CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY Daily Feed
Here is the Last Supper painting referenced in Dave Myers's column, in which he tells of the historian Josephus, and how he mentions the fact that Jesus and the Apostles had a pet dog named Winston. Though not mentioned in Scripture, if you squint your eyes and look very carefully, you can see a dog depicted under the table in Da Vinci's Last Supper (above).
May 20, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Track meet; Beloved Sinners; Benjamin Martin retires; Smiles; Future of Fortune Telling; Hoisington mission; DofI; Getting Equipped; Spring Social; First Communion; Confirmation
May 6, 2018
KEYWORDS, PHRASES: Archbishop Romero; Seeing, Touching, Tasting; Exhortation; Father Patrick Conroy; Happy Mother's Day; A child on your doorstep; Vibrant Ministries Grant; From the heart of a young father; Love Gives Life; Roman Holiday; Smartphone; retirement
Slavery still going strong in the world, and U.S. tops the list
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
The facts are alarming—more than 60,000 people currently are living in slavery in the United States, the majority of whom are women and girls.
Half of those are minors.
Those facts should leave any parent desperately analyzing what they can do to better protect their children, because once they are trafficked, a very small percentage are rescued.
Cimarron resident Marca Deimund was left equally astounded after a presentation she heard back in 2011.
“Trafficking gangs were going into Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and bringing people down to Texas to be sold,” she told an audience at the Dodge City Public Library Nov. 14.
“This is the center of the United States! It’s not supposed to happen here! The more I learned about it, the more I learned it happens everywhere.”
She shared the vast amount of knowledge she’s learned on the subject since that initial presentation in a program entitled “Human Trafficking: Closer Than You Think,” cosponsored by the Dodge City Public Library and West Hopewell Community FCE.
“There’s actually a loop for human trafficking in the Midwest that starts in Chicago and goes down to St. Louis, comes over to Kansas City, Wichita, Dallas, Houston, and then back up again where these traffickers move the children around and around to different cities,” she said. “I-70 and I-35 are heavily used in moving trafficking victims. Kansas provides the perfect hub for traffickers.”
There are two primary types of human trafficking: sex and labor. Sex trafficking includes the recruitment and harboring of a person for the purpose of providing commercial sexual acts.
“The average age of a sex trafficking victim is 12 to 14 years old,” Deimund said.
She shocked the audience when she noted that “in one case, a six-month-old infant was rescued from sex traffickers.
“The average life span of someone being trafficked is seven years.” In other words, if recruited at 13, the victim will likely be dead by 20, either murdered, or dead from drugs or suicide, Deimund said.
“The United States is the number one destination for a ‘sex vacation,’” she said. “Atlanta is the number one destination for child sex tourism in the United States.” Along the highway you will often see signs for massage parlors. Many include prostitution.
The other kind human of trafficking is labor trafficking, in which a person is forced—through physical intimidation, fraud, or coercion—to perform physical labor.
This includes, in many countries, serving as soldiers or slaves.
Several years ago a young man living in southwest Kansas told the then-Register that at 16, he was snatched from his family by the Burmese military to serve as a “porter,” which, in Burmese terms, is just a breath away from a death sentence.
“If you work late at night, or if you are traveling at night, they will take you,” he said. “When you work as a porter, you have to do everything they tell you. You are like an animal. Everything they say, you have to do whether you like it or not.”
The military makes a practice of kidnapping mostly male villagers, including children, to carry their packs across roads laden with land mines and to act as shields when coming across rebel fighters -- often times their own people.
“Snatching” a young child from a grocery store or parking lot, for example, occurs right here in the United States. And some areas are far more at risk than others. In places such as Garden City and Dodge City, she said people have been urged to watch their youngsters every second while in a public setting.
“Every 30 seconds someone becomes a human trafficking victim,” Deimund said.
Most of these sad journeys begin with a conversation at a vulnerable moment.
