We welcome God's timeless love, commissioning us to be the Body of Christ blessed and broken. ~ Mary Ann Barrett OP

Pope Francis’ visit to Canada this week on what he describes as a “penitential pilgrimage”, highlights the Catholic Church’s commitment to healing and reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people.

The Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids cannot help but recognize that the need for healing and reconciliation extends to the North Americas as well. We offer our Sisters’ presence and support, as witness to the violence, pain, and destitution the Church and others have wrought on Indigenous peoples through the centuries.

Las Casas: Dominicans in Ministry with Native Americans, Inc. was formed by the Dominican Sisters USA 45 years ago with a mission to seek justice in the lives of Native Americans, and share passion and concern for people who possess some of the most ancient heritage in our land.

Sr. Nathalie Meyer is president of Las Casas. In 2021-2022, “Las Casas collected from Dominican Sisters Congregation $14,690 for distribution to the Dominican Sisters to support ministry and resource needs on eight different sites on Native/Indigenous reservations from New Mexico to Montana,” says Sr. Nathalie.

In Montana, on the Flathead reservation with Salish and Kootenai people, Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters Edith Schnell and Margaret Hillary live and work in service to the local Indigenous community.

Ministry with Indigenous Youth

Sister Margaret Hillary OP with some of her kids in her youth ministry In Montana, on the Flathead reservation with Salish and Kootenai people.

Sr. Margaret describes her youth ministry, “We help the young people develop a strong sense of their identity, and of hope. In concert with tribal leaders, we work to build their sense of pride as a Native person. We support the community with compassion and understanding. We respect and appreciate them simply for who they are.” Sr. Margaret is transitioning from this ministry this fall, but notes the needs remain great.

Sr. Edith Snell reflects upon her ministry with older homebound adults on the Flathead Reservation and with families throughout the region which includes three parishes: St. Ignatius, Sacred Heart in Arlee, and St. John Berchmans in Jocko Missions. She helps families and church leadership prepare for funerals. She coordinates grief support groups. In all ways, her presence is a sign of the compassion of Christ.

“My heart goes out to older adults, who have no family members to care for their future living needs. I believe that at this time, we need to look closer at the needs of vulnerable peoples globally: quality healthcare, shelter, and residential life. I am encouraged and grateful that our Marywood complex in Grand Rapids will soon have facilities to help low-income adults and families in West Michigan.”

Dominican Sisters Margaret Hillary and Edith Snell

Sisters Edith Snell OP and Margaret Hillary OP