Las Casas Newsletter
Las Casas News Oct. 1995

Las Casas Fund & Board. Previous Issue: No. 24, Oct., 1995

Number 25: September 1996:
Another Sacred Circle
Whisperings from the White Earth
Opportunity Available
Provide for the Present; Gift Future Generations
Honor Las Casas
Las Casas National Network News
Gift Planning


A unique gathering took plae in Canton, Oklahoma on April 27, 1996, when the three distinct Boards that are related to Las Casas Ministry among the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples met for the first time at White Earth Center. It was as enjoyable as attending a pow-wow!

The three Boards are: 1) the Sounding Board made up of Indians from western Oklahoma, who are participants in many of the Las Casas programs: 2) the Advisory Board, a mixed board of civic and religious leaders from Oklahoma who help counsel the on-site team, Sisters Mary Ann Cirillo, OP and JoAnn Fleischaker, OP; and 3) the Board of Trustees, who are a national board of Dominicans with fundraising and decision-making responsibilities. So, what a mix these three boards were that Saturday night in Canton!

By 6 'clock, delicious food had appeared out of nowhere, in typical American Indian tradition, followed by about 50 adults and children filling paper plates and hungry tummies. Huge round spools from telephone cables made great picnic tables placed inside a large circle of folding chairs. Such circles are traditional, but our big circle of members of Boards seemed sacred.

While tbe kids played soccer and routinely touched base with their parents, the board members and on-site staff each presented tbemselves: "Good evening, I'm Floyd Black Bear, a member of the Advisory Board." "I'm Ada Little Man", says another, explaining that she is on the Sounding Board but mostly thinks of herself as a friend of the Dominican Sisters in Canton. Her husband, Earl Littleman, who came out to this potluck in his wheel chair, presents himself and throws in a few Cheyenne words that make the Indians laugh. We all know he does some of the finest Indian beadwork in all of Oklahoma.

Betty Hart from the Advisory Board is accompanied by her teenage son, Craig, who proceeds to invite us all to his high school pow-wow the next night, which he is coordinating. Marilyn Francoeur, OP, a new member on the Board of Trustees, proudly tells of her American Indian roots and her enthusiasm of finally reaching Oklahoma. Another Dominican Trustee, Betty Werner, OP, explains that White Earth Center was founded and named after Sister Bette Jean Goebel, OP, from her Dominican congregation of Great Bend, Kansas. By now, the Cheyenne and Arapaho board memebers at this picnic have learned that "Dominicans" includes a lot of different "tribes" called provinces and congregations!

The exchange went on past sunset. One gave a courageous testimony as a recovering alcoholic: another asked how we can support the Dominican staff more. Joe Big Medicine insisted that the need was to better the education for Indian kids, hopefully by having an Indian high school with Indian curriculum someday. At one point, when a Trustee Board member had wondered out loud whether Las Casas was adequately responding to the true needs of the Cheyenne and Arapaho, a flood of gratitude and affirmation came forth from the Indians. When it comes to health needs, Jan Hufnagel, can offer good input on the Advisory Board, being a well-informed registered nurse and friend of Sisters Mary Ann and JoAnn.

When it got too dark, the whole circle moved inside White Earth Center to see a documentary video on the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, most of whom were known by the elders watching and adding their comments. By now the kids were tired from games and ready to dribble off to sleep: Alan, Lawrence, and Nona Roman Nose; also Joey, Mackenzie and Corey Black Wolf: and several more. So the eating and sharing had to come to an end. The openness and time together had built a sense of community and common cause for the future of Las Casas. Each one was thanking the other for her or his work or participation. There was a sense of mutual support for our common projects. This was the first such circle of three Boards gathering. And from the wonderful response, it seems that it won't be the last!

