We’re in there… along with Wrigley Gum!

 Lillian Owen’s funeral Mass was this morning. As only South Dakota winter can do, we had ground blizzards bad enough to close the interstate. It was blowing hard enough that you couldn’t open your car door until it was “between gusts.” I think all the snow from western South Dakota is blowing through the Sisseton area today!

Of course the probability of being blown over doesn’t translate to staying home- at least not for all of the families Lillian has supported and befriended over her long life. Like so many Dakota of her generation, the federal policy of “resettlement and relocation” meant she lived and worked in an urban area (Chicago) for many years as she started to raise her family. That was true for all her siblings, and  many of her grandchildren, great grands, and great-great grands still live in urban areas across the US. So, not only did the crowd at St. Peter’s come from all across this reservation… they also came from Denver, Pittsburg, Chicago, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Spokane, and Portland, OR. 

St. Kateri Parish Choir (behind the coffin) and
Deacon Chet who officiated along with
Fr. Gregg.

The Mass was at St. Peter’s. Much like when we were at Sister Irene’s funeral Mass at St. Peter’s, there simply wasn’t enough room for everyone at St. Kateri’s. Because of the winds and blizzard conditions, we couldn’t go to the burial up at Old St. Benedict’s, west of Sica Hollow. So, instead, everyone climbed into their pickups, SUVs and cars, and went to St. Kateri’s for a “feed” hosted by Lillian’s tiwahe (extended family). 

Lillian’s obituary (LINK) reveals a rich and memorable life. It also mentions the time she spent at Divine Savior hospital in Portage, WI. The obituary, like the stories told throughout the all-night wake, really honors this woman who served her oyate (her people, tribe) and her tiospaye (all her relatives) and friends throughout her entire life. 

It was clear, by looking at the packed church and by seeing the long, long lines of cars and trucks near St. Kateri’s for the feed, that Lillian’s wisdom, caring, and leadership is a legacy that will continue to nourish Life in so many ways and through so many people. I know she spent many, many hours praying for others, right up until her final hours on this earth. Her prayers for others continue even now.