SEAS women seize the summer
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One of the donors of the SEAS women’s trip to the reservation was Promise Bound Ministries. Promise Bound is hosting its 4th Annual RJ and Sam Peck Memorial Golf Tournament Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Tex Consolver Golf Course in Wichita. For more information, visit iampromisebound.com.
Summer school was special for students of the Saint Anthony Indian Mission Catholic School on the Zuni Indian Reservation near Gallup, New Mexico.
In the wake of a pandemic postponement, a group of 13 women from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Wichita traveled June 20-26 to teach art and science and host a morning music camp.
Mary Rohleder, a trip organizer, said their pastor, Fr. Sherman Orr, suggested a few years ago that adult women might want to go on a mission trip.
After making some inquiries, it was recommended the women contact Fr. Patrick McGuire, a priest from Scotland who serves at the Zuni reservation. Rohleder said she also talked to Sr. Marsha Moon, the principal of the school with an enrollment of nearly 200 Catholic and non-Catholic students.
Little exposure to music education
Sr. Marsha told Rohleder the students have very little opportunity for music or fine arts education. “We are trying to start a program where someone comes in and teaches Zuni arts and pottery, but that’s about all we have,” the sister told her. “And the only music we have is me playing the piano or the guitar for the kids during Mass or for fun.”
Karen Peck, an art teacher at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Wichita, was one of the first a couple of years ago to say yes to the mission trip. “She said she would be able to take what she does for her summer art camp and apply it to the kids in Zuni,” Rohleder said. “I had 15 ladies signed up and ready to go – then Covid happened.”
The mission was put on hold until this summer when the baker’s dozen traveled to the reservation to teach art, science, physical education, and music – and feed the youth.
Students watch the Nutcracker
“Another friend, Beatriz Balza, is a flutist. She played the flute for the kids. They had never heard classical music. We played Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. She played the flute accompaniment while they watched a ballerina dancing to the Nutcracker. The children’s jaws just opened wide. They had never seen a ballerina.”
Rohleder said the students peppered them with questions about her costume, her shoes, and her ability to dance on her toes. “They’re not exposed to that in their culture,” she said.
The Zuni children also learned about and listened to music from around the world – including watching Scottish bagpipers from Scotland, a nod to their pastor. The youth played instruments borrowed from the diocesan Ministry With Persons With Disabilities.
“They’re incredibly artistic people. It was an absolute joy and very fulfilling to teach them,” Rohleder said.
The children were fed daily lunch prepared by the ladies and on Friday, June 24, the parents joined their children for a community meal during which their artwork was displayed.
During their visit assisted the women the Missionaries of Charities, Mother Teresa’s order, in Gallup, about 30 minutes away.
“We fed people at their soup kitchen,” Rohleder said. “We stood right next to the Missionaries of Charity, washing dishes, talking with them. Some were invited to their prayer time and adoration in their chapel.”
Parishioners, the Knights of Columbus, and Promise Bound Charities helped with the financing of the missionary trip.