“That’s all it takes to become a victim of human trafficking. Teenagers are at great risk because of the internet: Facebook, Instagram, Snap chat, etc…. It’s easy to pretend you are a 17-year-old boy when you are a 50-year-old balding sexual predator or sex trafficking recruiter or a grandmother looking to add girls to your gang’s inventory.
“Sexting on web cams or cameras where young girls or boys are ‘coaxed’ into posing for pictures makes them vulnerable to being blackmailed into becoming a sex trafficking victim. It’s hard for kids to comprehend how dangerous the world is. They are very knowledgeable about computers and the internet, but not at all about other people who are online.
“They think they are smarter than the traffickers. They are not.”
One girl she spoke of was attending high school and living with her parents, who had no idea that their daughter was being forced into prostitution in her off hours.
Human trafficking—labor or sex—can happen at truck stops, hotels, at restaurants, bars, farms, and beef packing houses, and even nail salons.
Most prostitutes, Deimund said, are victims of trafficking and do not want to be living that lifestyle.
While 83 percent of trafficking victims in the United States are U.S. citizens, others are coerced from overseas.
“After a natural disaster, traffickers will approach families and tell them that they will bring their child to the United States and give them shelter and education,” Deimund said.
Other families are simply fighting extreme poverty when someone offers an opportunity to help one of their children.
“Some families are desperate enough to do that. Poverty and a lack of education are huge detriments.”
In September, a Wichita man was arrested on a count of human trafficking. Another Wichita man recently was given a 187-month prison sentence for sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl. In August, a Garden City man was arrested on trafficking charges.
Deimund told those gathered that if you come across someone you think is a trafficking victim, don’t be tempted to try to rescue her or him.
“Do not try to intervene. Remember, one victim may be ‘sold’ several times a night.” Over time, she may be bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars. The trafficker will not let them go quietly.
Instead, contact 911 immediately, relating exactly what you saw or experienced, or you can call the National Human Exploitation Hotline, 1-888-373-7888.
Blessed Father Rother’s sister recalls his goodness
By Charlene Scott Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
Sister Marita Rother, ASC, a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ religious order in Wichita, remembers her older brother, Father Stanley Rother, as a quiet, shy person who got along with most everyone.
In their childhood years following the Dust Bowl and Depression, the siblings learned at an early age that doing chores was part of a day’s work, along with school duties.
“We had to get up early on school days to get the milking done, separate the cream from the milk, eat breakfast, get ready for school and run to catch the school bus at the intersection three blocks away,” she said.
And more chores awaited the children when they arrived home from school.
“We had a large farm and raised cattle, pigs and chickens wheat, milo, alfalfa and a big garden in the summer.”
Father Stan was 14 months older than his sister; a brother, Jim, was born after Sister Marita, followed by Caroline (who died shortly after birth), and Tom, born three years later. Jim passed away at age 36 from leukemia.
Family life was important, she said.
“We had many extended family members within just a few miles of our home—both sets of grandparents lived within a mile in different directions, and many of our parents’ siblings lived within only a few miles. We knew our cousins very well, because we also went to school together.”
The parish priest, who had grown up on a farm not far from Okarche, often spent time with the different families of his parish and helped them with the harvest by driving the tractor or hauling wheat.
“He liked to be with the families, and they always like to have him come out, even if it was just to have dinner. I believe this may have encouraged some boys to consider being a priest. Perhaps Stanley received his call in that way.”
In the early summer of 1953—after the future priest graduated from high school and his sister completed her junior year—both of them notified their parents about their desires to serve the Church and God’s people.
“I told my mother on Mother’s Day that I wanted to join the convent the next school year,” Sister Marita said. “Of course she was surprised, but very supportive. My mother had two sisters who were Adorers of the Blood of Christ, the only community I really knew. Stanley told them not too long after that he wanted to go to the seminary.”
Sister Marita is one of approximately 200 Sister Adorers in the United states and 2,000 worldwide. She taught for many years and served in administration positions. She was Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Dodge City diocese from 1987-90, after which she became principal of Sacred Heart Cathedral School from 1989-91.
