There are an estimated 680,000 American Indian Catholics in the U.S. For those who wish to adore Blessed Kateri this weekend but can’t travel to the Vatican, New York’s Mohawk Valley will be an important gathering place. Kateri , a Mohawk Indian, was born in Ossernenon, which today is Auriesville, New York, in 1656. For centuries the Roman Catholic Church and its missionaries have interacted with the Mohawk people. Their website notes that the Saint Regis Mohawks, as their name reflects, have had a close association with the Church for more than 200 years. While some aspects of that association were not very positive, one particular part of the relationship is a source of pride and inspiration for most Mohawks. More than 300 years ago a young Mohawk woman embraced the Catholic faith and carried out works of charity and benevolence among her people for most of her very short life.
Her name was Kateri Tekakwitha. Kateri, the Iroquois form of Catherine (her baptized name), means pure and Tekakwitha translated means putting things in order. Her very name signifies the mission for which her life and death are now remembered. The poor health which plagued her throughout her life and caused her violent pain effected her death in 1680 at the tender age of 24 years. The Roman Catholic Church has honored Kateri Tekakwitha for her devotion to Christ and her commitment to charity and chastity. The present day Mohawk Catholics have prayed and worked to one day see Kateri canonized as a saint, and they have been successful.
On Sunday, October 21, this success will be celebrated as two distinctly different but nearby shrines will be welcoming the faithful to the Mohawk Valley.
At the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, in Auriesville, which was built to honor slain Jesuits, a canonization day celebration will be held on Sunday, October 21. The Visitor Center will be open 10am – 6pm, offering a Gift Shop and food. The Saints of Auriesville Museum will be open 10am-5 pm with Kateri life exhibits in art, posters, artifacts, baskets, bead work, interpretive text, and also documentaries about her showing all day. An art exhibit by Bob Renaud, whose Kateri work is in the Vatican collection, will run from 10am – 2pm. A Mass of Thanksgiving will be held at 2pm in the Coliseum — the circular church that seats 6,500 people. Relics of St. Kateri are there, as well as in the Kateri Chapel. Also, as ICTMN reported earlier, a A life-size oil portrait of Kateri Tekakwitha by artist Kevin Gordon will be featured.
For further info on the celebration at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, click here.
Across the river from Auriesville is the National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine, which is focused on devotion to Kateri. According to the shrine’s website, “The original Caughnawaga, here in present day Fonda, NY, is the site of the village or ‘castle’ where Kateri lived most of her life. It is the site of the only fully excavated Mohawk village of that era. Nearby, the holy spring, whose water was used to baptize her, still flows here. Many pilgrims claim cures after drawing its crystal clear water and praying through the intercession of Blessed Kateri.”
This shrine’s canonization day presentation on Sunday will include an opening prayer and dedication at 10am, followed by a procession with the Relic of St. Kateri via the Stations of the Cross to the Pavilion, where at 10.30am a concelebrated Mass of Gratitude will be held. Please note that due to the limitation of their parking lot and the size of their facility, the shrine is only allowed a maximum of 400 people. After that number is reached they will reluctantly have to limit admittance.
For further details on the celebration at the National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine, click here.