The Feast Day of St. Kateri Tekakwitha

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St. Kateri Tekakwitha was the first Native American woman to be canonized. This was in 2012, the same year I joined the church with my ongoing attendance. It would be another two years before I came into full communion and participation.

There were many reasons that I was attracted to St. Kateri as I considered her among others while I discerned a confirmation name (ultimately choosing St. Elen of Caernarfon as many of you know).

I have always felt a connection to the Native American people and interested in their culture and spiritual practices. As kids our parents took us to the pow-wow out on Long Island with the Shinnecock Indians. It’s hard to live anywhere in New York State and not find nearby towns with Native names.

A gift from my friend in South Dakota. It is a dream catcher and it has helped me at times when I’ve had trouble sleeping. It is Native made near the sacred Black Hills.
(c)2021

Kateri was from nearby; just west of the Capital District. She was born in the village of Ossernenon, now known as Auriesville. The village is mapped out at the Martyrs Shrine. After a small pox epidemic killed her family and left her scarred, the remaining Mohawk burned the village and moved (as was done when a disease ran rampant through their homes).

They moved further west and to the other side of the river to what is now Fonda, above where the current Kateri Shrine is located in the village called Caughnawaga. The footprint of the village can be seen and can be reached either by car or by walking the trails to the village and the spring.

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My Shrine Visit

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I’m still not sure what to call my Shrine visit. Since I live so close, about an hour, it feels odd to call it a pilgrimage, but really what else was it? Retreats have leaders and in my mind, they last more than one day or part of one day. It was a few weeks ago that I went on a day pilgrimage to the Shrine of North American Martyrs in Auriesville, NY [Technically, it’s the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs]. I couldn’t believe how close it was, practically in my backyard. It is so much of what I run away from home looking for and all the things I picture a shrine should be: pastoral, bucolic, natural, historic. Should I use serene? That seems cliche but it does fit. Strolling the grounds costs nothing but time, and it’s beautiful and quiet, and yes, serene, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. It is the perfect place to think and to pray and to reflect and contemplate on anything; everything.

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