Cherokee mission to honor St. Kateri Tekakwitha with prayer service Oct. 28
CHEROKEE — Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Cherokee will celebrate St. Kateri Tekakwitha's canonization with a special evening prayer service at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28.
Everyone is welcome to attend. The mission is located at 82 Lambert Branch Road, Cherokee, NC 28719.
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St. Kateri Tekakwitha, "Lily of the Mohawks," was elevated to sainthood Oct. 21. She is the first Native American to receive the honor of being formally recognized as a saint in the Church.
The congregation of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission on the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee has been following the events surrounding St. Kateri Tekakwitha with prayers and symbolic expressions for many years. In the 1980s, the mission meeting hall was named the "Kateri Center." Displayed there is a beautiful wooden carving of St. Kateri Tekakwitha crafted by Cherokee artist Virgil Ledford. Also, a large deerskin painted with her likeness hangs inside the church.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha
St. Kateri Tekakwitha was born in upper New York state in 1656, the daughter of a Christian Algonquin mother and a non-Christian Mohawk chief. When she was 4 years old, a smallpox epidemic swept through the Mohawk Valley and both her parents and brother died. She survived, but she was left with poor eyesight, a badly scarred face, and physical weakness. She was adopted by her uncle and his wife, and was an obedient child.
She always seemed to be different from the other teenagers in her tribe. She was attracted to the prayerful ways of the local missionary Jesuit priests and wanted to learn more about God. At the age of 20, she was baptized in Fonda, N.Y., and given the name Catherine "Kateri" in the Mohawk language.
She probably felt the tensions between the traditional ways of her people and Christianity, with which many Indians struggled. Because of the ridicule and hostility to which she was subjected upon becoming a Christian and taking a vow of perpetual virginity, Kateri fled to Caughnawaga, another Mohawk village near Montreal, Canada. In this Christian settlement, she was able to practice her religion in more peaceful surroundings.
Kateri lived out the last years of her short life there, practicing austere penance and constant prayer. She was said to have reached the highest levels of mystical union with God, and many miracles were attributed to her while she was still alive. She was devoted to praying, working and helping others until she was struck with an illness that was to claim her life.
On April 17, 1680, Kateri died at the age of 24. Her last words were, "Jesus, I love you." Shortly after her death, before the eyes of two priests and all the relatives and friends that could fit into the room, the ugly smallpox scars on her face suddenly vanished.
Kateri was declared venerable by Pope Pius XII in 1943, and In 1980 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II. Prayers for her canonization intensified worldwide. "Tekakwitha Conferences" began to be held regularly in various states that were attended by missionaries, non-clergy and Native Americans. Their main purpose was to work towards the canonization, which required a miracle attributed to Kateri Tekakwitha, and to address the social and spiritual issues of Native Americans.
Then in 2006, the prayed-for miracle happened. A basketball game injury to a 6-year-old boy in Washington state developed into a life-threatening bacterial infection. Doctors gave up hope for his recovery but family, friends and the community continued to pray for his recovery. A nun from the "Society of the Blessed Kateri" went to the hospital and placed a Kateri relic on the boy's body. Within hours the infection stopped progressing and the boy rapidly recovered. Doctors were unable to give a medical explanation.
Investigators from the Vatican researched the incident for three years, and Pope Benedict XVI approved it as a miracle attributed to Kateri's intervention. This was the sign which the Church welcomed and needed to confer sainthood.
— Maggie and Harmer Weichel
More on St. Kateri
Read more about how locals recently shared in the canonization celebration: http://www.catholicnewsherald.com/features/local/45-news/rokstories-local/2570-locals-share-in-celebration-of-canonization-of-blessed-kateri
Read more about the Oct. 21 canonization Mass: http://www.catholicnewsherald.com/features/vatican/47-news/rokstories-vatican/2567-pope-proclaims-seven-new-saints-including-st-kateri-st-marianne
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy