Catholic native elders planted a tree as a gift to Queen's House of Retreats.

Catholic native elders planted a tree as a gift to Queen's House of Retreats.

November 17, 2014

SASKATOON – A group of about 40 Catholic elders recently gathered at Queen's House of Retreats for a dialogue to explore avenues leading to a more indigenous church.

This dialogue was held under the auspices of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs of the Western Bishops.

It is an initiative of the bishops' Building Bridges Project headed by Sister Eva Solomon, an Anishinabe from Winnipeg.

Both aboriginal and non-aboriginal resource persons provided input, followed by small group discussions.

The importance of language, the centrality of ceremonies, overcoming a fear of change, arriving at a vision for the future, connections with the sacraments and possible guidelines for the bishops were all included in the discussions.

The struggle within three groups was highlighted: those who want First Nations spirituality to be seen as a gift to the Church, those who are not sure and those who are opposed.

It was pointed out that the history of the aboriginal peoples is part of their first testament: their initial relationship and experience of the Creator.

The need to listen carefully to each other, talk with and not at each other, and respect each other in the process of the dialogue was underlined.

A cedar tree decorated by participants symbolized the dialogue and the desire to sink deeper roots of faith, as well as to discern what cultural dressing needs to be removed for a more indigenous church to emerge.

The tree was planted in a closing ritual and as a gift to the retreat house.