Archive for the ‘Native Ministries’ Category

Jesuit Highlights Consequences of Budget Cuts for Native Americans

Jesuit Father George WinzenburgThe New York Times recently reported that sequestration cuts are hurting Native American communities, including the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where the Jesuits have served since 1888. Jesuit Father George Winzenburg, president of Pine Ridge’s Red Cloud Indian School, spoke to The New York Times about the sense of resignation that has set in on the reservation.

“It’s one more reminder that our relationship with the federal government is a series of broken promises,” Fr. Winzenburg said. “It’s a series of underfunded projects and initiatives that we were told would be funded to allow us to live at the quality of life that other Americans do.”

According to reservation officials and residents, the poverty trap that has plagued the reservation for generations will likely be exacerbated by recent developments in federal policy. When budget cuts went into effect on March 1, many programs were exempted that benefit low-income Americans, but virtually none of the programs aiding American Indians were included on that list, reported The New York Times.

“Imagine how people feel who can’t help themselves,” said Robert Brave Heart Sr., executive vice president of Red Cloud Indian School. “It’s a condition that a lot of people believe is the result of the federal government putting them in that position, a lot of people are set up for failure. People have no hope and no ability whatsoever to change their fate in life. You take resources that they have, that are taken away, it just adds to the misery.”

Read the full story at The New York Times website.

Pope Tells Jesuits Their Place is on the Frontiers

Pope FrancisWhen Pope Francis met with the writers of the Jesuit journal “La Civilta Cattolica” at the Vatican in June, he had a clear message for Jesuits: “Your proper place is on the frontiers. This is the place of Jesuits.”

But he warned against trying to tame the frontiers. “You must go to the frontiers and not bring the frontiers home to varnish them a bit and tame them. In today’s world, subject to rapid changes and agitated by questions of great relevance for the life of the faith, a courageous commitment is urgent to educate to a faith of conviction and maturity, capable of giving meaning to life and of offering convincing answers to all those seeking God.”

The pope also spoke about the Jesuits’ charism, which he said includes looking for God in all things.

“One treasure of the Jesuits is spiritual discernment that seeks to recognize the presence of God’s spirit in human and cultural experiences,” said the Jesuit pope.

Pope Francis also said that his fellow Jesuits can help heal the rift between the Gospel and today’s cultures.

“This ministry is typical of the mission of the Society of Jesus,” he said, urging the editors and staff of the journal to continue offering the world “your reflections and your in-depth analyses” of cultural and social trends and transformations, including hot button topics.

Pope Francis said the magazine’s main task is to build bridges, not walls, and engage in dialogue with all people, even those who are not Christian but share the same values, as well as those who are antagonistic to the church.

To read his full address, visit Zenit.org. [Catholic News Service, Jesuit Curia]

Jesuit Travels to Rome for Canonization of First Native American Saint

Jesuit Father Patrick TwohyOne of the highlights of 2012 for Jesuit Father Patrick Twohy was traveling to Rome in October to watch Pope Benedict XVI canonize seven saints. “This is so right, the Church honoring those who lived the beatitudes,” Fr. Twohy recalls thinking of the experience.

After being called 40 years ago to serve Native American people, Fr. Twohy was in Rome to celebrate the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint.

Fr. Twohy, who is director of the Rocky Mountain Mission for the Northwest Jesuits and chaplain to Native Americans of the Seattle Archdiocese, traveled to the Vatican with a group of about 40 Native people from several Northwest tribes.

“We were there with many tribes. They all claim her because the honor of one is the honor of all. That certainly was the case on that wonderful day,” Fr. Twohy said.

As a member of the Tekakwitha Conference — the only annual gathering of Catholic Native peoples in North America — Fr. Twohy had prayed with about 1,000 others for the canonization of Kateri each year since Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1980.

“To have her honored is to honor all Native peoples, the sanctity of their lives and the beauty of their culture. I was blessed to be standing in St. Peter’s piazza with all these grandmothers and great grandmothers whose guidance I so value,” said Fr. Twohy, one of 12 Jesuits who serve Native Americans throughout the Northwest.

