September 3, 2012

How to pass the baton to struggling native communities incorporating their traditions and values is an ongoing conversation among the few remaining members of the Society of Jesus in the Diocese of Fairbanks, which they founded and have been building during the past 125 years.

In their heyday, Jesuit priests would either live among native people or visit them frequently.

Today four priests work with Yupik Eskimo villages along the Yukon River and are trying to find innovative ways to promote vocations and develop leadership.

"How do we provide them with the resources and enable them to do it their way?" said Jesuit Father Tom Provinsal.

Provinsal and other Jesuits said today the priority of the Catholic Church in the "bush villages," or remote native communities only accessible by plane or boat, is the promotion of vocations and catechetical formation and training of lay people.