Many know the USA Province of Saint Ann’s history and how Donald E. Pelotte SSS, our provincial superior in 1986, was chosen bishop for the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico. This diocese straddles two states, New Mexico and Arizona – the territory of the Navajo Nation. Until his retirement in 2009, Bishop Pelotte had a great devotion and love for Saint Michael Catholic Indian School (SMIS) in the town of the same name in Arizona. After his untimely death and that of his twin brother, Father Dana G. Pelotte SSS, in 2014, I distributed the Bishop Pelotte trust, sharing funds earmarked for this pre-K thru 12th grade Catholic school founded in 1902 by Saint Katherine Drexel.
After the distribution of the Pelotte Trust, the school contacted me to thank me, and SMIS president Dot Teso and I met while I was on summer vacation in 2015 in Albuquerque. At that lunch, we brainstormed about continuing the partnership of bringing the Eucharistic spirituality and programs to the students of this school – something very near and dear to the heart of Bishop Pelotte. Our Blessed Sacrament parish, Saint Paschal Baylon (SPB), Highland Heights, Ohio, developed a partnership with Saint Michael’s and our SPB youth minister, Evamarie Mickol Cross, and I enlisted the teen Life in the Eucharist Retreats (LITE) from our SPB’s youth group to fly to SMIS. In our service trips, we not only shared LITE retreats but also special Masses, raised funds and donated hymnals, built beds for a newly remodeled retreat center, and painted and tutored students each Easter break until the pandemic.
Photo left: Sister Marilyn and Dot Tesa; Photo right: Students with beds made by students of Saint Paschal Baylon