Sister pleased native culture allowed in liturgy

October 31, 2011

Ursuline Sister Josephine Aloralrea recalls what she considers one of Catholicism's finer hours.

It happened in Juneau, Alaska, in 2009.

Catholics were welcoming newly assigned Juneau Bishop Edward Burns at a prayer service.

A group of indigenous Alaskans stepped forward, wearing furs, skins and colourful beads.

The people spoke to the new bishop in native languages and performed a sacred dance.

"Those were three things that had been suppressed by the government and the Church: native dress, language and dancing," says Sister Josephine, a member of the Cup'ik tribe on the Bering Sea coast.

"To see them accepted now was deeply empowering."

Liturgical leaders from around the U.S. came to Portland, Ore., Oct. 10-14 for a meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.