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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
December 2, 1990     Arkansas Catholic
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December 2, 1990

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PAGE 16 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC DF.CEMBER 2, 1990 Mission and School Seeks Christmas Help Says yers, ations Urgently Needed Speelal to Ar~ Catholic T}IOREAU, NM --This year, Very Rev. Douglas A. McNeill celebrates his 20th anniversary as a priest as director of a struggling Indian Mission far removed from the Borough of Brooklyn where he was raised by Irish immigrant parents. "Fr. Doug," as he is affectionately known to the contingent of nearly 40 religious and lay missionaries serving with him, is director and spiritual Bonaventure Indian Mission and School on the doorstep of the Eastern Navajo Reservation in Thoreau, NM. After 20 years of hearing confessions, Fr. Doug is ready to admit that he, too, has a confession to make. "Never, on the day I made my vows," says the priest whose d~ication is rivaled only by his compassion, "did I dream my service to God would turn me into what I've become... ...A BEGGARMAN!" Explaining how he has come to find himself in this unexpected role, Fr. Doug acknowledges, "If ! had the heart to turn my back on despair bred by near-Third- World poverty, I wouldn't be a beggarman. "If I had the heart to turn my back on starvation and mal- in America, I wouldn~ be a beggarman. "If I had the heart to turn my back on a new generation of American Indian boys and girls I see being condemned to the same lives of hoplessness as their I wouldn't be a beggarman." "But," the red-haired priest, confesses, "I AM a beggermanF' As though it were yesterday, Fr. Doug recalls the day two years ago when he visited "Ella," a Navajolndian. and her family in the 16xl6-foot "box" that was their home. 'q'he ceiling was plastic trash bags held in place with carpet tape," Fr. Doug vividly remembers. 'q'he walls were of scrap plywood. Sections of the outside had been tarpapered which gave a patchwork look to the makeshift dwelling Ella had constructed to try to protect her family-from winter's life- threatening cold." Two years ago, Fr. Doug McNelil, director of St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School, "begged" for a new home for this child and her family. Today, this family is safe from winter's threatening cold in the •first real home they have ever known. "thanks," the priest says, "to help from wonderful friends who care, as I do." As he stepped inside the crude shelter with its "floor" of bare earth, hardpacked and swept clean, Ft. Doug said he realized that "Ella and her children didn't 'live' in this box; they simply tried to sur’ive." lIis heart pierced with sorrow when he later learned that an infant had died within those flimsy walls, Fr. Doug determined he would do whatever was necessary to help Ella and her family. lie turned to begging. Today, "thanks to wonderful friends who care," Fr. Doug exults, Ella and her family are safe from winter's cold in the t'u'st real home they've known." Starvation and malnutrition. These are more than words to Fr. Doug! Starvation and mal- nutrition among the aging Navajo Indians living in pockets of poverty on the Eastem Navajo Reservation have stirred the priest to action. Financed by his "begging," the Mission opcrates what is possibly the only meals' delivery program of its kind in the continental United States. Bouncing along Paul Bargeman from. Pocahontas Serving at Indian Mission in NM TIIOREAU, NM -- Paul his military career, heservedl6 Bargeman, a native and recent years with the Criminal Justice resident of Pocahontas, is among ServicewiththestateofVixginia. the nearly 40 lay and religious At. St. Bonaventure Mission, missioners serving at St. Bargeman serves as Director of Bonaventure Indian Mission and Outreach, responsible for School here. "helping meet the most basic I Ie is a member of St. Paul the n~,ds of Indian people." Apostle Parish, as were his During November, Bargeman ~arents,thelateJohnEdwardand visited home and shared his MaybeUBargeman. mission experiences with Bargeman was a resident of members of his home parish. Randolph County tmtil entering During his visit, he showed a the mRitary in 1945. Foll0wing videoprogramaboattheMmsion. deeply-rutted paths over terrain Brooklyn- born Fr. Doug McNeill with a group of students that requires a four-wheel drive e $ e s s e s s $ $ s • • s s @ s.@ o • oo • s @ o @ @ @ @ $ @ o vehicletotraverse, laymissioners • Dear Arkansas Catholic Reader, * travel thousands of miles yearly • * to b~ing hot, nutritious meals to • I'm turning to y~u for your urgent , • help. I'm begging you to join me th;s aging Navajos. And, dailgl the , " . Mission hall is ftlled with grateful @ Christmas in a partnership of prayer, , diners because Fr. Doug and his : love and concern. *• missionaries take seriously • My urgent and serieus problem is ~he • Christ's commandment to "fecd " plight of destitute families and aging , • First Americans on the Eastern Navajo • the hungry." • • Fr. Doug also takes seriously " Reservation ...and the future of our • • Mission school boys and girls. • these statistics: • I cannot turn my back on the despair • • 55% o/the Navajopopulation • • • bred my near-Third-World poverty, so • cannolreadorwrite • I 'm begging for your prayers...and " • thesuiciderateamongNavajo • * • your help. I cannot turn my back on teenagersizlentiraeshigherthan • starvation and malnutrition, so .I am • for their age group in the U.S. . • population atlarge. • begging for your prayers, and your • • help. I cannot turn my back on a new " Out of this need was founded • , theMissionschool, BlessedKateri " g~neration of American Indian boys and , • girls I see as condemned to lives cf • Tekakwitha Academy, now in ik~ • • • tenthyear. , hopelessness without an education, so i . Tokeeptheschool'sdoorsopen, • "am begging for your prayers...and your • • Fr. Doug goes begging. , help. • Christmas b~l, esszng., • Gifts to St. Bonaventure Indian. : 7"-~"7"--"’"I ,(;{:~b • Mission and Blessed Kateri* ~ • • Father Doug M 11 • Tekakwitha Academy are fully , • tax-deductible. The school also • P.S. I pray for your needs, too. . qualifies for ~Matching Gifts." ** • • • • • • • * • • • • * * * * • • • • • • * • * • • • • • • Illll II 1 lill Clip and Mail Today 1 I 1 I 1 1 I I 1 1 • Father Doug, here's my emergency Christmas gift of $ Dear Pray for my Intention: Name Address City. State Zip. ( ) Please check here if you would like to receive u specially-designLrd, gold-plated (;,.~.,d Shepherd Pin as a token of appreciation for your gift of $100.00 or more. You will also be enrolleA as a 1991 member of our Good Shepherd Club for whom Mass is offered on the 15th of each inonlh. ( ) Please du~ck here if~ou would like to receive a ster!ing silver per~ant with a gerLuine turquo£se iRme and cornflower design symbolizing good fortune, made by our local Indians, as a token of appreciatitm for your gift of $3S.O0 or ,,,me. li is a pie af iewel,y you will wen, -- or give -- with pride. Send to: FatherDoug McNeill Emergency Christmas Help from Arkansas Catholic Readers St. Bonaventure Indian Mission and School Eastern Navajo Reservation -- P.O. Box 610 Thoreau, New Mexico 87323 - 0610 ^CLRAR- KS