-Jerry Stookey, OP


Sister Mary Ann and Sister JoAnn continue to participate in the Oklahoma City Food Bank by purchasing food and personal items at fourteen cents a pound. In 1995, an estimated number of 769 individuals received food, etc., as needed. Also, 437 hot meals were served at the White Earth Center. The White Earth Center is also used for local meetings, tutoring, counseling, referral to appropriate agencies, adult basic education and the distribution of clothing.

The Sisters of the Las Casas Dominican Ministry Among the Cheyenne and Arapaho have hosted two groups of volunteers to assist in their ministry during the past year. Six college students and the sister-coordinator of the campus ministry at South Dakota State University ministered for one week by tutoring the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian elementary school children and performing manual labor projects at the center and for the senior citizens of Canton.

Five novices from the Dominican Common Novitiate in St. Louis volunteered to offer skill-building sessions in reading among the Indian children. Painting, repairing, gardening, cooking and common prayer were part of the daily schedule for the seven days that these women spent in community with the on-site staff.

The outreach ministry of the two sisters has included GED preparation at Taloga Jail as well as at the White Earth Center. Also, community outreach bas been among Spanish-speaking adults who need English as a second language.

The sisters at the Hospitality House continue to offer the use of the Las Casas telephone to those Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians who do not have access to telephones in their homes.

The White Earth Center continues to be used as a central place for the creation of traditional Cheyenne and Arapaho artwork. It is the place where the Indians feel free to use the facilities for their personal and communal growth and needs. The services detailed in this article will continue as planned. In addition, a newly acquired building will be the site of AA, Alanon, Alateen meetings and will offer youth activities that will minister to the needs of elementary and high school children of the area. The building has been donated by the S.O.O. Trucking Company of Okeene; the maintenance/upkeep will be assumed by Las Casas.

The needs assessment completed in 1994 revealed needs in the areas of education, health care, legal assistance and family welfare. The expansion of the projects developed has necessitated the planning for additional rented space.

Because of the growth of the Las Casas Ministry, the Board of Trustees has approved the search for a third member to join the two on-site staff members. Help us to pray that the search will be successful. May the Great Spirit bless you always.

-Mary Ann Cirillo, OP and JoAnn Fleischater, OP


The Personnel Committee of the Las Casas Board is announcing an opening to join Mary Ann Cirillo, OP (Hope) and JoAnn Fleischaker, OP (Adrian) at Canton, OK in working with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Native Americans. We are in need of a person who: has some experience in ministry with minority groups; has an interest in and capacity for youth ministry; is computer literate and has experience in financial matters at the local level; is drawn to Dominican team ministry and to community.

If you are interested or know of someone who might be, please contact: Mary Jordan Langenhennig, OP - 504-3465200 or Gerald Stookey, OP 312-666-3244. We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.


Las Casas Ministry is expanding our scope of fund-raising with new emphasis on grant requests and gift planning while still endeavoring to increase donations through our traditional avenues.

1995-96's was outstanding in the number of grants received for specific programs and projects. The following proposals have been funded in the current fiscal year:

As we rejoice over these successful grant writing efforts and thank JoAnn and Mary Ann for their role in preparing proposals we recognize a need for a Planned Gifts Program. Most of the funds received annually from all our generous donors and through the special grants will be spent soon.

Fund-raising requires continuous efforts. Our goal is to establish a reserve fund to help assure Las Casas Ministry in the future as well as fund current programs and aadress ongoing needs.

Consider a planned gift to Las Casas Ministry. Do you know others who share our mission? Please invite them to contribute to Las Casas. Planned Gifts can grow to help generations to come.


Received: A car phone was donated recently and a cordless phone for White Earth Center is promised through the generosity of a friend of Las Casas.

Needed: A freezer to store contributions from the food bank. Carpeting (60 square feet) for White Earth Center.


The first Dominican missionaries to the Americas were a small team of friars from Spain, who arrived in September 1510 at the large island in the Caribbean known as Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti). Their collective preaching defended the rights of indigenous peoples and influenced a secular priest, who had arrived in 1502, to join them. His name was Bartolome de las Casas. Due to his writings, Las Casas eventually became the most notorious of these prophetic Dominicans gaining recognition as "Defender of the Indians."

