Father Chris Collins, SJ, vice president for mission at the University of St. Thomas, celebrated at the 84th annual Tekakwitha Conference that was held July 19-22, 2023. The conference, which saw nearly 500 attendees, is a gathering of primarily Native Catholics from around the U.S. and Canada and is hosted at a different location each year.
This year’s theme was “Gathering for Healing through Living Waters” and featured keynote speakers on the topics of Boarding Schools and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The conference also included a Cultural Day event that was held at St. Thomas.
The day was organized by the Tekakwitha local planning committee along with Collins. An important part each conference is the opportunity for people to learn about local Native culture. The day at St. Thomas included speakers Kaagegaabaw, James Vukelich, who spoke about the Ojibwe Seven Grandfather Teachings, and Dana Thompson, co-owner of The Sioux Chef, who presented on the importance of a pre-contact Indigenous diet.
The day ended with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Hebda, who was presented with a star quilt. Blankets are used to honor people and are a symbol of the prayers, love and support that the Native Community has for the honoree.