National Day of Prayer for Aboriginal Peoples – Rose Prince: an example of goodness and compassion

Tuesday, November 22 2011

RosePrince2011(CCCB – Ottawa)… Each year on December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) invites the faithful to pray with Aboriginal Peoples. For this occasion, the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council of the CCCB prepares an annual message. This year’s focus is Rose Prince, a remarkable woman from a small First Nations community near Fort St. James, in the Diocese of Prince George, British Columbia. 

Rose Prince was born in 1915 at Nak’azdli.  Descended from the great Carrier Chief Kwah, Rose was a good student and a gifted artist.   Her life was not easy. Born with curvature of the spine that resulted in a hump on her back, she lived with pain that made her movements awkward.  Rose was devout in her practice of the Catholic faith and lived a simple life of prayer and work in the service of others.  As it came time for her to leave Lejac Residential School, she asked if she could stay on as a lay staff member.  She lived and worked at the residential school for 27 years, and was known there for her goodness and compassion.

Rose died of tuberculosis in 1949 at the age of 34.  In 1951 when it was decided that a few graves west of the school would be moved to a larger cemetery nearby, her coffin broke open during the transfer and the workers were amazed to find her body and clothing perfectly preserved.

Devotion to Rose Prince has developed over the years.  A pilgrimage to her gravesite began in 1990 and has grown into an annual event that attracts hundreds of people from throughout Western Canada

Mission of the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council (CCAC)

The CCCB Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council (CCAC) is composed of seven Aboriginal members and two Bishops from across the country. Its mandate is to advise and assist the CCCB on issues concerning indigenous peoples in Canada in general, including socio-economic conditions, discrimination and poverty, as well as opportunities for healing, reconciliation and social advancement.

The CCAC also advises and assists the CCCB on concerns of Catholic indigenous peoples in Canada, including questions regarding the relations of the Church with indigenous communities, traditional expressions of indigenous Catholic spirituality, and opportunities for pastoral ministry.