Today, Dominicans throughout the world still support the struggle for human rights and social justice as one of their principal ways of preaching the Gospel by putting it into practice. Dominicans in the United States are still dedicated to the cause of Las Casas: the defense of Indian rights.

Our Las Casas ministry urges everyone to work for the defense of human rights, especially tribal rights. One way of doing that is to participate in a national effort known as HONOR: Honor Our Neighbors' Origins and Rights.

HONOR's organizational brochure states its mission clearly. "HONOR is an ecumenical and secular human rights coalition that focuses on American Indian issues. Members -- Indian and non-Indian -- stand together as allies, seeking justice on critical concerns facing Indigenous peoples today."

Presently, one of HONOR's greatest priorities is the defense of Indian peoples' religious freedom -- a cause which Bartolome de las Casas himself would encourage us to defend as Dominicans or non-Dominicans. In light of his great heritage, we urge you to become a "Defender of the Indians" also by contacting:

2647 North Stowell Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Phone: 414-963-1324
Fax: 414-963-0137
-Jerry Stookey, O.P.


We have had responses from over 40 Dominicans who either are Native American in heritage and/or minister among the Native Americans in the United States. Many are interested in sharing ministry news, resources and other information related to Native American history in some way.

Please note the article on H.O.N.O.R. in this issue. At our recent Board meeting in Canton, OK, the avenue for this dialogue was discussed. We would like to explore the use of the semiannual Las Casas Newsletter with a regular report from one of the participants of the survey and their ministry with Native Americans.

How are the needs of Native Americans being met in your ministry, what efforts are being made to pass cultural values & traditions on to the next generation; developing Native American leadership and responsibilities for these ministries; ministry opportunities that may be open might interest the readers. What is significant about those responding is the variety of Native American tribes that are a part of Dominican ministry as well as being part of family history, i.e. Navajo, Menominee, Ojibwa, Flathead, Cherokee, Sioux, Blackfeet, Mayan, Yaqui, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Edisto Kusso Natchez, Potawattami, Mohawk, Swinomish/Tulalip, Tohono O'Oaham, Zuni, Oneida to name a few! This is exciting! Sharing these cultures, spiritualities and values is such a GIFT from God to be shared, making our journey just that much richer!

-Marilyn Francoeur, OP


The Las Casas Board of Trustees would like to gratefully acknowledge the committed service of three former members: Sisters Pat Mahoney, OP (Caldwell), Mary Eileen O'Brien, OP (Blauvelt), and Mary Karen O'Kelly, OP (Springfield).

Last October these women completed their second terms as members of the Board. Each gave six years of service to the work of the Board, and all three served the Board as President during their terms.

Our thanks to these three for their dedication, love and commitment to the work of Las Casas. May they be blessed abundantly as they continue their varied ministries.


By including Las Casas in your will, your contributions to Las Casas will continue to grow into the future. If you are one of the estimated 50% of American adults who do not have wills, we urge you to contact an attorney and prepare one now. Only your will gives you the power to decide how your assets will be distributed. It allows you to give financial support that reflects your choice and values.

In your will you can choose whichever type of bequest you prefer to make. A bequest can be for a specific dollar amount or percentage of your estate. Or you can choose to give some or all of the residue of your estate after all the other specifications of your will are honored. If you make a contingent bequest, it will take effect only when the beneficiary originally named does not survive you.

Yes, I'm Interested in Planned Giving!
_____ I have included Las Casas in my will.
_____ I would like more information about wills.
_____ I would like other information about Las Casas to give to my attorney and/or financial planner.

     Name: _________________________________________________________

  Address: _________________________________________________________

Telephone: _________________________________________________________

		Mail to:  Las Casas Ministry
			  Hospitality House
			  524 W Pine
			  Canton, OK 73724

| Index | Home | O P Sites | Search |