By Jon Reddy

Of the Sentinel

Darren Kennedy, 19, a Burns Paiute tribal member, entered adulthood following a ceremony conducted by the intertribal City of Roses Kateri Circle last week.

Kennedy has lived almost all of his life at the Providence Child Center in Northeast Portland. Like others who live there, he suffers from complex medical problems and significant developmental delays. He is not able to participate in the usual rites of passage into manhood celebrated by his tribe, but he was honored by a Native American blessing, a Round Dance, and a Give-Away ceremony.

Connie Smith, Pearl Skinner, Lois French, and Holy Names Sister Rosemarie Kasper, all members of the Kateri Circle, a group of Native American Catholics, led the sacred ceremonies.

Attending the ceremony were Darren's friends who live at the center, the staff who care for the children, eighth grade students from Holy Redeemer, and other visitors.

The students from Holy Redeemer School who attended Darren's ceremony also participate in a Friend to Friend Faith Group that meets weekly at the children's nursing center. They share their time getting to know the children at the center. The students made the gifts that Darren shared at the Give-Away Ceremony.

Dorothy Coughlin, director of the Office for People with Disabilities, coordinated the meeting of the two groups of student.

Teacher Mary Mattecheck and Holy Redeemer principal, Kathy Gritzmacher, and parents of the students encourage the relationship between the children at the center and the students at Holy Redeemer.

As Darren celebrated a rite of passage, Gritzmacher said, 'It's an eighth-grade rite of passage also.' The students learn how to relate to children who have differences at a time in their lives when they are struggling with differences and acceptance.

The children's nursing center is the only nursing facility in the Pacific Northwest dedicated exclusively to children with profound disabilities and complex medical needs.