Missionaries of the Sacred

Native American Ministry PDF Print

There are six Native American reservations and churches that get monthly visits from Fr. Earl Henley, MSC, the parish priest of St. Joseph Mission in Soboba Reservation, San Jacinto, CA.  These reservations (Torres Martinez, Pechanga, Cahuilla, Santa Rosa, Morongo, and Soboba) are spread around the Riverside-San Bernardino metro area.  The distance between Soboba and the rest of the communities varies from 25 miles to 80 miles.  Fr. Earl celebrates the Eucharist as well as baptisms, first reconciliations, first communions,  funerals and one-year funeral anniversaries for all six communities.  The mission focuses on strengthening the community by bringing Catholic teachings and values while also honoring and preserving Native American traditions.

Many of the people who live in these communities are employed by and benefit from the casino industry.  The vast growth of the industry these past few years has brought economic self-sufficiency for many Native Americans.  However, the continued lack of education and employment options and the remoteness of the reservations do not put a stop to the growing problem of alcohol and substance abuse in the community.

The MSC Native American mission in  southern California is important because it provides the spiritual  support needed to live a better life and     counteract the vicious cycle of addiction in the community.  Recognizing that Native American children are typically  underserved educationally, the MSC mission in Soboba also pays close attention to the needs of the students of St. Jude School (K-5).  Currently, there are 34 students enrolled at the school, which is double the enrollment of last year.  The school focuses on three aspects of  education:

  1. Strong general education with emphasis on reading, writing, math and science
  2. Cultural education including the Luiseno language and traditions
  3. Knowledge and love of God.

By educating the children and their parents on the important values of life and empowering them with spiritual guidance, the mission opens up new possibilities for the community.

Support MSC Native American Ministry

Fr. Earl Henley, MSC

Fr. Earl in the news!

We invite you to check out the October 3, 2011 article “Lonely Ministry in an Indian Parish” by Phil Willon for a glimpse into Fr. Earl’s work as the head of the Native American Ministry for the Diocese of San Bernardino.

See part of Fr. Earl Henley’s ministry in pictures through the slideshow “Tending a parish of scattered tribes” posted on the Los Angeles Times’ website. (link)