SACATON — Four religious sisters who have traveled the world bringing Christ’s consolation to Catholics and others in the community have made a new home in the Diocese of Phoenix.
The Consolata Missionary Sisters arrived in August and live on the Gila River Indian Reservation. Sr. Adelangela Paita and Sr. Riccardina Silvestri attend Masses at St. Ann Mission and nearby St. Anthony Mission every weekend and help with religious education. Sr. Maria Dina Puddu and Sr. Jo Marie Williams share the morning with Catholics at Holy Family and Our Lady of Victory missions.
Sr. Adelangela has had a heart for Native American ministry since her first Tekakwitha Conference 21 years ago.
“I saw the Catholic Church is doing something for the Native Americans in their own cultural experiences,” Sr. Adelangela said.
Prior to that, she learned some people of Native American descent sometimes hid their heritage out of fear. Sr. Adelangela quickly launched the world’s 91st Tekakwitha Circle.
She prayed that a future appointment as a missionary would bring her to the Southwest. Sr. Adelangela wanted to spend her life giving Native Americans the feeling that they are respected and to live with them and embrace their culture.
The Gila River Indian community wanted a religious community to help the children return to Christian ways of life. The sisters journey with the children, bake cookies, support other fundraisers for the missions and even visit homes.
“That’s a big deal because the Native Americans don’t let people into their homes,” said Regina Antone-Smith, a member of St. Anthony Mission.
The community welcomed the sisters by hosting a cultural seminar to teach them about cultural foods, traditions and mannerisms. The sisters also visit the Caring House at least weekly to say the rosary and pray with residents of the nursing facility.
“We are here trying to live the joy and consolation that only faith brings to human life,” said Sr. Adelangela, who celebrated her 55th jubilee this year.