted to take time to get to know our neighbors and form our vision first. Wopila (Woah-Pee-Lah) means “thank you” but a special kind.  Our elders here explain it means “thank you from the heart,” a deeper sort of thanks for a gift that touches one deeply.  It can also be used to offer one’s deepest thanks to God. 

For us, Wopila feels very appropriate out of our gratitude to God and to our Lakota neighbors for their hospitality.  It is a profound privilege to be able to live and serve here, in their sacred homeland.  We are also thankful to all of the church and non-profit partners near and far, and to the ELCA Synod and Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota for their support of our new, growing work in this place.  We have also been using this word with our children, in the GLORY program to say “Wopila Jesus.”  We celebrate our new name with heartfelt thanks to all of our relatives near and far. Wopila mitakuye oyasin!

One House, Many Hats! Our program spent its first year focused on prayerful listening and building relationships.  We were encouraged not to rush to adopt the exact model of more structured “church internships,” leaving space to envision new forms of ministry in this unique place.  This second year, however we came to discern certain Roles that suited us each in our work and discernment.  These roles are not intended to limit what future members might do, but help envision how a house of diverse gifts and passions might exist and impact the community positively.  All three members will be returning next year, and deepening these directions.


Artist in Residence (Anna Robinson)

Anna first came to the community back in September and has now taken on the position of Artist in Residence.  The majority of her time is spent working on musical composition and songwriting, as well as doing art related service hours in the community.  Right now she is spending time at the Catholic radio station KINI 96.1 FM making commercials and PSAs.  You can find her work on her website at

Future artists in Residence might share different gifts and passions, but would have a place to develop their craft while benefiting the Rosebud community in creative ways.


Hospitality and Youth Work (Taylor Andrade)

Taylor has gravitated to work in two different areas, helping us think through 2 possible roles.  While we are all called to hospitality in our Rule, Taylor has a special passion for connecting to and orienting mission groups and visitors.  She’s a welcoming presence, handling practical welcome issues and making herself available for questions and conversation about life here.  A veteran camp counselor at Thunderhead Episcopal Center, Taylor also has a passion for connecting our weekly GLORY program with special summer camp opportunities.  She’s done a great job of mentoring and encouraging youth to make positive decisions for their future.  This past year, she also worked part-time at the Boys and Girls Club in Mission, providing a safe, positive environment for a large number of kids.  Taylor is great at running games, leading discussions and building trust where kids are.


Educator in Residence (Kieran Conroy)

In his second year, Kieran transitioned to be the community’s first non-stipend member, beginning full-time work with nearby Todd County Middle Schools Exceptional Education program.  Our house, positioned at the edge of Mission’s teacher housing/Teach For America sites has long been a place of welcome and interaction with teachers from the start-, but an Educator in Residence in our program is someone who can bridge ministry and learning in unique ways.  They may have or be working towards certifications, but education is a clear direction they are discerning in various ways.  Kieran helped build lines of communication between the schools and our GLORY youth ministry, continued building contacts at Sinte Gleska University, and also ran an afterschool Cub Scouts program and volunteered at the Buffalo Jump Youth Center in Mission. Kieran also continues occasionally hosting and leading an ongoing Teachers Bible Study in various homes.


What’s everyone up to this summer?

Taylor is serving for June at Thunderhead Episcopal Center, a camp in the Black Hills serving youth from reservations and communities all over South Dakota.

Kieran and Anna are continuing various volunteer, mission team support and community programs.

Helping Rev. Lauren, our priest, with hospitality to summer groups building relationships between youth and volunteering at various sites.

We are continuing weekly House Nights, including spiritual and creative events, as well as exploring some special public services for the community to join our prayer.


We have our first guest seminarian!

At the end of May, the young adult community had the great delight of welcoming a seminarian into the house for two months. Nancee Cekuta drove in from Tennessee where she is going to school for a Masters in Divinity at the School of Theology, Sewanee: University of the South.  This is her first time in South Dakota. Nancee first wanted to become a priest when she was ten and lived next door to a convent and a house for priests.  She’s now come out to the Rosebud reservation to further discern her ordination and Native American ministries, something she’s always found important.  After graduating from seminary she hopes to either become a hospice chaplain, a parish priest, or a missionary priest. So far Nancee’s favorite thing about her experience on the reservation has been the unpredictability, like rescuing a new-born colt that got outside the fence.  As she puts it, “that’s something they don’t teach you in seminary.” 

The Rev. Bradley Hauff

Missioner for Indigenous Ministries

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