Kateri Takakwitha First Native American Saint
By Blessed Kateri Parish, Submitted
Perhaps, the Blessed Kateri Mission Church will soon be changing its name. The Catholics of Hoopa and surrounding communities are excited at the prospect of the canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. On October 21st, Kateri Tekawitha will be made the first Native American Saint. Her story is simple and powerful.
The Jesuits who chronicled her life tell us that Kateri was born in what is now Auriesville, N.Y., on the southern bank of the Mohawk River, about 40 miles west of Albany. At the age of 4, she was orphaned when a smallpox epidemic killed her Algonquin Christian mother and Mohawk-warrior father. She also endured the disease and was badly scarred on her face. Her eyesight was also impaired, earning her the name Tekakwitha, which means, “she who bumps into things.”
She lived with her uncle, and even though a marriage was arranged; she took a vow of perpetual virginity, and ran away to a Catholic Indian Settlement. There she worked with the sick and lived a simple life of devotion.
After she died, the people of her community witnessed the miraculous clearing of her face leaving her skin smooth and scar-free.
Catholics began petitioning the Vatican to declare Kateri a saint in 1880. One hundred years later, the Vatican certified the first miracle attributed to her intercession. Last year, the second required miracle was certified by the Vatican with the healing of a flesh-eating infection in an American Indian boy in Washington State. Stanley M. Perry, a Navajo, who is active in trying to save a sacred wetland in Kansas, said that having a Mohawk honored in the Catholic Church might also heal divisions.
“She can help us by connecting us together,” he said. She may be a saint of the Catholics, he said, but as a Mohawk she can signify the sacredness of all life.
Blessed Kateri Mission Church will celebrate a service in honor of Kateri’s canonization at the cross on Bald Hill, on October 21st, up Pine Creek Road at 2:30pm. Father Michael Cloney and Father Gregory Villaescusa will officiate.
Another reason for celebration is the appointment of a new priest to serve the congregation of Blessed Kateri. It has been about ten years since a priest has been assigned to Kateri Church. Sister Patricia Carson RSM administered the church since the departure of Father Ralph Monteiro. Health Issues forced Sister Pat’s recent departure. Deacon Ken Bond and his wife Rose have been keeping the Eucharistic services going, as well as Deacon Francis Davis and his wife Mary Lou, and leaders from the congregation. The community is excited to welcome Father Gregory Villaescusa. He brings energy and enthusiasm, a lively preaching style, and a willingness to accommodate the needs of the local people. Born and raised in Southern California, his family of origin now lives in Oregon. Father Gregory will also be serving the Neuman Center at Humboldt State University and helping with the Spanish Masses at Sacred Heart in Eureka.
On November 10th, Blessed Kateri Mission Church will hold its annual Dinner Auction. Get a jump on Christmas Shopping, get some great deals and help the community with their parish expenses! Come and enjoy a delicious meal and the company of your friends and neighbors.