PINE RIDGE, South Dakota – During a Mass to formally open the sainthood cause for Chief Nicholas W. Black Elk, the Native American was described as someone who merged the Lakota and Catholic culture in a way “that drew him deeper into the mystery of Christ’s love and the church.”
Black Elk’s love for God and Scripture led him to become a catechist, fulfilling the mission of all disciples, said Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City in his homily at the Oct. 21 Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Pine Ridge.
The bishop said that for 50 years Black Elk led others to Christ often melding his Lakota culture into his Christian life. “This enculturation can always reveal something of the true nature and holiness of God,” he said, adding that Black Elk always “challenged people to renew themselves, to seek this life that Christ offers them.”
Gruss said Black Elk’s life as a dedicated catechist, spiritual leader and guide “inspired many to live for Christ by his own story.” With the formal opening of his cause, Black Elk now has the title “servant of God.”