Last Tuesday evening, Confirmation candidates and sponsors gathered from Pagosa Springs, Cortez, Mancos, Bayfield and Ignacio to joyfully celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
The remarkable community of St Ignatius parish, where the event occurred, pre-dates to the arrival of Franciscan missionaries in 1776. They discovered a beautiful meadow, rich with gramma grass, and named it according to that very feast day as “La Vega de San Cayetano” (the Meadow of St Cajetan). The mission community that grew from this became Ignacio, named for Chief Ignacio of the Southern Ute tribe around the 1890’s, when the reservation came into being. A little church, St. Ignatius of Loyola, was built as a mission of St Columba parish in Durango. In 1906 they became a canonical parish, providentially under the intercession of their patron, St Cajetan. St Ignatius parish is now situated as a small, warm, inclusive community of Hispanos, Southern Utes, and Anglos, a fine example of Catholic diversity in the heart of Ignacio, Colorado.
"St Ignatius parish is now situated as a small, warm, inclusive community of Hispanos, Southern Utes, and Anglos, a fine example of Catholic diversity in the heart of Ignacio, Colorado."
The appreciation of Native American Catholic culture is very much alive. Parishioners were instrumental in promoting the devotion and cause to sainthood of St Kateri Tekawitha, participating in her beatification in 1980 and canonization in Rome in 2012. Of interest now is the cause of Nicholas Black Elk, a Catholic missionary disciple of the Oglala Sioux from the early 20th century Black Hills of South Dakota. Pope Francis declared Nicholas a Servant of God in 2016. Both St Kateri and Nicholas Black Elk are honored with beautiful portraits, complemented with carefully chosen symbols of the three cultures located within the church.
Each month a Native American Catholic Mass is held at St Ignatius, appropriately incorporating traditional native symbols and songs into the Catholic Christ-centered liturgy. Fr Cesar Arras, CR Theatine, a native of El Paso and administrator of St Ignatius for the past two years, is working with parishioners, some active in the Southern Ute elder leadership, to strengthen the relationship with the neighboring Ute Mountain Ute people, located near Cortez. Visitors come from the dioceses of Gallup, Las Cruces, Santa Fe and El Paso, as well as Pueblo, to visit the chapel, venerate the relics of Sts Ignatius and Kateri, and to pray. The missionary spirit is alive in Ignacio!
" Each month a Native American Catholic Mass is held at St Ignatius, appropriately incorporating traditional native symbols and songs into the Catholic Christ-centered liturgy."
In small missions and meadows all across our diocese, the Holy Spirit watches and waits. Springs of living water burst through the desert and the face of the earth is constantly renewed! After almost 250 years of history, our diocese is a changing story of many, many stories. Turn to Jesus in this season of Resurrection and be renewed in yours!
Check your parish Confirmation schedule. We are on the trail: If we haven’t already seen you, we will soon be in a parish nearby. Bring your families, come, pray, and celebrate the work of our Church, our candidates, our Confirmations, our past and our future. Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg
Bishop of Pueblo