SPOKANE, Wash. – On Saturday, April 20, Catherine Brown Tkacz, Ph.D. will present a lecture about the prayers that Gonzaga University founder Rev. Joseph Cataldo, S.J., composed and translated into the Nez Perce language. The lecture, titled “Nunim Pist: Prayers in Nez Perce,” is from 10 a.m.-noon at Bishop White Seminary (429 E. Sharp Ave.).
Tkacz will present the prayers, including their pronunciations and information on their meanings. Handouts containing the prayers will be distributed. 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 Fr. Cataldo, will be entirely in Nez Perce. In September (2012), Tkacz presented a lecture on the hymns that Rev. Cataldo composed and translated into Nez Perce. Both lectures are part of the ongoing celebration of the 125th anniversary of Gonzaga’s founding.
Rev. 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. A generous donation from Patrick and Mary Griffith, parents of Gonzaga alumna Kate Griffith (2012), funded printing of the new edition.
As part of Gonzaga’s 125th Anniversary Celebration Week last September, Tkacz discussed this remarkable religious and cultural treasure during her lecture titled, “Kum Anieuat: Hymns in Nez Perce”; the Nez Perce words Kum Anieuat are pronounced “koom Ahn-yeh-WAT.” Tkacz is a research associate for Bishop White Seminary at Gonzaga.
The Gonzaga University Faith and Reason Institute is sponsor of both events. Father Cataldo and the other Jesuit missionaries of the Pacific Northwest exemplified the pastoral union of faith and reason in their abundant, respectful translation of Scriptures, hymns, and prayers.
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. In 2008, Tkacz mounted an exhibition of the Nez Perce materials in the Cowles Rare Books Library in Gonzaga’s Foley Center Library and prepared an online version.
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. More information on Nez Perce materials also can be found in Gonzaga’s Jesuit archives online.
For more information, please contact Margaret Rankin at (509) 592-0377 or via e-mail.