When Delores Dailey walked into the St. Paul Catholic Mission, tears began to fill her eyes and no word could explain how she felt.
“The church was so beautiful and the feeling I had was just overwhelming,” Dailey said. “The pillars, glass work and knowing my ancestors had been there is what captured me.”
On April 12 the Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center took 16 Osage elders to St. Paul, Kans., to visit the St. Paul Catholic Mission formally known as the Osage Catholic Mission.
The mission was established in 1847, seven years before Kansas became a territory and 14 years prior to statehood. Its origins are traced to Jesuit and Osage activity during the early 1820’s, according to osagemission.org
Not to mention, the mission helped the Osage people establish an educational and financial foundation.
“We decided to take the elders to St. Paul because we wanted to give them an opportunity to get out of their homes and a chance to visit someplace special,” said Vann Bighorse, Wah Zha Zhi Cultural Center director.
The group visited the Osage Mission-Neosho County Museum where they browsed through the museum’s collection, which included photos of Osages and Jesuit Priests from the 1800’s, documents, books and a slideshow.
Felix Diskin, a volunteer from the museum also gave a presentation on the history of the mission, the relationships between the Jesuits and Osage people and the time the Osages spent in Kansas.
The elders then went across the street to the St. Paul Mission where they were able to see the inside of the church that is still active today.
Lastly, the elders went to the St. Paul cemetery where all the Jesuit Priests who helped the Osages were buried along with Osages. One of the Osage headstones read Charles N. Mongrain born January 15, 1814 and died January 17, 1864.
“It was so interesting all the information and the reality of it was so real,” Dailey said.
Dailey, Osage, is from Hominy and is happy the cultural center planned the trip. She believes that everyone should make a trip to go to St. Paul.
“There is a lot of information there for our younger generations and I’d surely go again,” she said.