Sisters, associates, oblates, and friends gathered at the Kateri Tekakwitha Monastery Shrine last Sunday afternoon for a special prayer service celebrating the canonization of a new Saint. The statue of Kateri Tekakwitha was donated in 1999 by +Mrs. Charlotte Renier who was +Sister Generosa Martin’s sister. The gift was prompted by gratitude. Mrs. Renier credited Kateri for saving her son Ellesworth Renier, who had gone missing during World War II. Present at Sunday’s celebration were several members of the Renier family, including Mrs. Renier’s son, George, and his wife Patricia and her grandchildren, Colleen, Hugh, Mary, Judi, and their spouses.
Kateri Tekakwitha was born in New York state 1656 to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave to her a sense of the living God. She survived a smallpox epidemic, which left her orphaned, almost blind, and with a pockmarked face. She was baptized at twenty years of age on Easter Sunday and, to escape persecution, she fled to Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal. There she worked, faithful to the traditions of her people, although renouncing their religious convictions until her death at the age of twenty-four. Leading a simple life, Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity. She is known as the “Lily of the Mohawks” because of her saintly conduct. She died on April 17, 1680 at Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada, and is buried there.
Kateri was declared Venerable by Pope Pius XII on January 3, 1943. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 22, 1980, and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012. She is the fourth North American Native American to be venerated and the first North American Native American woman to be canonized.
Photos by Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau