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National Tekakwitha Conference Concludes

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The 70th Annual National Tekakwitha Conference concluded Saturday evening, July 4 with a dinner and talent show for the more than 500 Native American Catholics who attended the annual gathering, held at the Raleigh Convention Center.

The four day event featured a number of sessions, including one on An Introduction to Saint Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. Most of the sessions focused on Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, her life, her spirituality and the remaining steps necessary for her sainthood, with the major one a miracle of healing attributed to her.

Most Reverend Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Denver and Episcopal Moderator of the Native American Conference, presented a workshop on A Comparison of the Spiritualities of Saint Francis of Assisi and Blessed Kateri. The Archbishop noted while St. Francis came from a strong Catholic culture, Blessed Kateri was introduced to the faith and grew in it. Citing similarities, he pointed out that both experienced rejection by their families at the start of their faith journey; both have a tremendous love of the cross; and both shared a simplicity in their commitment to Christ, adding their faith was simple, but deep.

The Archbishop celebrated Mass for the conference on Friday, July 3, Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. In his homily he spoke of the significance of St. Thomas being a doubter. He said, Saint Thomas being invited by Jesus to touch his wounds, helps us to heal our doubts. Archbishop Chaput added, human beings need the experience to believe. “We are not going to be Christian unless we have the experience of Jesus,” the Archbishop said. “Today we get that experience from one another.”

Next year’s conference is scheduled to take place in Phoenix.

Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass for the gathering on July 2. (Watch or read Bishop Burbidge’s homily.)

Above: Relic of Blessed Kateri being carried during All Nations Procession.