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In Service to Our Native Neighbors


by Columbia staff

Order launches a new initiative to support indigenous communities in the United States and Canada

Breaking ground on the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine

Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, Father Maurice Henry Sands, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson and members of the Pueblo of Laguna, N.M., break ground on the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in Gallup, Aug. 11. Photo by Phillip Flores

Ground was broken last month on a new national shrine dedicated to St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Gallup, N.M., one of several projects to support Native American and First Nation communities announced by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson at the 137th Supreme Convention in Minneapolis.

“As many as one in four Native Americans are Catholic,” Supreme Knight Anderson said in his annual report to the convention Aug. 6. “And yet, in many ways, these brothers and sisters in the faith have been forgotten.”

Invoking the Knights’ mission of unity, he called on the Order to take a lead in showing respect for Native Americans in the United States and First Nations peoples in Canada.

The shrine to the first Native American saint will be built in partnership with the Diocese of Gallup and the Southwest Indian Foundation. In addition, the Supreme Council is identifying new ways to collaborate with the Black and Indian Mission Office in Washington, D.C., and encouraging local councils to become more involved with Catholics living on reservations and tribal lands.

Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup joined the supreme knight and Native American representatives at the blessing and groundbreaking ceremony for the shrine’s rosary walk Aug. 11.

“It is our hope that in the years to come this St. Kateri Shrine will become a national spiritual home for Native Americans and for all Catholics in North America,” the supreme knight said.

Designed by architect Erik Bootsma, a member of Father William J. Nolte Council 11533 in Richmond, Va., the shrine complex will feature a 200-foot-tall crucifix, a chapel, and a museum dedicated to St. Kateri, other Native American Catholics and saints who evangelized the Native people.


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