Kateri Northwest Ministry Institute
I was recently asked by someone who has heard of Kateri Northwest Ministry Institute, but is unfamiliar with, and at the same time curious about what we do, “What do you do in the Kateri Program?” I explained that our director, Fr. Mike Fitzpatrick, travels to our three different teaching sites – Spokane, Great Falls, and St. Ignatius – to do lay ministry training with the Native people from around each one of those regions. Along with the accompanying scripture teacher, Maureen Foley-Bensen, Fr. Mike and the participants study scripture, social justice issues, Native and Catholic spirituality, and share their faith in liturgical prayer.
Besides bringing Native people and those working in Native ministry together in study and prayer, one of the things that impresses me that is a result of the Program is the unfolding or revealing of the ministries that the participants feel called to do as they take what they have learned back to their home parishes. Some are called to become catechists or religious education directors, some are involved in music ministry and others in the various liturgical ministries. There are those who work the Cursillos or Pilgrimages, some who teach baptismal preparation classes, and others who are called to visit and help the sick or to lead funeral services for the beloved ones in their communities. Whatever the calling is to their preferred ministries, the participants of the Kateri Program feel a special bond whenever they gather together for a weekend of fellowship in faith and camaraderie in spirit that is carried with them when they are ready to be sent forth as disciples of Christ to their home reservations or to their urban Indian communities.