Char-Koosta News

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Father Drew honored at CSKT Summer Quarterly

By B.L. Azure
Char-Koosta News

Father Drew addresses the folks at the Summer Quarterly and thanks them for the opportunity to serve them. (B.L. Azure photo) Father Drew addresses the folks at the Summer Quarterly and thanks them for the opportunity to serve them. (B.L. Azure photo)

PABLO — Sometimes time drags, sometimes it flies. Sometimes something that began long ago now all of a sudden comes to an end. Such is the time of Father Andrew “Drew” Maddock, the Catholic Jesuit priest who has been at the St. Ignatius Catholic Jesuit Mission Church alter for 17 years. Father Drew came to St. Ignatius at the start of the new century and new millennium. Seems like a fairly long time ago but it also seems like a very short time now that Father Drew’s time on the Flathead Indian Reservation has come to an end with retirement. He left the Rez this Tuesday but his memories of the folks of the reservation, especially the Indian community, and the community’s memories of him will remain, will endure.

At the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Tribal Council Summer Quarterly, the Tribal Council and folks in attendance paid homage to the Jesuit Priest, fondly known as Father Drew.

Vice-Chair Len Twoteeth, who chaired the Quarterly in Chair Vernon Finley’s stead, introduced — he needed none — and welcomed Father Drew at the Summer Quarterly last Friday. The 73-year-old Catholic Jesuit priest is retiring after a long career.

“We are here to honor Father Drew,” Twoteeth said. “He’s the person who has been with many of us from birth to death.”

Francis Vanderburg and Father Drew exchange hugs and warm words. (B.L. Azure photo) Francis Vanderburg and Father Drew exchange hugs and warm words. (B.L. Azure photo)

Through his years here, Father Drew quickly became a part of the cultural and everyday lives of the tribal people. He has been by their side in times of joy, in times of sorrow and in times of need. He accepted the tribal people as they are and he was accepted by them.

“Father Drew has done so much for us, upfront and behind the scenes,” said Ronan District Tribal Council Representative Carole Lankford. “You’re going to be missed. We’re going to miss you so much. Thank you so very much for what you have done for us and the community.”

The Tribal Council then presented Father Drew with a Pendleton blanket that Lankford and Arlee District Tribal Council Representative Troy Felsman draped over Father Drew’s shoulders. Then Lankford handed Father Drew the microphone.

“A Jesuit has to talk,” Father Drew said. “I remember when I first came to the reservation. It was November 30, (2000) during the Feast of Andrew. That’s when I became Father Drew.”

Father Drew replaced Father Joe Retzel, who transferred to the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, and who retired from there about three years ago.

The thank you line for Father Drew was a long one. (B.L. Azure photo) The thank you line for Father Drew was a long one. (B.L. Azure photo)

“It has been my privilege to be have been here,” Father Drew said. “I told the Provincial that I don’t want to leave St. Ignatius. But I don’t have the power to change that decision. I will be replaced by three Jesuits.”

Father Drew said he couldn’t take but a few personal possessions when he leaves so he has to narrow his packing list down quite a bit. He will for sure be taking his golf clubs and bicycle so he can hit the greens and bike paths in his retirement future.

However, he will be taking all of his 17 years worth of memories of the Flathead Indian Reservation where he has become an integral part of the tribal community from baptism to final rest.

"How can I love you more, walk with you more, talk to you more,” he told the quarterly crowd. That love, those walks and those talks will now be done via memories of his time at this place with the people of this place.

Father Drew has earned his relaxed future and many of the people are thankful for his labor of love here on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Fore!

(Part two of the Summer Quarterly, next CKN issue.)
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