Sr. Margaret Hillary attended the Tekakwitha Conference in Rapid City, South Dakota July 19-22, 2017. The theme of this year’s conference was Loving One Another through the Spirit of St. Kateri. The Conference is the Voice, Presence, and Identity of Indigenous Catholics of North America under the protection and inspiration of St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
A Reflection on the 2017 Tekakwitha Conference
The Tekakwitha Conference was a good experience for the 5 of us from our local Kateri Circle who were able to attend. At the opening All Nations Grand Entry, one of our women said, “This celebration makes me so proud to be a Catholic Native American.”
Other women spoke about the presentations they heard. They felt affirmed and learned new insights. I gleaned many new insights for my ministry. One idea that will be very helpful to me is to establish a Youth Kateri Circle. I hope to be able to introduce this concept with some of our native leaders as a way for us to recruit more youth and their families into active participation in our parish.
Another presentation that brought tears to my eyes was a little play called Voices from the Past. In this play three women represented tribal people, white settlers, and freed slaves. They spoke about their situation during different periods of history. The description of the human sufferings experienced by the Native Americans during certain periods was very moving. A further aspect of the story that impressed me was the change in attitude demonstrated by the white settler woman after she befriended a native woman. The white settler changed from an attitude of challenging and blaming natives to supporting them in their struggle for justice and fairness. This is also my experience with descendants of white settlers. There is a sense of harmony and mutuality among all the diverse cultures on this reservation. My assessment was confirmed later by one of our native women.
The Tekakwitha Conference was truly an inspiring and encouraging event. It was further enhanced by visiting with Sister Nathalie. I felt a sense of pride in our own Dominican Family. I am also grateful for our Dominican Foundation, Las Casas, for giving us a grant that made it possible for members of our local Kateri Circle to attend the Tekakwitha Conference.
Mission Statement: As members of the Tekakwitha Conference Inspired by St. Kateri Tekakwitha, a young Mohawk/Algonquin woman of the 17th Century, we renew our faith and reaffirm our baptismal call as followers of Jesus to proclaim the Good News. We pray with faith and hope for the continued intercession of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in the lives of all people.
Photo: Sr. Margaret attended with women from the parish where she ministers: St. Ignatius Mission in Montana, with the aid of a Las Casas Grant. From left to right: Ernestine, Marcella, Tammy, and Sr. Margaret.