Missionary Father Wojciech Wojtkowiak, O.M.I., at a faith-sharing session.
Lebret, Saskatchewan—In the past years of working with First Nations Peoples, I have often thought that the “family” approach to faith-sharing and learning is the best way.
We have proven this many times.
For the last couple of years, our pastor, Father Wojciech Wojtkowiak, O.M.I., and I have been going to St. Philip’s, near Kamsack, where people from Keeseekoose and Cote reserves gather to express their faith needs. There is no regular organized faith-sharing program during the year so people of all ages—from four days old to sixty years—gather for this event.
In the past year, the faith gathering happened in February. The initial request from the people was for sacramental preparation and the focus was on Eucharistic preparation. However, after much discussion about ourselves, our families and bands, the children's schools, and our goals, beliefs and responsibilities, we began to describe how we saw our faith community. We looked for something to bind us together: our creed, the signs, celebrations and rituals of the sacraments, our leaders.We discussed passages in Scripture that portrayed the themes of Belonging, Celebrating, Forgiveness and Loving. Parents helped their children with the Scriptures while Pat, Gladys, and Alvina, members of the “Circle of Elders” in Lebret, helped the parents and the other members of the community. Together, we became more aware of Jesus’ teachings regarding communities, families and the Church.
We spoke of the Eucharist as the basis of any Christian community. We resolved to make the Eucharist come alive by using symbols such as wheat grains, bannock, grapes, and juice, and by being together in community. In that gathering, we learned that we, the people of the Church, experience the reality of God’s presence; in turn, we become examples of His presence in our community 365 days of the year.
(Sister Bernadette Feist, O. S. U., is coordinator of the Valley Native Ministry Program in the Archdiocese of Regina and works in pastoral ministry with Oblate Father Wojciech Wojtkowiak on 13 First Nations communities in Saskatchewan.)