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Ben & Jen Black Bear participate in listening session

Please read below what our fellow St. Francis Mission employees reported back to us on their recent adventures:


"Ben and I were invited by Fr. Henry Sands, Executive Director of Black and Indian Missions and the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) Subcommittee on Native American Affairs to a Conference that was held in Phoenix, AZ on March 26-27, 2019. It was a Listening Session for the purpose of engaging in dialogue about issues that are of  importance to Native American Catholics. 


We were invited to make two-5 minute presentations on issues that we believe are important to Native American Catholics. Ben did his presentations on Poverty and Youth Ministry.  I did my presentation on Racism, effects of the boarding school and Evangelization. We picked the issues that we thought were very important and affected our tribe. This was a historical event because this was the first time Native American Catholics had the opportunity to speak with a group of U.S. Catholic bishops about matters that are important to them and their tribes. 


There were 13 Native American presenters from different tribes including Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes of South Dakota, the Alaska Native Yup'ik Eskimo from the Western Alaskan village of Emmonak, the Blackfeet Nation and Leech lake band of Ojibiwe in Minnesota, the Mohawk tribe from New York and Michigan, Ipai-Kumeyaay of the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians of California, the Lummi tribe of Washington, Koyukon Athabaskans of the Louden Tribe of Galena, Alaska, the Isleta Pueblo Tribe of New Mexico, the Ojibiway, Ottawa and Potawatami know together as the Anishnaabe of Michigan and the Cherokee tribe of Oklahoma. There were eight Bishops from different states, 2 from the state of Arizona who hosted the event and Bishop Robert Gruss from West River Diocese here in South Dakota. The other Bishops represented the states of Oregon, Michigan, Alaska, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. There were representatives from the Knights of Columbus, including Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. 


It was a great honor for both Ben and I to be invited to this historical event. We gave a small gift of a post card of our church and a beaded key chain to all present, and earrings for the females. The people were amazed by our church and it was mentioned that  St. Charles Borromeo Church would possibly become a Basilica. We are honored, and feel blessed that the church we grew up attending can be shared with everyone in attendance. We will be praying that this will happen.


We are hoping the outcome of the listening session will enlighten the USCCB and help them to understand the hardships that  Native American people have endured and create better communication and a stronger relationship between Native American Catholics and the Catholic Church. We want to thank Fr. Henry Sands for his support and for this great opportunity."


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