St. Peter Celebrates Centennial with Mass, Food, Games and More
Gila River Indian News
St. Peter Indian Mission Catholic School’s and church celebrated its centennial providing Catholic education to the Gila River Indian Community with mass, food, games, chicken scratch music and dancing from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Dec. 9. More than 100 people attended the event.
The school was founded in 1923, by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, which continues to oversee the school and parish. The integration of the O’otham culture with Catholic education is what makes St. Peter Indian Mission Catholic School unique, as it incorporates the O’otham Himdag (way of life) of respect, reverence and responsibility into prayer and liturgy.
“We are gathering to thank God for a century of blessings,” said the school’s principal, Sister Martha May Carpenter, who has spent 38 years as a principal and teacher.
She explained the history of the school’s foundation and how it developed from a small school and church to what it is today. Sister Carpenter thanks to the support of God and the Community, they are expecting a new high school building to be approved soon.
“I’ve been a student here since kindergarten; I like this school because they are kind and helpful,” said Makayla Lewis, District 5. Lewis attended the celebration and volunteered at the booths. Her friend Zayeda Valdez, District 5, added that the teachers are nice to the students and make them feel valued.
“It’s really awesome that this institution has been serving the people for a hundred years,” said Brother Lawrence Hoag with the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit. Hoag is in his first year of training as a priest, teaching algebra and carpentry to freshman students.
“Just to think about all the kids who have gone to school here and who have been prepared for life here is really amazing,” said Hoag. When he finishes school and returns as a priest, he plans to make St. Peter Indian Mission School and Church his place of service for the rest of his priesthood.
The centennial celebration began with mass and the feast house opened for lunch. Kids enjoyed inflatable jumping castles and rode a mechanical bull while others played chair volleyball, tug-of-war and kickball. Prize drawings were held for items such as two flat-screen TVs and a single-cab truck. The festivities lasted into the evening, as the O’otham people danced to bands playing traditional chicken scratch music.