CFN – As reported here on CFN, North America’s first Native saint, Kateri Tekakwitha, was canonized at the Vatican on October 21.
Understandably, not everyone who wishes to celebrate that fact was able to fly to Rome for the ceremony and related festivities.
Bishops from six dioceses in this general area (Ottawa, Gatineau, Kingston, Pembroke, Mont-Laurier and Alexandria-Cornwall) were pleased to have the services of Ottawa’s Mike Budge to coordinate busloads of pilgrims to participate in festivities a whole lot closer to home. Mike invited me to come along as a media representative and to photographically document the historic event for the affiliated dioceses.
Budge advises that: “This pilgrimage was made possible through the support of Archbishop Prendergast (Ottawa) and Bishop Gendron from the Diocese of St-Jean Longeuil. Also, a thank you to Bishop Lortie (Mont-Laurier) for his support for the Passes to the 2:30 pm Thanksgiving Mass at St-Joseph Oratory for Bus 03 (Maniwaki – Mont Laurier).”
In addition to various other groups and individuals making the trek, the official multi-diocese pilgrimage to St-Joseph’s Oratory and the Shrine of Saint Kateri was at capacity with seven full buses, each with a 56 passenger capacity.
Bus 6, our bus, departed Kingston at 6 a.m. stopping to pick up additional pilgrims in Gananoque, Brockville and Cornwall before heading to the Kateri’s shrine in Kahnawake, QC. Alexandria-Cornwall’s Bishop Marcel Damphousse travelled with us and led some of the shared prayer on the bus.
At Kahnawake, the community where Kateri spent her final years and where her remains are venerated, pilgrims had the opportunity to participate in Sunday Mass and special prayer service at the Mission of Saint Francis Xavier presided by Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast. While there some visited the attached Kateri museum and gift shop before re-boarding the bus headed for Montreal.
At 2:30 p.m. in Montreal’s Basilica of Saint Joseph’s Oratory, a special Thanksgiving Mass in honour of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha took place. Among the 32 bishops participating in the special Mass were Principal Presider Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longeuil, Archbishop Christian Lepine of Montreal, Bishop (Emeritus) Jacques Berthelet of Saint-Jean-Longeuil, the Apostolic Nuncio Bishop Pedro Lopez Quintana and Montreal’s Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte.
All 1,600 seats at the Basilica were filled as anticipated. Overflow was handled via closed-circuit simulcast to the additional 800 seats in the Crypt Church.
Various media outlets, such as Salt and Light TV and RDI provided a live telecast of the Mass of Thanksgiving.
In his homily, Bishop Gendron said: “When the Church canonizes one of her children, it is with a view to giving this new Saint to all the Baptized as a model of Christian life … When she providently met the Jesuit missionaries, her heart and soul were fertile soil, ready to welcome the Word and bear fruit … As a consequence of her Baptism, Kateri decided to dedicate herself fully to Jesus. In accordance with Saint Paul’s exhortation, she wanted to live her life “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God”. For that purpose, though she kept on serving her community, she would not accept the standards of her society and she changed some of her ways … As a true disciple of the Gospel, she tried to “do the will of our Father in Heaven” and so to live in an intimate family relationship with Jesus … Guided by the Spirit, not only did she dedicate herself to intense prayer, particularly at Eucharist, and to charitable service to those in need, but she also desired to consecrate her whole life to Jesus … As with Saint Kateri, let us be guided in all events by the Spirit…”
Don Smith reports on a variety of topics, notably good news items as well as social justice issues.