For immediate release: July 20, 2015
FATHER HENRY SANDS APPOINTED DIRECTOR
OF BLACK AND INDIAN MISSION OFFICE
Father Maurice Henry Sands has been appointed to be the new Executive Director of the Black and Indian Mission Office, headquartered in Washington, D.C. Father Sands, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, succeeds Father Wayne Paysse, who has served as Executive Director since 2007.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Chairman of the Board, made the announcement on behalf of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Archbishop William Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, who together comprise the agency’s Board of Directors.
Father Sands, currently serving as the Assistant Director, Native American Affairs, at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, assumes his new role on September 1, 2015.
Ordained in 2005, Father Sands served as a parish priest prior to his appointment to the USSCB. He is a full-blooded Native American belonging to the Ojibway, Ottawa, and Potawatomi tribes, and grew up on Walpole Island (Bkejwanong First Nation) which is located in the St. Clair River one hour north of Detroit, Michigan. Father Sands expressed his eagerness to begin this next phase of his priestly ministry, saying, “It is a great honor, and at the same time it is also very humbling, to be asked to serve as the next Executive Director of the Black and Indian Mission Office. I will strive my best to be a prayerful and conscientious and obedient servant of the Lord as I assist the bishops of the United States in their efforts to evangelize and catechize and care for the spiritual and pastoral needs of African American and Native American Catholics.”
Father Paysse was ordained to the priesthood in 1987 and served over 8 years as Executive Director. Reflecting on his years at the Mission Office, Father Paysse said, “I sought to motivate ‘the People of God’ across the United States to better understand their Baptismal Call to continue the mission of Jesus in day to day life. I have been humbled to continue the dynamic legacy of St. Katharine Drexel in collaboration with directors of diocesan offices, pastors and principals of school from coast to coast.” Among Father Paysse’s many accomplishments were launching the Mission Office website (
a quarterly printed publication on Native American ministry, and hosting on-line magazines for Black and Indian Catholic interests.
Cardinal Dolan welcomed Father Sands to the Mission Office, and thanked Father Paysse for his many years of service, saying, “On behalf of Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Lori, and myself, I would like to express our gratitude to Father Sands for taking on this important missionary role with our Native and African American Catholics. He succeeds Father Paysse, who has served as an effective administrator and a welcoming messenger of the Gospel. A special word of thanks, as well, to Archbishop Allen Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, for allowing Father Sands to participate in this ministry, and to Archbishop Gregory Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans, for the many years of generous service that Father Paysse has given.”
The Black and Indian Mission Office is comprised of three distinct but inter-related organizations, each with its own purpose and history, but all seeking to fulfill the one Mission to the Missions! Founded by the Catholic bishops of the United States, each organization cooperates with local diocesan communities to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and respond to real and pressing needs on the ground. The three organizations are the
Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions (established 1874)
Commission for the Catholic Missions (established 1884)
; and, the
Catholic Negro-American Mission Board (established 1907, united with BIMO 1980)