Praying with Kateri in Louisiana

Saint Kateri Embraces the Wetlands

posted August 14, 2015 

On July 22nd, twenty members of Red Cloud Indian School’s parish, who are members of the Pine Ridge Reservation Kateri Circle, journeyed to Alexandria, Louisiana to attend the 76th Annual Tekakwitha Conference. Among them were Fr. George Winzenburg, president of Red Cloud Indian School (RCIS), Veronica Valandra, pastoral coordinator and Fr. Peter Etzel, director of the Sioux Spiritual Center. Shared here is Veronica’s account of the engaging and prayerful experience:

The 76th annual national Tekakwitha Conference was held on July 22-26, 2015 in Alexandria, LA with the theme “Saint Kateri Embraces the Wetlands.” The conference was hosted by the Kateri Circles from Region 4 which includes the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. The conference was held in the Diocese of Alexandria under the leadership of Bishop Ronald Herzog, D.D. 

Attending from the Pine Ridge Reservation Kateri Circles were 20 memebers from the Churches of Sacred Heart in Pine Ridge, Our Lady of the Sioux in Oglala, and Our Lady of Sorrows Kyle. From the Rapid City area there were four people who attended and seven from the Yankton reservation in eastern South Dakota. South Dakota was well represented. 

Traditionally each day of the conference begins with Sunrise services at 6:00am at the local hotels where participants are staying. Morning prayer is offered at 8:30am at the Convention center followed by workshops throughout the day. A grand entry of all Kateri Circles is held on Thursday morning and each Kateri Circle recognized. Each day is filled with workshops for adults and the youth who attend. Liturgy is offered each day with one of the Bishops presiding. Wonderful meals were provided each day with snacks during breaks which included popcorn—which seemed to be a big treat for everyone this year.

On Friday evening a pow wow was held at the convention center. Keynote speakers are scheduled for each day and this year included Most Rev. Shelton Fabre, Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, LA, Most Rev. Sam G. Jacobs, D.D., and Sister Judith Gomila. On Saturday evening following the traditional meal, a band played for the dancing entertainment of all participants and necklaces were given to all dancers to wear—somewhat in the New Orleans Mardi Gras fashion. 

By unanimous acclamation, Veronica Valandra was nominated to be a board member representing Region 3 to the national Board of Directors of the Tekakwitha Conference. Red Cloud Indian School was also regonzied by the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions with the Katharine Drexel Evangeliztion Award. Everyone who attended this year’s conference were very pleased with all aspects of the conference and are looking forward to next year’s conference. 

Next year’s conference will be held in San Mateo County, California. To learn more about Red Cloud’s pastoral ministry program and the celebration of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, contact Veronica Valandra, pastoral coordinator at Red Cloud Indian School.


Who was Saint Kateri Tekakwitha?


Spiritual Formation Department Supports
Student Identity and Success


Sophomores Plan for their Future
During Annual Spiritual Formation Retreat