The Jesuits have a 170-year history with Native Americans, according to Fr. Twohy, who moved to the Colville Reservation at Nespelem, Wash., in 1973.

“That was the beginning and it has gotten deeper and more profound with each year for me,” said Fr. Twohy. “Now I see the world with a double richness. I belong to the Catholic tradition and that worldview and to those people whose wisdom spans thousands and thousands of years. I want to journey forever with them into the next world.”

Fr. Twohy joined the Jesuits at 18. “Ever since I was young, I’ve always been drawn to the mystery, that which is hidden in all things,” he said. “When I met the Jesuits who taught me in high school, I was deeply impressed with the width of their learning, the width of their hearts and their engagement with the world.”

For more, read the article by Annie Beckmann on the Seattle University website.

Jesuit Photographer Featured in The New York Times

Jesuit Father Don DollJesuit Father Don Doll has been a photographer — his second calling — for 50 years. The New York Times Lens blog recently examined the connection between Fr. Doll’s first calling to the priesthood and his calling to photography.

Fr. Doll began taking photos while working on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota in 1962. He said that after taking photos for over two years, he became discouraged because he “still hadn’t taken a decent picture.”

He considered giving up photography and went for a walk in the South Dakota prairie to think about what his mission as a Jesuit should be. “I heard a loud voice saying: ‘Stay with photography. It’s the first thing you really loved doing. Stay with it. Don’t worry if it takes 10 years,’ ” he recalls.

Fr. Doll stuck with photography, and his work has been published in National Geographic magazine and three books. His newest publication is an autobiographical book “A Call to Vision: A Jesuit’s Perspective on the World.”

Fr. Doll photo: Grandmother Therchik with her grandchildren

Grandmother Therchik, a Yupik Eskimo, enjoyed a moment with her grandchildren. The bonds of kinship are powerful in Eskimo society. Courtesy Don Doll, SJ.

Fr. Doll has used photography to promote Native American culture. “I learned to respect another culture, because we were immersed in it,” Fr. Doll said. “And I really learned about the values that the Native Americans have of sharing and their sense of generosity with one another, and how they honor you.”

In 1974, Fr. Doll returned to the Rosebud Reservation as a documentary photographer. He said he often prayed before releasing the shutter. “I used to pray that I could really make photographs that portrayed how special they are and something of the empathy they had and that God has for them,” he explained.

During a 30-day retreat, Fr. Doll discovered a link between prayer and photography. “I said: ‘Oh my god! Prayer is just like photography, where you have to let go of what you want to happen or what you think’s going to happen. You have to let go of your preconceptions and I think that same thing applies to photographing. You have to let go of your suppositions of what the picture is or should be and just be present in the moment.’ ”

Read the full story about Fr. Doll on the New York Times website and watch the Creighton University video that celebrates the photography of Fr. Doll below.

New Video Series Highlights the Work of the New York Province Jesuits in Micronesia

Jesuits and friends in MicronesiaFor more than seventy years, the Jesuits of the New York Province have served the people of Micronesia.  And thanks to a new video series, their incredible, faith-filled ministry throughout the Pacific islands is being shared.

In the first episode, on faith and spirituality in action, three New York Province Jesuits explain what they love about serving in the Pacific.

Jesuit Father John Mulreany does pastoral ministry and teaches at Yap Catholic High School, which opened last year. He’s happy with how the Catholic community pulled together to support the new school.

“People are really passionate about deepening their faith … and having more opportunities for prayer and worship,” Fr. Mulreany says.

Jesuit Father Richard McAuliff is director of Xavier High in Chuuk. He says that one of the best aspects of serving there for the past 20 years is that everything is about relationships.

“We might not have the technology, we might not have the modern conveniences, but what I’ve been taught by the people out here is that the most important thing is relationships — whether it’s with God, each other or yourself,” says Fr. McAuliff.

Jesuit Father Marc Roselli, who also serves at Xavier High, says it’s been one of his most gratifying teaching experiences because the students are filled with life, receptive and faith-filled.

Watch the first episode below and visit the New York Province website to view the other episodes in the series.