“I very much enjoyed serving in the Dodge City area,” she said. “I worked with, and met some very fine people.”
Her brother Stan, meanwhile, had entered the seminary, and after his ordination as a priest for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, served in several small parishes in Oklahoma. When the archdiocese had an opening in their mission in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, Father Stanley volunteered.
“I visited Stan in Guatemala during the summers of 1973 and 1978,” Sister Marita said. “I had never seen such poverty as I saw there. They had no running water—only that which they carried up from the lake where they washed their clothes and fished. Many children died of malnutrition until the missionaries opened a center where mothers could bring their children to feed them at least one nutritious meal a day. This is where I worked every morning my first summer. I saw many children improve in the six weeks I was there.
“I gained a deep appreciation of Stan in having the privilege of seeing him interact and work with the poor,” she added. “He felt so at home with the Tzutujil Indians. He took the time to learn their language, which had never been written before the Oklahoma missionaries began serving there. Eventually, he began celebrating Mass in their language, preaching and teaching them, which no priest had done before.
“They claimed him as their own. He loved the people and they knew it. They became his family. He taught them farming methods, and set up a weaving co-op to give them jobs and some income.”
By 1979 the presence of the army became more constant in Santiago Atitlan. Young men and catechists were disappearing; some were found tortured or mutilated along the roadside. By early 1981, Father Stan’s name was placed on the death-list.
At the request of his archbishop, Father Stan had to leave his Guatemala parish that he loved and return to Oklahoma.
During his time away from his people, he worried about them, prayed for them, and longed to be with them.
“’A shepherd does not run at the first sign of danger,’ he said. So, after a couple of months, he returned to Guatemala in time for Holy Week,” Sister Marita explained. “Though his name was down on the list, he kept a low profile. However, on July 28, three masked men broke into his rectory and forced a young man to take them to ‘his hiding place’. There they shot and killed him.
“Both of our parents were still alive when he was murdered,” Sister Marita said. “It was very painful for them, as you can imagine.
“Though Stan’s people wanted to keep his body in Santiago Atitlan, they agreed to keep his heart, and his body was returned to Oklahoma for burial. His heart is enshrined at the entrance of their Church.”
Sadly—and yet a remarkable commentary on the beloved priest—more than 3,000 people had to be turned away when the large convention center in Oklahoma City where his beatification was held was filled to capacity.
At National Catholic Youth Conference, 20,000 teens told they are
‘Beloved children of God, called by name’
Some 270 9th-12th graders and adult sponsors from the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City joined 20,000 youth from across the United States for the Nov. 16-18 National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis.
After a few hours of raucous celebration with the music of Christian hip-hop band TobyMac, the massive crowd melted into silence as Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson greeted all those gathered.
He told the youth that although they represent many states and dioceses, “we are first and foremost children of God. And that God who knows us, desires to be known by us. … God wanted us to know him ... through a personal relationship with a human being, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“We are beloved children of God, called by name, claimed by Christ,” he said. “We begin this NCYC weekend by embracing that reality of who we are.”
Chris Stefanick, an internationally acclaimed author, speaker and founder of Real Life Catholic, said that we often forget the “love story” that is at the base of the Catholic faith.
“When you remove the love story, what are you left with?” he asked. “Rules that we have to follow. Rituals that we’re not sure why we keep them alive but they take a lot of time. Doctrines that have nothing to do with your life. That’s how the world has come to see Catholicism. … The world has forgotten the love story, and so often we’ve forgotten the love story.”
That story, he said, “begins very simply with the words ‘(I) believe in one God.’”
Not believing in God, he said, is like “a flea not believing in the dog. ... The universe did not put itself here, and the more we learn about the universe, the more it shouts to us about the existence of God....
“We feel so small in this world,” continued. “We feel so insignificant in this universe.
