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Native American Conference Planned for October
Everyone is invited to gather for a special opportunity to learn more about our Native American brothers and sisters, the Catholic Church, culture, traditions and our shared history. Titled “Tekakwitha: Making Things Right, Patron of our Mother Earth,” the conferece will be held on Saturday, October 24, at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Gaylord (611 W. North Street).
The day will begin with an opening prayer and smudging by Tony Davis, followed by a presentation entitled “Healing the Hurt” by Deleta Smith of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians. This presentation is aimed at sharing the history of the Native American Community and will include talking circles for participants to share their experiences and further discuss the effect history has had on the Native American community in our diocese.
Sister Susan Gardner, OP, Director of the Native American Apostolate in the Diocese of Gaylord, invites non-Natives to attend, saying “this presentation will be particularly helpful for any non-Natives to develop a better understanding of the role that government and church played in the lives of Native Americans.”
The afternoon will focus on the importance of Native American spirituality and customs with a performance by Terry and Darlene Wildman of RainSong Music and Storytelling. The Wildmans have traveled the country for over ten years using the unique and heartfelt Native American customs to sow the “seeds of healing [and] reconciliation” in churches, camps, on reservations and more.
This presentation, Gardner says, will “stress that Native American spirituality and customs are important and that people can practice these customs and still be Catholic.”
Jeanne Marriott, Diocesan Stewardship Specialist and member of the Native American Conference Planning Committee, echoes Gardner’s sentiments. “Not only is it important to educate ourselves on the heritage of the Church, both good and bad, but it’s imperative to discover our similarities in worship and incorporate the beautiful and unique customs of our Native American brothers and sisters.”
There is no cost to attend the conference as it is the beneficiary of funds from both the annual Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) and grants from the USCCB Office of Black and Indian Missions. However, free will donations will be accepted to benefit the Native American Apostolate and its work throughout the Diocese of Gaylord.
Sister Susan came to the Diocese of Gaylord in 2014, after having spent six years living and ministering with the First Nation Cree at the Nelson House Reserve in Northern Manitoba. Her ministry to the Native people there included preparing lay ministers for liturgies, sacramental preparation and presenting workshops on a variety of topics. She also participated in “Returning to the Spirit” and “Healing Soul Pain” programs focused on promoting an understanding the experiences of First Nation People who attended Residential Schools and to help them heal from any trauma they may have experienced in that system. Here in northern Michigan, Sister Sue has striven to connect with Native American brothers and sisters spread throughout the diocese and to continue the path to healing while forging ahead with the relationship between the Church and the Native American community.
The conference will begin with registration at 9:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m., with lunch included. While there is no cost, registrations are required and must be received by October 16. To register or for more information about the Native American Apostolate, contact Sr. Susan Gardner at 231.271.6651 or via email at email@example.com. Registration forms may be downloaded below.