Our Founding

Our Founding – Fr. Leo John Dehon

Our founding came about through Fr. Leo John Dehon, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. He believed in responding to God’s love by trying to meet the needs of those around us.

  • March 14, 1843: Born in LaChapelle, France
  • December 19, 1868: Ordained a priest
  • October 8, 1869: Served as First Vatican Council clerk
  • November 16, 1871: Began ministry at Saint Quentin, France
  • June 28, 1878: Founded Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJs)
  • August 12, 1925: Died in Brussels, Belgium.

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Fr. Henry Hogebach

Fr. Henry Hogebach was one of a group of SCJs from Germany who arrived in the United States in the early 1920s seeking to establish an SCJ presence in the country.

  • 1923: His ministry led him to the Lower Brule Reservation in South Dakota.
  • Spring 1927: Fr. Hogebach received permission to purchase the Columbus College campus at Chamberlain, South Dakota for $40,000.
  • Fall 1927: Fr. Hogebach opened St. Joseph’s Indian School with 53 Lakota boys and girls.

Though St. Joseph’s Indian School was not a government boarding school, it was originally much like the schools of that era. The difference at the outset would be that Native American parents chose to send their children there.

In its early years, the school saw many hard times, but through God’s grace and Fr. Hogebach’s dedication, the school opened every fall. Fr. Hogebach was able to obtain enough supplies to meet the needs of the children and Sisters who worked there.

Much of his time was spent raising funds to keep the school open; donations of clothing, shoes, medication and other supplies were greatly appreciated and well-used … just as they are today.

Once Fr. Hogebach acquired the buildings for St. Joseph’s Indian School, he lost no time further developing our Native American school.

  • Winter 1928: Fr. Henry went east to solicit sisters for the coming year. He found four sisters from Glen Riddle, Pa., for the new school term: two teachers and two sisters for the housework. The salary the sisters demanded was a daily prayer for blessings on their community and for vocations.
  • September 1929: the Franciscan Sisters arrived from Glen Riddle, Pa., a few days before school started. Sr. Quitteria had 32 years of experience in the classroom. Sr. Jeanne also taught, and Sr. Columba, Sr. Lillian and Sr. Ambrosia took over the domestic charges.

    The school bus brought 75 Lakota (Sioux) children from the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation to St. Joseph’s Indian School. The mission became more like a home under the guidance of the sisters, and many of the difficulties experienced the first year never made themselves felt in later years.