On Saturday, October 27, 2012, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge celebrated the Canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, one of seven new saints proclaimed by the Holy Father in a ceremony in St. Peter’s Square on October 21. Bishop Burbidge offered Mass at St. Mary, Mother of the Church in Garner, with six priests concelebrating.
Born in 1656 to a Catholic Algonquin mother and a Mohawk chief, St. Kateri was badly scarred during a smallpox epidemic that killed her parents and younger brother. She was baptized in 1676 and given the name Kateri. Known to carry a cross in her hands, she taught children and cared for the sick until her death in 1680 at age 24. Her last words were Iesos konoronkwa: “Jesus, I love you.”
In his homily, the Bishop spoke of St. Kateri’s example, particularly during the Year of Faith, as a help in practicing “faith in the midst of rejection and suffering, and faith in the midst of worldly distractions.”
“After her conversion and baptism,” the Bishop explained, “Kateri became the village outcast,” yet she persevered. “May she help us to be radiant with faith, especially in the midst of our crosses.” In addition, the Bishop continued, “Kateri devoted her life to service, especially to the care of the sick. Yet, she always kept as her highest priority the need to remain close with God.”
Prior to Mass, dancers of Aztec descent performed on the church grounds, and after Mass they danced again at a reception in the parish hall. Fr. Marcos Leon, Pastor of St. Ann Church in Clayton, and Diocesan liaison to Native American Catholics, spoke of attending the Canonization ceremony in Rome.
“It was inspiring to see so many people celebrating the life of St. Kateri,” he said, noting the large delegations from both the U.S. and Canada. “It was a special day for Native American Catholics throughout North America.” North Carolina has the largest Native American population -- more than 80,000 -- of any state east of the Mississippi River.
Read Bishop Burbidge’s homily
Watch Bishop Burbidge’s homily:
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Above: Diocesan faithful attending the Mass to celebrate the Canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge at celebration of Mass with concelebrants Msgr. David D. Brockman; Fr. Mark Reamer, OFM; Msgr. Jeffrey A. Ingham; Fr. Joseph DiSilva; Fr. David Chiantella; and Fr. Marcos Leon.
Above: Fr. Marcos Leon, Diocesan liaison to Native American Catholics, with dancers of Aztec descent.