Skip to main content

A New Way to Meet at Kateri Northwest Ministry Institute

August 28, 2020

Kateri Northwest Ministry Institute

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Fresh from the Kateri Northwest Ministry Institute Board meeting of August 14, 2020, I am happy to be in touch with all of you again after so long. Fr. Pat Twohy, S.J., Director of the Work for the Rocky Mountain Mission had invited all of us to gather in Spokane for an April retreat together, but the virus prevented that. None of us imagined it would have to be rescheduled for a year later, but here we are. We can only hope to have some normalcy by December, especially for Christmas.

The Board meeting was a ZOOM meeting. Jen Edgren set it up so that we could see and talk to each other on our computers. I think everyone appreciated that we didn't have to travel for two days to have a two-hour board meeting. The main topic of the meeting was how to proceed with our gatherings this year, September 2020 to April 2021. The Board decided that we should attempt to have “virtual” gatherings. I think everyone is familiar with the practice that has become so common these last five months. Even TV talk shows are broadcast from the homes of the hosts with their images gathered on one screen. I really thought that the challenges of getting everyone “connected” would be too much, so I was assuming we would suspend our gatherings at least until January. But Jen demonstrated how possible it was to get everyone together and connected. The Board directed that we contact each participant and any others who might want to join us in this new format. Since we won’t have travel, lodging and food expenses, we can provide the internet, a device (tablet or laptop) and the ZOOM program to any participant who needs them. For the time being, the Institute is going virtual.

Our first virtual gathering will be Saturday, September 26, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time, and 10:00 a.m. Mountain Time. Maureen Foley-Bensen will continue her course on the Book of Exodus for the two morning hours. We will break for lunch, and those who wish can return for a final hour with myself. I would like to finish our study of the book Nicholas Black Elk, Medicine Man, Missionary and Mystic. Once we have completed that, we will take up a book written by Fr. Max Oliva, S.J., God of Many Loves. One reviewer wrote: “As he guides us on this enriching journey of remembrance and discovery, Fr. Max encourages us to remember all the ways God has been present throughout our lives and to discover God’s love anew.”

The Board also welcomed a new member, Jama Van Brunt, Colville from Nespelem, Washington. Jama is a gifted educator and brings a lot of imagination and can-do spirit to the Board. We all had a moment of remembrance for two companions and Board members who died recently — Jerome Main of Hays, Montana, and Shirley Gobert of Browning, Montana.

Charlotte Kelley and Gordo Horn remember them in our newsletter, but I want to express my deep sadness at losing them, both unexpectedly. My heart goes out to their families, especially with it so difficult to grieve together and support each other. They were both remarkable, vibrant, loving, dedicated people.

I have had to be pushed out of my comfort zone to undertake this new adventure with our Kateri gatherings. I hope you and many others will take this opportunity to gather, share conversation, study and pray together in a time that has been so isolating. We are all more vulnerable to negative influences in isolation, so please take this opportunity to gift us with your presence once a month. We will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

May Saint Kateri protect us,
— Fr. Mike Fitzpatrick, S.J.

photo captions:
Article photo - Fr. Mike with participants of the Spokane group: (l to r) Dorothy McDonald, Rose Hoptowit, Gloria Greene, Jama Van Brunt, Fr. Mike, Vera Schaaf
2 - Jama Van Brunt taking notes with Fr. Mike and Marie Poirier from the Spokane group
3 - Maureen Foley-Bensen enjoying the Christmas gift exchange with the participants at St. Ignatius
4 - Maureen teaching a scripture class to the St. Ignatius group: (clockwise from left) Maureen, Sharon Mitchell, Betty White, Ernie Ducheneaux, Sr. Margaret Hillary, O.P., Tammie Miller, Linnea Gariepy, Marcella Adolph, Patricia Baker-Benally
5 - The Great Falls group: (back row standing, l to r) Kyrese Black Elk, Norman Bell, Rita Horn, Thomas "Bear" Grant, Jerome Main; (front row sitting, l to r) Gordo Horn, Charlotte Kelley, Bonnie Lankford, Nellie Main
6 - Gordo Horn and Bear Grant playing music - Great Falls
7 - Linnea Gariepy reading a scripture passage with Tammie Miller and Betty White listening -- St. Ignatius
8 - Maureen Foley-Bensen teaching scripture to the Spokane group
9 - Harvey and Gail Wallace listen intently - Spokane group
10 - Betty White, Marcella Adolph, Sharon Mitchell, and Patricia Baker-Benally - St. Ignatius group
11 - A scripture class at St. Ignatius
12 - A scripture class in Spokane
13 - Gordo Horn and Jerome Main in discussion at Great Falls
14 - Frieda Hunter from the Spokane group contemplating the text
15 - Bonnie Lankford from the Great Falls group proclaiming the Word
16 - The Spokane group getting ready for their next session
17 - Charlotte Kelley, Bonnie Lankford, and Gordo Horn - Great Falls group
18 - Maureen Foley-Bensen and Cherrie Druffel -- Spokane group
19 - Maria Trevino preparing a meal for the Spokane group
20 - Jama Van Brunt and Barnetta Bindewald -- Spokane group