Column: Kateri keeps Indian traditions alive
"Holy Week, which began for western Christianity on Sunday, has always found expression in a smorgasbord of ethnic groups and races. This year, the only downside may be for the Irish, real and honorary. With Easter falling next Sunday - the earliest in nearly a century - St. Patrick's Day, usually celebrated today, got officially jostled aside on the church calendar.

In Denver, native American Catholics marked Palm Sunday at the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Community in Lakewood. Nearly 100 worshippers gathered on the lawn for the liturgy's start. It was led by Gibbons, Kateri's chaplain, along with Deacon Bill Stow, a North Dakotan whose DNA includes some Kickapoo Indian.

Echoing a worldwide ritual, worshippers clutched palm branches, which scripture says were waved at Jesus as he entered Jerusalem in a hero's welcome.

Later the city turned on Jesus, crucifying him on a day commemorated as Good Friday.

To mark his procession into Jerusalem, the Kateri crowd marched into church accompanied by Indian drumbeats and songs led by Lance Allrunner, of Cheyenne, and Commanche heritage; Joe Chavarria, a Navajo; and Francis Sherwood of the Arakira and Hidatsa tribes.

"We're all followers of Jesus," Gibbons told the crowd. "He died for every one of us, but how many of us will follow him to the cross?"

One who did follow Jesus to the cross is Blessed Kateri, "Lily of the Mohawks," a 17th century convert known for her great holiness. John Paul II set her on the path to sainthood in 1980."

Get the Story:
Jean Torkelson: On Palm Sunday, Kateri keep faith, Indian ways alive (The Denver Rocky Mountain News 3/17)