“I think God looks down from heaven and says, ‘You are huge next to all this.’ As big as a mountain is, can it know someone? As big as an ocean is, can it make a choice? As big as a galaxy is, can it choose to love? No, but you can. ... You’re a huge deal!”
Among those attending the event from the Diocese of Dodge City was Adam Urban, Director of Youth Ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, who served as delegate leader, and Carleigh Albers, youth and young adult ministry intern.
“My favorite part of the conference was probably adoration and night prayer with the monks from St. Meinrad,” Albers said. “I also really enjoyed spending time with the kids from St. Dominic’s and getting to know them better.
“The young church is alive and is yearning for a deeper relationship with their Creator,” she added. “Jesus is not somewhere in a foreign land, but rather He is here and fully present—we just need to do what Pope Francis has told us which is to ‘ask Jesus what He wants from you and be brave’.”
— Natalie Hoefer, a reporter at The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, contributed to this article.
Kansas man creates ‘A Slice of Time’
Dani Sandoval captures hands and heart of Mexican Village
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
They came to Kansas, their hearts clinging to prayers for a better life—some coming alone, some with a young family—promises of a job with the Santa Fe Railroad adding to the fervent hope that their prayers might be fulfilled.
Such was the response to jobs offered by the Santa Fe Railroad that the company donated a 450 by 500 square-foot plot, which became the land on which the influx of Mexican and Hispanic American workers built their homes.
The area, just southeast of Dodge City, became known as the Mexican Village. It had its own school, church, and general store.
A sculpture now on display at Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City seeks to honor all those who worked to build and maintain the historic railroad while living in the Village. It includes two hands swinging a hammer onto a spike, held by two more hands, to pound it into a railroad tie to hold the track in place.
“The idea for the sculpture came after attending a Mexican Village reunion,” noted Wichita artist Dani Sandoval.
“I was thinking about dedicating something to our village ancestors and our railroad forefathers.”
Sandoval’s great-great-grandparents on his father’s side were ranchers from Spain, traveling across Kansas by covered wagon, settling in the “Republic of Texas”, now known as New Mexico. His grandparents on his mother’s side came from Mexico; her father was a boot-maker by trade.
“Days at the Village started very early,” Sandoval explained. “Even on weekends, you would always see a parade of men leaving their homes, answering a morning steam whistle from the railroad yard.
“The next whistle was at high noon, and everyone would stop and eat their lunch. And there was one at the end of the day. We could tell time by those whistles.
“Some of those old timers were so good at swinging that hammer; they could hit the spike all the way into the wooden tie with only two hits,” Sandoval said.
“I started to look for original railroad workers to help construct my sculpture, and the closest one to me was my Uncle Manuel. He started telling me stories that the old timers told him. I came up with the idea for the sculpture and I asked him if he wanted to be part of my sculpture piece. He said sure, yeah!”
On his back porch, the artist gently poured the molding material around his Uncle Manuel’s hands as his uncle told stories of his work on the railroad some seven decades earlier.
“His stories added fuel to my sculpture,” Sandoval said. “He said he’d been assigned to work on the ‘rip track,’ where they would repair and replace track. Just the thought of it and how many spikes were hammered from ocean to ocean. ... It was hard to wrap my mind around it. Every tie has two plates and four spikes on each plate with miles and miles of track.
“I had a piece of track and found other pieces over the years, and got this spike mull [the iron end of the hammer] donated by the K&O Railroad. I was looking for men who were from the village who also worked on the railroad to swing the hammer. I couldn’t find anyone to volunteer, so I used my hands as a representative of the spirit to all our forefathers. I wanted to make it as authentic as I could get. My hands looked really soft, so I put a glove on my left hand and cut out my fingers to make a stronger image of a worker’s hands. My uncle had worked on the railroad and his hands looked like alligator skin from working in the sun.”
