BRIEF: Discussion on Nez Perce Prayers created by Cataldo to be held this month

Courtesy Gonzaga University
Courtesy Gonzaga University

On April 20, Catherine Brown Tkacz will present a lecture about the prayers that Gonzaga University founder the Rev. Joseph Cataldo, S.J., composed and translated into the Nez Perce language. The lecture, titled “Nunim Pist: Prayers in Nez Perce,” will be from 10 a.m.-noon at Bishop White Seminary (429 E. Sharp Ave.).

Tkacz (pronounced tuh-kahtch) will present the prayers, including their pronunciations and information on their meanings. At 11 a.m., all participants will be invited to pray the rosary together in the seminary chapel. That prayer service, including a hymn translated by Cataldo, will be entirely in Nez Perce, according to a press release.

Cataldo wrote the oldest musical score for any song in any Native American language in North America. In 1909, he compiled an entire hymnal comprised of 17 Nez Perce hymns for use throughout the Catholic Church year. His hymnal was recently reissued as “Nez Perce Hymns and Prayers Translated from Latin by Joseph M. Cataldo, S.J.,” edited by Tkacz. 

Tkacz served as a consultant on rare books and manuscripts to former Gonzaga President Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. During this time, she discovered the significance of the hymnbook to the Tribe and undertook research to prepare the volume she presented last fall, according to a press release.

One-hundred copies of this book have been donated to various Tribal group to help sustain the Nez Perce language and to enable worship using it. 

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