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Past Projects

Links to previous presentation recordings, notes, etc. can be found HERE.

The Nez Perce Project


Fr. Joseph Marie Cataldo, S.J., was among the Jesuit missionaries to the Pacific Northwest in the mid-nineteenth century. The Nez Perce Tribe in particular had his devotion. He translated into Nez Perce the Gospels as well as numerous prayers and hymns, some of which have lived to the present day in the memory of members of the Tribe. His translation work exemplified putting reason in service to faith, learning the culture and language of the people he served well enough to bring into it central texts of the faith. To facilitate the learning of the Nez Perce language, the Faith and Reason Institute has launched the Nez Perce Project.


Fr. Cataldo translated each Gospel individually into Nez Perce and also wrote a synoptic life of Jesus in Nez Perce, drawing on all four Gospels. He prepared a lectionary, prayers, hymns, and many other texts. In 1909 when he was seventy-two he handwrote a hymn book with seventeen songs in Nez Perce, complete with musical scores. This is evidently the oldest written record for words and music of any song in any native American language in all of North America. While most of the hymns and prayers are translations from Latin originals, he also wrote original songs and prayers in Nez Perce.

In 2008 Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, then President of Gonzaga University, authorized Dr. Catherine Brown Tkacz, his Special Consultant on Rare Books and Manuscripts, to mount an exhibition on Fr. Cataldo's translation work. This proved to be the starting point for a new collaboration with the Tribe. Several members of the Tribe honored the University by attending the exhibition's reception at which three of the hymns were sung. Some of the Nez Perce knew one of these hymns from memory, and the idea of producing a new edition of the hymnal was born. In Spring of 2009 all the hymns were sung at a workshop at Lewis Clark State College, with useful input from members of the Tribe and from other scholars in Nez Perce.

When Fr. Spitzer completed his presidency, Dr. Tkacz continued the work on her own and found a pair of anonymous donors to fund a student assistant who transcribed the musical scores into computer software in order to produce printable music. Dr. Tkacz also included several prayers in Nez Perce in the new edition. In 2011 the Faith and Reason Institute became the sponsor for this project. Another pair of donors, Patrick and Mary Griffith, generously funded the printing and mailing of this new edition in 2012.

In 2012-13, the 125th anniversary of Fr. Cataldo's founding of Gonzaga College, two presentations of the new materials are being given. In the fall of 2012, the hymns were the focus, with a small group singing three of the hymns. In the spring of 2013, the prayers will be the focus, and again some of the hymns will be sung. Also, this website was launched in Fall of 2012, with links to the 2008 exhibition's online version, the PowerPoint Presentations on the hymns, and the YouTube recording of the presentations with singing. In addition, a "Recovering Resources" page identifies some possible topics for student research that would make accessible texts for the use of the Tribe.

Ongoing Efforts at Recovering Resources

A wealth of texts in Nez Perce - and indeed in a wide range of other Native American languages - is preserved in the Archives of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, housed in Special Collections at Gonzaga University's Cowles Rare Books Library, on the Third Floor of the Foley Library Center. Hopefully it will be possible to make more of these texts available, through new editions or through posting online at this website. 

                To prepare a text for posting here, please follow the guidelines for producing accurate and uniform texts. 

                To date, the Sacred Heart prayer card (JOPA, Cataldo Papers 1.5) is available. 


Powerpoint by Dr. Catherine Tkacz: Kum Anieuat

Video Recording of "Kum Anieuat" Presentation
September 12, 2012, Gonzaga University 

Online Version of the 2008 Cowles Rare Book Display

Catherine Brown Tkacz, "The Oldest Native American Songs in North America: The Nez Perce Hymns of Father Cataldo," The Gonzaga Witness (2012) 31-33 

Coming Soon: "Nunim Pist: Prayers in Nez Perce." A Presentation by Dr. Catherine Brown Tkacz, April 2013. 

Suffering and the God of Abraham


Believers in the God of Abraham daily face the challenge of personal and broader human suffering and the accusation that theistic belief is both bankrupt and irrelevant in the face of such suffering. This week-long series of free, public lectures will explore the depths of both human suffering and divine love using the works of CS Lewis as a departure point to discuss the philosophical, theological problem of human pain.


Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., as Gonzaga University President, Jesuit priest, teacher, author and lecturer of topics ranging from ethics, philosophy, and the relationship between modern physics and Christian faith, wears many hats. Fr. Spitzer earned his M.Div. degree from the Gregorian University, a Masters in Theology from the Weston School (Cambridge), and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America. Among Fr. Spitzer’s works are the books, Healing the Culture: A Commonsense Philosophy of HappinessFreedom, and the Life IssuesThe Spirit of Leadership: Optimizing Creativity and Change in Organizations; and an upcoming book, New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions to Late Twentieth Century Physics and Philosophy, submitted to the Notre Dame University Press.

Katherin Rogers is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Delaware. She received her BA in Philosophy and History and MA in Philosophy from the University of Delaware and her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. Her areas of expertise are Early Medieval Philosophy and contemporary analytic Philosophy of Religion. Her books include Perfect Being TheologyThe Anselmian Approach to God and Creation and The Neoplatonic Metaphysics and Epistemology of Anselm of Canterbury. Her current research interest is free will issues in Anselm of Canterbury. She lives in Delaware with her husband Mark, an artist and novelist, and her four children.

Dr. Bruce Edwards is Professor of English and Associate Dean for Distance Education and International Programs at Bowling Green State University (Ohio), where he has served the past 23 years. He received his B.A. from the University of Missouri-Rolla (1977), his Master's Degree from Kansas State University (1979), and his Ph.D. in Literature and Rhetoric from the University of Texas at Austin (1981). Edwards has published dozens of articles on the life and work of C. S. Lewis, and is the author of A Rhetoric of Reading: C. S. Lewis's Defense of Western Literacy, editor of The Taste of the Pineapple: Essays on C.S. Lewis as Reader, Critic, and Imaginative Writer, and also served on the editorial board for The C. S. Lewis Readers Encyclopedia. He is also the author of Searching for Great Ideas, Processing Words, and Rough drafts. Most recently, Dr. Edwards has been named a C S Lewis Fellow by the C S Lewis Foundation for 2004. His current research focuses on the role of C. S. Lewis as a public intellectual and his continuing impact on American Christianity.

Science and the God of Abraham


Believers in the God of Abraham - the theistic Creator-God of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic tradition - face the challenge of integrating their faith with a scientific understanding of the universe. This week-long series of lectures will explore the relationship between faith and science, often treating the Christian roots of modern science and the coherence of scientific discovery and Christian doctrine. This series is also part of the Faith and Reason Institute's Catholic Intellectual Tradition Project. 


Dr. Catherine Brown Tkacz is visiting professor of theology at the Ukrainian Catholic University. She holds a Ph.D. in medieval studies from the University of Notre Dame, and is currently an Earhart Foundation Research Fellow. Her first book, on early Christian art, was co-published by the University of Notre Dame Press and by Brepols Publishers. She has numerous scholarly publications on theology, the Bible and women in the Church. She is also a published poet. One of her most recently published works is The Ruthenian Liturgy: An Historical-Theological Explication(Mellen Press, 2012).

Dr. Katherin A. Rogers is professor of philosophy at the University of Delaware. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Delaware, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. She specializes in the areas of medieval philosophy and the philosophy of religion. Her most recent book publication is Anselm on Freedom (Oxford University Press, 2008). 

Rev. Paul S. Vevik of the Diocese of Spokane holds the S.T.B. and the M.A. in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of Louvain.


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