THE PASTORíS DESK
By Fr. Terry Kerner
On July 14th, we
celebrate the feast of the "Lily of the
Mohawks." The daughter of an Algonquin mother and a
Mohawk chief she was born in 1656. When she was four years
old her parents and brother died of smallpox epidemic.
Kateri survived, but the disease left her scarred and her
sight impaired. She was named "Tekakwitha,"
which means "she who bumps into things."
Kateri's uncle took her in, and although she wanted to
practice the religion of her mother, her uncle discouraged
her. Despite tragedy, she was a devout girl at a young
age, often building crosses from sticks in the woods. Her
uncle gave his permission for her to become a Christian as
long as she did not leave the village. There, she put up
with ridicule because of her faith. When she was 18, she
began secret instruction in the Catholic faith with French
missionaries. Her commitment to Christianity and vow of
virginity was misunderstood and ridiculed by her fellow
villagers. She escaped to a nearby mission, where she
attended daily Mass, taught the children, and cared for
the sick and the elderly.
After a time, in 1676,
Kateri fled to Canada where she made her first Communion
on Christmas, 1677. Like St. Kateri, God invites us to be
faithful to our commitments of faith and to always respond
in love. Although the last years of her life were
difficult, Kateri was known for her kindness and good
She died on April 17,
1680 and was canonized by Pope Benedict in 2012. St.
Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American woman to be