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"I know there are always going to be obstacles because the Devil does not want Divine Mercy," said Fr. Anthony. "He does not want people to know about Divine Mercy."

Shrine Celebrates Its First Pow Wow

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Photo: Felix Carroll

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Dancers of all ages came out sporting tribal clothing, feathers, and bells as the drummers played and sang.

By Andy Leeco (Oct 25, 2010)
Father Anthony Gramlich, MIC, saw a nor'easter was headed for the northeast United States and was encouraged.

He says he always expects obstacles when putting on Divine Mercy events, especially the first time. This was certainly the case with the first Catholic Native American Day at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy on Saturday, Oct. 16.

"We had rain, a nor'easter, and wind, and I actually see these all as good signs that God is going to do something wonderful here today," Fr. Anthony said. "I know there are always going to be obstacles because the Devil does not want Divine Mercy. He does not want people to know about Divine Mercy. He does not want the Native American people to know about Divine Mercy. But it's worth all the obstacles for the spiritual fruit that God is going to bring. We just need to plant a seed, water it, and watch it grow. "

No sooner had he said that then the sun came out and a rainbow appeared over the mountains in the distance.

"For the Native Americans, the rainbow means the connection between heaven and earth," said Fidel Moreno of Healing Winds ministry, based in nearby Lenox, Mass. Mr. Moreno was co-organizer of the pow wow.

The event kicked off with an American Indian celebration of intertribal dance and pow wow. Dancers of all ages came out sporting tribal clothing, feathers, and bells as the drummers played and sang.

"We had to come out today. How could you pass up being able to see something like this?" said Dawn Barenski , who brought her daughter, Ava. "We have come out to all the events like Encuentro Latino and Haitian Day because it's wonderful to see how other cultures celebrate God. I bring my daughter to church, but I also bring her to these events so she can see all the dancing and singing at Encuentro Latino and the Haitians throwing their hands up in the air to celebrate."

"We want to celebrate our rich Catholic faith and people's particular culture," Fr. Anthony said. "Lots of variety is great for people to experience. We are united in faith, but the expression of the faith takes many forms and the Church honors that."

The day continued with confessions, a Catholic Native American Mass, the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, and Benediction. The combination of the Catholic faith and the Native American heritage was an important part of the event.

"When Fidel and I got together we put our minds together and came up with a Native American liturgy with also a pow wow, a celebration combining the faith and culture of Native American tribes," said Fr. Anthony. "And the more I was praying about it, the more I thought about what a great opportunity it was to promote the message of Divine Mercy. The tribes have such rich traditions, rich symbols and rich beliefs and a great devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is wearing a Native American dress. We wanted to do something to combine Divine Mercy, to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe and Blessed Kateri Tekakwithal, the first blessed Native American."

Susan Jameson, co-organizer of the event, said that Eden Hill, the home of the National Shrine, was the perfect spot for the pow wow.

"The house built by John Sergeant, first missionary to the Stockbridge-area Native Americans, was built on Eden Hill. This was native land," she said.

All involved anticipate the event to be much larger next year.

"Hopefully this is the first annual. The first of many," Susan said. "I know Fr. Anthony was asking about the original people from this land. They were moved from Stockbridge. They are in Wisconsin now, but maybe with this much notice we can let them know to come back to their homeland. I'm sure they would love to participate. We went to the Kateri Shrine and they are interested also, but they need a year's notice. So next year, we expect it to get a lot of people."

This was echoed by Herman Ray, who flew out from Phoenix to represent the Blessed Kateri Tekakwithal Conference.

"Next year the event should be much bigger," he said. "The word of mouth will filter through the tribes. Not everyone has access to the Internet, but they will hear about the event and want to come next year. People save all year to go to the conference, and it takes planning. So now that they know about this event, they can plan to attend this, too."

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