Native Americans from across the Diocese of Gallup gathered at Sacred Heart Retreat Center, Gallup, on Saturday, November 19, for a Native American Ministry Inservice Day, coordinated by Fr. Dale Jamison, OFM, Director of Native American Ministry for the Diocese.
Titled “Formation Day on the Family and Mercy,” the day began with Clara Kinsel of St. Mary Mission, Tohatchi, offering a prayer in Navajo, blessing the presenters, Fr. Dale, and those in attendance with cedar smoke. After a brief introduction by Fr. Dale, Mike Phelan, Director of Marriage and Respect Life for the Diocese of Phoenix, gave the first conference on “The Fire of Love Begins in God – and Spreads First through the Family Hearth.” Married for 20 years, he spoke from practical experience, noting, “One thing I’ve learned having five sons,” – and one daughter – “is never to get attached to any piece of furniture.”
Phelan explained the four types of love described by the author C.S. Lewis, using their Greek terms. He noted how all four – translated as familial affection or empathy, the bond of friendship, sexual love, and the unconditional “God” love – have characteristics of being free, total, faithful, and fruitful. He illustrated, drawing graphics on a white board, how eros (sexual love) is the only type which requires the commitment of marriage. And, only within that committed relationship, is the act of love which allows for procreation and bonding permissible.
Fr. Ignatius Mazanowski, a Franciscan of the Holy Spirit, serving in the Diocese of Phoenix, next gave a presentation on “Mercy and Forgiveness – The Means to Healing within the Family”. He cited how, when forgiveness is not offered from the heart – whether to a spouse, children, or others – it can lead to other problems, such as depression.
Mass was offered in the Sacred Heart Retreat chapel, where Br. Maynard Shurley, OFM, offered the blessing of the four directions prior to the opening hymn. Music was provided by Sr. Patricia Bietsch, OSF, and Fr. Dale presided, with Fr. Ignatius concelebrating.
A delightful lunch was followed by two more sessions, with Mike Phelan speaking on “Equipping the Family to be a Strong Center of Mercy: Marriage Preparation and Family Formation,” and Fr. Ignatius offering a “Healing of the Heart Meditation.”
At the end of the inservice, those present went away with much to contemplate, and ideas how to deepen their marital and family relationships.