The 73rd Annual Tekakwitha Conference is scheduled to be held in Albany, New York, July 18-22, 2012 with a one day pilgrimage to Blessed Kateri's birthplace (Auriesville) and baptismal place (Fonda).
Blessed Kateri, known as the Lily of the Mohawks, was born to a Christian Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father in 1656 in upstate New York along the Hudson River. At age four she nearly died of smallpox, and was left with a scarred face and severely impaired eyesight.
Legend has it Kateri was raised by relatives who began to plan her marriage. Kateri opted for a Christian baptism and the pursuit of a religious life. When she was baptized by a Jesuit missionary on Easter Sunday 1676 at age 20, her relatives were not pleased, and she fled the next year to Canada,
Kateri carried a cross with her when she worked in the fields as a source for contemplation. She was 24 when she passed away; her last words were said to be, "Jesus, I love you." According to eyewitnesses, including two Jesuits and several Native Americans, the scars on her face vanished upon her death.
In June 1980, Kateri was beatified by Pope John Paul II after it was determined that during World War II, she appeared to Polish prisoners, and through her intercession they were released.
Materials documenting the last miracle needed for Kateri's canonization were sent to the Vatican in July 2009. That miracle involved the recovery of a young boy in Seattle whose face had been disfigured by flesh-eating bacteria and who almost died from the disease. He recovered completely, and the Vatican confirmed the work of a tribunal who determined there was no medical explanation.
Sylvia Mendivil Salazar, coordinator of the Native American Concerns Ministry for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, noted that it would be more accurate to call Blessed Kateri the first Native American saint born in what is now the U.S.
“St. Juan Diego is the first,” she pointed out. “People forget that he was indigenous to North America, which Mexico is part of.”
Tags: Kateri Tekawitha, 73rd Annual Tekakwitha Conference
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