If you read the story on the quilt on Page 24 of last week’s issue, then you know the man to whom the hands belong. Manuel Gonzales was the father of Nora Mode, who donated the “classroom” quilt to the Boot Hill Museum. (Nora’s mother and Sandoval’s mother are sisters.)
The quilt hangs beside Sandoval’s sculpture, which was also donated to the museum.
“I invited Nora to come and see the finished piece,” he said of his cousin. “She came after her shift at work, and I had just put it all together in my backyard at about two in the morning. We both stood there looking at it. It was dark and a single spot light was shining on it. The piece was glowing. I can’t explain the emotions we both felt.
“We looked at each other and she asked, ‘What are you going to call it?’ It’s like the hands were there but the people weren’t. It’s like a slice of time. That’s how the title came about.”
The Village was razed in the early 1950s, leaving little evidence of the multitude of lives it embraced all those years ago, making “A Slice of Time” an invaluable visual record for all those to come.
New faces at the Catholic Chancery
By DAVE MYERS
Southwest Kansas Catholic
The diocese staff at the Catholic Chancery in Dodge City has said goodbye to a handful of staff members in the last few months, and welcomed several new employees.
Ana Gaytan is the newest receptionist for the Catholic Chancery, where she assists Coleen Stein with the Spanish core courses of the Pastoral Ministry Formation program, and Father Wesley Schawe with Priestly Vocations. Gaytan most recently served as an interpreter with the Dodge City Medical Center, and is fluent in Spanish.
Gaytan was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, where her grandparents and many extended family members still reside. She came to the United States when she was six years old, and obtained her U.S. citizenship in 2015. She resides in Dodge City with her husband, Juan, and dogs Leela and Amy. She is the daughter of Maria and Samuel Rangel of Dodge City. Gaytan has three siblings, sisters Alma and Mariela, and brother Samuel.
She is a graduate of Dodge City High School.
“I love it here,” she said of the Catholic Chancery. “It’s not as serious as I thought it would be. I expected it to be very strict.”
When not at work, she enjoys crocheting and playing guitar.
Susan WrInn was hired in September to serve as Database Administrator, which she terms as, “spending the morning staring at spreadsheets, and the afternoon wrestling with the printer.”
Wrinn attended Benedictine College where she obtained a degree in art; she is currently working toward her Master’s Degree in business administration.
She is the daughter of Nancy and Lt. Col. John Wrinn (Air Force, retired) of Wichita, and has seven brothers and sisters: Chris, Brian, Andrew, Kevin, Thomas, Anna and John Paul. She is engaged to Garrit Flax of Spearville.
“I was very blessed to receive a position in a place where there is a chapel present,” Wrinn said. “That was a great surprise. It also surprised me how involved everyone is with each other’s ministries, and how we help each other and come together.”
ADAM URBAN is the Director of Youth Ministry for the diocese.
The Hays native actually started here back in late May, but after only a few weeks traveled to Boston where he began working toward a Master’s Degree in Theology and Ministry. After six weeks of study, he returned to resume his employment while continuing to work toward his Master’s Degree online.
“My main focus is initiating parish level youth ministry,” he said. “There are few parishes in the diocese with active, consistent youth ministry programs. My primary goal will be to help one or two parishes per year to establish active youth ministry.”
Urban is the son of Steve and Nancy Urban. He has one sister, Rebecca.
He had intended to enter medical school when he said he had a “reversion” to the Faith.
“I started taking part in adoration in my sophomore year of college at Fort Hays State,” where he was majoring in biology, he said. That and his involvement with the Ft. Hays Catholic youth group, Catholic Disciples, as well as with the then new Prayer and Action youth and young adult program in the Diocese of Dodge City, led him to make a major shift in plans.
“I owe my ministry to that decision to go to adoration and Catholic Disciples and ask God what He wants for my life,” Urban said.
Fortunately for the youth he serves, Urban’s hobbies include “any outdoor activity, basketball, racquet ball, mountain biking, camping….” He’s also an accomplished pianist and plays the guitar. And he likes to read. And cook.
