On Sunday November 4, 2012, one week after Pope Benedict XVI’s canonization of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha at the Vatican, families from across California’s Central Valley came together in St. John’s Cathedral to celebrate. Bishop Armando Ochoa of the Diocese of Fresno presided over the mass in honor of the very first Catholic Native American saint.
Greg and Christine Williams of the Diocese of Fresno’s Native American Catholic Ministry organized the Mass of Celebration. Greg and Christine, were among the 700 Native Americans representing tribes from around the United States who traveled to the Vatican to be present at the Mass of Canonization.
Attending today’s celebration in honor of one of my most beloved intercessors, was a true pleasure. I’ve had a deep devotion to Saint Kateri since writing about her for my work on the saints, A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. While being present at the actual canonization last week was not possible, worshipping today among people who love Kateri so greatly was a special treat.
The Mass had a few very memorable moments, planned to bring some of the culture of our local Native American brothers and sisters to this extraordinary occasion. Local families attended dressed in full regalia. The Mass opened with a beautiful procession (including a smudging ceremony). Native American music was provided by the Cloudwood Singers and Daniel and Maggie Roybal and a ceremonial “Prayer to the Four Directions” ended our worship together.
During his homily, Bishop Armando Ochoa preached on the relevance of today’s gospel passage from Mark 12 to the life of Saint Kateri. He reminded us that Saint Kateri remained perpetually faithful to her immense love for Jesus Christ and her rich spirit of prayer. Particularly devoted to the young and elderly of her community, Saint Kateri offers for us an object lesson on the Gospel commandments to “to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
Attending Mass today with those devoted to Saint Kateri reminded me of a quote attributed to the Lily of the Mohawks: “Who can tell me what is most pleasing to God that I may do it?” As I continue to learn more about the life, love and legacy of this amazing young woman, I strive to imitate the charity and sanctity with which she filled her short life.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the earthly life of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and for those devoted to continuing her spirituality here among us. May she be for me today an intercessor and a constant reminder to love you with all my heart and to share my love more freely with those around me. St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us!