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

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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. 

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Journalism Instructor at Washington State University.

She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and for the Religion News Service.

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