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La Chee Outreach in Northwest Navajo Nation

October 27, 2022

Immaculate Heart of Mary in Page, Arizona

There is a community of about 2,700 Navajos who live three miles south of our Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Page, Arizona, in the Diocese of Gallup. Sadly, there had never been any deliberate Catholic outreach to this community for many years until 2010, when the current pastor Father Tom Maikowski, invited the School Sisters of Christ the King from Lincoln, Nebraska to initiate and assist our parishioners in this out-reach. For two weeks each of the past nine Augusts, six Sisters come to engage in this ministry. The Sisters invite and train parishioners to join them in this ministry. During the two week period, each of the Sisters, accompanied by parishioners, go door-to-door during those days to visit each occupied house in the village. The intent of the visits is to let the Navajo people know that the Catholic Church cares about them, to invite the Navajo people to consider attending IHM Church, and also for their children to attend a daily catechetical session, followed by a supper, that the sisters and parishioners provide, in a tent that is rented to be set up in the Navajo village. On the Saturdays that the sisters are in the parish, they also conduct an all-day catechetical program which includes Mass. That evening, a Navajo taco supper is provided for the students and their families, as well as any other residents of the village. 100 or more Navajo people from this area of the Navajo Nation attend the supper. From what has been observed these past summers, on an average, ten Native American families begin to attend IHM Church following the visits of the sisters.

The BIMO grant assists IHM parish with funding to support the annual ministry of the Congregations of Religious Sisters who come to serve in this Le Chee Evangelization. During the height of the pandemic, in 2020, this outreach still occurred, with door-to-door evangelization. The religious materials, welcome pamphlets and articles were all given out in safe packaging. The classes and eating were held outside, all spaced in due pandemic protocol. We are grateful to God, that all went well, then and that the camp has resumed in its previous joy this past summer in 2022. This year the Sister Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus served with joy. The parish thanks them and Black and Indian Mission for aiding with funding to sponsor this summer religious program and evangelization outreach.