“And eat,” he said, laughing.
He and Father Jacob Schneider are in the very early planning stages for World Youth Day 2019, which will be held in Panama in January.
Carleigh Albers is serving as Youth and Young Adult Ministry Intern for a period of one year, while also serving as Youth Minister at St. Dominic Parish in Garden City.
She comes to Southwest Kansas by way of Smolan, Kans. (10 miles south of Salina), where she was reared. She attended Fort Hays State University, where, at age 21, she converted to Catholicism.
“It was my own stubbornness” that led to her conversion, she said.
“I was in a relationship with a guy who was ‘obnoxiously’ Catholic,” she explained, laughing. “I was an agnostic and wanted to prove him wrong. I started reading a book called ‘Youcat.’” The book offers a simple yet deeply thorough examination of the Catholic faith and its beliefs.
“I was really captivated by it. It proved to me the existence of God,” and led her to join the Catholic faith.
Albers earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and has a love for journalism. In her junior year of college, she was presented the top journalism award in Kansas for her writing.
At the same time, Albers felt herself being led to ministry. Her internship with the Diocese of Dodge City includes assisting Adam Urban, Director of Youth Ministries, and Gentry Heimerman, Director of Young Adult Ministries.
Her parents are Curt and Rochelle Albers. She has one younger sister, Carrie.
‘...So my soul will reach Heaven’
Will Black Elk be canonized a saint?
By Charlene Scott Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
In August of 2016, the opened an official cause for the of Nicholas Black Elk, an Oglala Dakota American Indian chief of the twentieth century who was known as a medicine man and a holy man.
He became internationally known through the book Black Elk Speaks, in which he described the religious visions he had as a young boy.
The end of the Civil War brought long lines of covered wagons packed with light-skinned families to the Dakotas.
Black Elk and his people participated in the Custer fight on the Little Big Horn in 1876, because he, like other American Indians, resented the intrusion of white strangers who stole their Dakota lands by force. His people were in despair as they had to move and search to find a life and livelihood elsewhere.
Black Elk announced his vocation as a holy man by performing the Horse Dance in 1881, leading the dance in which Indian participants imitated the motions of horses. (This dance included four black horses to represent the west, four white horses for the north, four sorrels for the east, and four buckskins for the south. Black Elk rode a bay horse. He had seen all of the horses in a vision when he was a boy of nine.)
Black Elk also had been a leader of the Indians’ Ghost Dance in 1883. Nervous white settlers thought it was a war dance (it was a holy dance), and responded with armed troops to stop the ancient traditional tribal performance.
International fame came to Black Elk when he joined Buffalo Bill Cody and traveled in Europe with Cody’s Wild West Show in 1887, also performing in London for Queen Victoria, whom he referred to as “Grandmother England.”
When he returned to the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1889 after his adventure abroad, Black Elk was crushed to learn that large numbers of Wasichus (whites), including armed troops, were advancing daily into the Dakotas, grabbing at gunpoint the property that had been home to Indians for centuries.
This unlawful white settlement on Indian lands led Black Elk to participate in defending his people from the Dec. 29, 1890 attack of U.S. Army soldiers. More than 250 and possibly 300 Indians were killed at the Wounded Knee Massacre on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. On horseback, Black Elk was wounded by a bullet that grazed his hip as he fought in the battle.
After surviving Wounded Knee, Black Elk went on with his work as a healer and medicine man. Influenced by the Jesuits, he was baptized a Roman Catholic in 1904 and became a catechist, taking the name “Nicholas,” aka “Nick.” His first two Indian wives also became Catholics, as did their children. (His first wife had died, and he later remarried.)
Black Elk explained Lakota traditions to author Joseph Epes Brown, who in 1953 wrote the book The Sacred Pipe, in which Black Elk compared Lakota rituals to Catholic sacraments and professed his belief both in Christianity and in his people’s ancient religion.
