St. Kateri Tekakwitha During my years of travel driving a semi from coast to coast in the USA and through a large part of Canada, one of the places that I passed frequently, where I always wanted to stop for a visit and yet never did was Auriesville, New York. It is there that the Shrine of the North American Martyrs is located. Many of these martyrs were French priests who gave their lives preaching the Gospel to the Native Americans. One such convert of these missionaries was Kateri Tekakwitha, daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was born very near the town of Auriesville in 1656. She was 4 years old when her mother died in a smallpox epidemic. She also contracted the disease and, though she survived, her face was terribly disfigured. She was adopted by her two aunts and an uncle, then as a teenager converted to the Catholic Faith and was baptized at the age of 20. As a result of her new found Christian faith she suffered great hostility from the members of her tribe, but remained firm. She soon moved to a colony of Christian Indians in Canada where she spent her life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices and the care of the sick and elderly. She would go to mass early every morning and had a deep love and devotion for our Lord in the Eucharist and the Crucified Jesus. She also had a great love for creation and all God’s wonderful creatures. She died at age 24 on April 17, 1680 and is known affectionately as the”Lily of the Mohawks.” Devotion to St. Kateri is responsible for establishing Native American Ministries in Catholic Churches throughout the United States, Canada and here at home in North Dakota. She was canonized a Saint by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012 and is the first Native American to be declared a saint. This fact along with her tireless service to the sick and aged should make her near and dear to our hearts as we strive to live the Mission of Jesus Christ and His Church. Her feastday is today, July 14. St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us. Amen.
by Deacon Jim Hunt