Office of Native Ministry
The Diocese of Rapid City established the Office of Native Ministry to serve as a liaison between the Native community and the diocese. This ministry is significant because Native Americans comprise 27% of the Catholic population in the diocese.
In an effort to include and support Native ministry across the diocese, the Director of the Office of Native Ministry works in collaboration with the staff at the Sioux Spiritual Center to develop and promote programs relevant to the spiritual needs of Native People. The Sioux Spiritual Center, is a retreat center and house of prayer established specifically for Native People. It serves as a catalyst for:
- Retreat and spiritual development utilizing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius,
- The formation of Lakota catechists, lay ministers, deacons and priests,
- The preparation of missionary personnel assigned to minister in Native Communities across the United States and Canada,
- The development of inculturated liturgy and theology.
In 1994 the Lakota Inculturation Task Force was formed to begin dialogue concerning the inculturation of the Catholic Liturgy and theology. The group was comprised of Native traditional leaders, Native deacons, professors and Catholic priests. This task was initiated in response to a letter by Cardinal Arinze requesting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to begin a serious dialogue on these matters and also in response to the Bishop’s Ad Hoc Committee for Native American Catholics. This was the first place in the United States where this work was engaged in a systematic fashion. The work is on-going and the 1999 document “Recommendations for Inculturation of Lakota Catholicism” produced by the task force is being revisited to provide continuing education and follow-up to those actively working in Native Ministry.
As a result of inculturation and the concerted efforts of Native people, priests and Native deacons, an indigenous retreat was developed named Canku Wakan (Holy Road). This is a four day spiritual journey utilizing an inculturated form of prayer inclusive of Lakota and Catholic rituals, traditions and ceremonies designed to bring participants to a closer relationship with Tunkasila (God the Father). During this prayer experience, Native Catholic leaders give presentations and share personal testimonies of faith.
A sweat lodge ceremony (Inipi ceremony) and morning prayer with the sacred pipe, sweet grass and sage blessings, the Eucharist, talking circle and a healing service are some of the common prayer forms associated with this retreat. Participants come away validated in their faith expression and filled with Woniya Wakan (the Holy Spirit).
Basic Directions Institute
The Sioux Spiritual Center sponsors the Basic Directions Institute to prepare ministers who will be working in Native Communities or with Native people for the first time. This is the only place in the United States that this type of formation is offered. The institute involves a six day program of education and training. The institute is endorsed by the National Tekakwitha Conference.
Ministry Formation Program
This program provides study, training and support to indigenous people for them to be parish ministers in the diocese. The training program uses the text book, “Builders of the New Earth.” Group learning, discussion and practical application are used as the format of study. This is also the prerequisite for those desiring to serve the church through the permanent diaconate.
Fostering Native Youth Leadership
To develop and host a retreat geared toward the formation of Native youth leaders. The program will train and offer tools and skills for Native youth to become leaders in the tribal communities or parishes. The Program has three goals:
- To develop Native youth leaders,
- To build self esteem, confidence and respect in Native youth,
- To enhance the cultural awareness of Lakota youth.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha
The Diocese of Rapid City will be hosting the 2017 National Tekakwitha Conference.
Let us gather and honor the first Native American Saint, and make this conference a time of spiritual renewal and healing for Native People.
Let us pray through the intercession of St. Kateri for a successful conference and that all participants will be abundantly blessed.