LEFT: Father Jones often traveled to people’s homes to celebrate Mass.
RIGHT: Part of a long line of Jesuits who ministered to the Lakota Sioux, Father Jones was instrumental in bringing education, jobs and new homes to the Rosebud Reservation.
"Real Homes Instead of Rusted Car Bodies and Tents"
Father Jones, a small-framed man with white hair and a twinkle in his eye, was honored for his more than four decades of work on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. His service to the Lakota Sioux touched all aspects of their lives, from the practical to the spiritual. In 1963, together with an Episcopal priest, Father Jones formed a Christian social action committee and wrote a proposal to the federal government that brought jobs, education, development and social services to the remote reservation. The grant they received also provided 375 transitional homes and a loan to build 400 others. Over ten years, almost 900 homes were constructed on the reservation, a “tremendous gift” for people who had been living in rusted car bodies and tents.
Father Jones also helped his parishioners deal with alcoholism and unemployment. But perhaps most important of all, he served as a spiritual anchor in the midst of their difficulties, providing comfort, hope and above all, love. “If they see that you love them and you want to help them – and I don’t mean doling things out – I mean a real sincere love and care for them,” he said, “they understand that and they’ll respond to that.”
Postscript: Reverend Richard Jones died in 2008.