John G. Neihardt interviewed him in 1931 and wrote the book Black Elk Speaks in 1932 and another book about him, When the Tree Flowered, in 1951.
I read Neihardt’s first book, in which he quotes Black Elk as saying: “The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.”
Michael F. Steltenkamp’s book Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala, published in 1993, portrays Black Elk “as a progressive Catholic who retains little meaningful commitment to traditional religion,” according to an article in America Magazine. “Black Elk’s Story: Distinguishing Its Lakota Purpose (1991) by Julian Rice describes Black Elk’s participation in Catholicism as “a response to oppression.”
Black Elk was born at the Little Powder River in Wyoming around Dec. 1, 1863, some historians claim. Others insist he was born May 9, 1865, the first year after the Civil War ended. He was a second cousin and close friend of the War Chief Crazy Horse (their fathers were brothers), and he had his troubles with whites encroaching onto his lands just as Crazy Horse did. (Crazy Horse was stabbed to death by a white soldier after he was taken prisoner.)
Black Elk was fortunate enough to die a natural death on August 19, 1950 at the age of 96 in , . He was buried at St. Agnes Catholic Cemetery in Manderson, South Dakota.
Black Elk did not turn his back on the Ghost Dance or other Oglala Sioux rituals after he converted to Catholicism, nor did he abandon his people. He continued to be a tribal leader in good times and bad, and even demonstrated his tribe’s traditional rituals at a Duhamel Sioux Pageant.
BLACK ELK’S LAST TESTAMENT
Holy Rosary Mission
Pine Ridge, South Dakota
January 26, 1934
I shake hands with my white friends. Listen! I will speak words of truth. I told about the people’s ways of long ago, and some of this a white man put in a book but he did not tell about current ways. Therefore I will speak again, a final speech.
Now I am an old man. I called my priest to pray for me, and so he gave me Extreme Unction and Holy Eucharist. Therefore I will tell you the truth. Listen my friends!
For the last 30 years I have lived very differently from what the white man told about me. I am a believer. The Catholic priest, Short Father, baptized me 30 years ago. From then on they have called me Nick Black Elk. Very many of the Indians know me. Now I have converted and live in the true faith of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, I say in my own Sioux Indian language “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,” as Christ taught us and instructed us to say. I say the Apostles Creed, and I believe it all.
I believe in the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church. I have now received six of these: Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Holy Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, and Extreme Unction. For very many years I went with several priests to fight for Christ among my people. For about 20 years I helped the priests, and I was a catechist in several communities. So I think I know more about the Catholic religion than many white men.
For eight years I participated in the retreat for catechists, and from this I learned a great deal about the faith. I am able to explain my faith. From my faith I know Who I believe in, so my work is not in vain.
All of my family is baptized. All my children and grandchildren belong to the Catholic Church, and I am glad of that, and I wish very much that they will always follow the holy road. I know what St. Peter has to say to those men who forsake the holy commandments. My white friends should read carefully 2 Peter 2:20-22.
I send my people on the straight road that Christ’s church has taught us about. While I live, I will never fall from faith in Christ.
Thirty years ago I knew little about the one we call God. At that time I was a very good dancer. In England I danced before our Grandmother, Queen Victoria. At that time I gave medicines to the sick. Perhaps I was proud. I considered myself brave, and I considered myself to be a good Indian, but now I think I am better.
St. Paul also became better after his conversion. I know that the Catholic religion is good, better than the Sun dance or the Ghost dance. Long ago the Indians performed such dances only for glory.
But for the sake of sin, Christ was nailed on the cross to take our sins away. The Indian religion of long ago did not benefit mankind. The medicine men sought only glory and presents from their curing. Christ commanded us to be humble, and He taught us to stop sin. The Indian medicine men did not stop sin. Now I despise sin. And I want to go straight in the righteous way that the Catholics teach us so my soul will reach heaven.
This is the way I wish it to be. With a good heart, I shake hands with all of you.
-- Nick Black Elk