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Are you hearing
God's call?

Gifted by Native Peoples

October 2006

LEADER: As we continue celebrating the l50th Anniversary of the Sisters of Providence coming to the West, we want to remember the many ways the Native Americans have gifted us as we lived among them and tried to assist in meeting their basic needs for health and education.

OPENING SONG: Native American music on a CD or tape
Spirit of God, by Miriam Therese Winter, MMS


LEADER: Creator God of our past and our future, it is our privilege to join with all creation in praising you, our wondrous God.

ALL: You made us in your own image and set us in the midst of your creation. In ages past, you chose a people and gave them a future full of promise. When you freed them from oppression, they brought with them the hope that all people are blessed and all people could be free.

A moving tale of adventure is the story of the four pioneer Sisters who set out from Montreal on June 1, l864 on the long ocean voyage to Vancouver in Washington territory. At Vancouver they enjoyed a delightful rest with their own sisters, before they set out on the most arduous part of their journey to St. Ignatius. They traveled by steamer up the Columbia, by prairie schooner to Walla Walla; thence on horseback for hundreds and hundreds of miles, making their way through forests and over fallen timbers; by precipices and through rushing brooks; by mountains whose summits were lost in the clouds; then by flatboat on the Coeur díAlene Lake. They were the first Sisters to arrive in Montana, (October 7, 1864) and the first white women to cross the Coeur díAlene Mountains (sic).
[Adapted from The Fruit of Her Hands, compiled by Mother Gerard of Providence]

The opening of Our Lady of Seven Dolors Industrial School in 1868 stirred the hearts of many of the Providence missionary sisters in the West ... Anecdotes of Indians with their novel customs and colorful dress had captivated eager listeners among the sisters ... the glamour of the imagined appeal of the Indian apostolate wore off soon enough. Something much deeper and much more rewarding replaced it as the sisters came to know and to love the Indians as persons. They learned that they are a sensitive people with soft voices and a reverence for nature. They are a people who find beauty and meaning in cloud formations, the smell of the air, the lap of the waves, the feel of wet sand.
[From The Way It Was In Providence Schools, by Dorothy Lentz, SP

We write of the people who live in this land, people who love natureís freedom and beauty, who are alive with song and poetry. But many of these people are also poor and suffer oppression. The poor of our land have been wounded, but they are not crushed.The Spirit still lives ... They sing of a life free and simple, with time for another, and for peopleís needs, based on the dignity of the human person, at one with natureís beauty. This Land is Home to Me.
[Adapted from the Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops of Region III]


(Invite each person present to read a verse until all have been read.)

How good it is to celebrate your presence, God
and to sing your praises throughout each day.

We celebrate what you have done for us through history;
your creation of our world and the sun and the moon
and the unnumbered stars that light up our universe,
your creatures that swim and crawl and walk and fly upon our planet,
your children destined to enjoy these great gifts about them.

We praise you, God, for dealing with us;
through blessings heaped upon us;
your revelations through signs and wonder;
your tender love and gentle concern and care for us.

We celebrate your continued blessings to our world;
the flowers that bloom in glorious color;
the rains that freshen the earth;
the birds that fill the air with song.

We give thanks to you, O God, for your perpetual love;
for your forgiveness of our sins;
for your pursuit of those who run from you.

ALL: We call upon all to praise God; those who preach to proclaim Godís love; those who sing to glorify Godís name; those who can shout or whistle or write or paint or dance or play musical instruments or beat on drums or ring bells, to join in celebration of the majesty of our great and loving God.

  • How have I been gifted by Native Americans?
  • In what ways do I feel called to be in solidarity with Native Americans in healing the wounds caused by oppression and injustice?

LEADER: I invite each person present to speak aloud the name(s) of a person or group who has helped you better appreciate and understand Native Americans and their culture.


O Great Spirit
whose voice I hear in the winds,
and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me!
I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty,
and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.

Make my hands
respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.

Make me wise
so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.

Let me learn
the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength,
not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy - myself.

Make me always ready
to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.

So when life fades,
as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.
(from Salish Indian Prayer card in St. Ignatius Mission Church)

Preparation Page for Leader

1) Have copies available for participants of the prayer service.

2) Have a CD or tape of Native American music ready to play or have copies of the opening song available for participants.

3) At the time of sharing, the leader may want to have the group use the mutual invitation process. If this is being done in a group where the people do not know each other well, it is important to have name tags for everyone present. To begin the leader explains the process in words similar to this:
During our group sharing we will be using a mutual invitation process. As the leader I will begin the sharing. When I finish sharing, I will invite another person by name to be next. That person shares or passes, then invites another person by name to share. Each person has a right to share or to pass AND each person invites the next person to share until all in the group have been invited. Now I will begin.