Pilgrims join Alexandria-Cornwall’s Bishop for trek to Kahnawake’s Kateri Shrine & St. Joseph’s Oratory

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.

Ottawa’s Archbishop Prendergast Presided at Parish Mass and Prayer Service for Pilgrims at St. Francis Xavier Mission.  Joining him at The Lord’s Table are Deacon Ron Boyer the Canadian Vice-postulator for the canonization of Kateri and St. Francis’ Pastor Fr. Raymond Esprit.

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).”

Mohawk Choir at St. Francis Xavier Mission

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.

Bishops Damphousse and Prendergast with pilgrims praying before the tomb of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in Kahnawake

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.

32 bishops are joined by priests and laity for Mass of Thanksgiving at the Basilica Church

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.

Exchange of Peace

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…”

Recessional and bus ride home.

Don Smith reports on a variety of topics, notably good news items as well as social justice issues. 



  1. This is absolutely a wonderful article. I cannot begin to realize just how talented and gifted Don Smith is in his reporting skills and his expertise in photography.

    I do not say this on a whim. I say this with complete honesty, complete truth that Mr. Don Smith is one of the best media professionals that I have met.

    This news report above is beyond perfect. Thank you Don for a 200 % job well done.
    Mike Budge

  2. Don, such beautiful coverage! Your photography is so clear!

    Thank you for bringing us on the pilgrimage … visually!

    Keep up the great work!

  3. I went at 12:30 from Cornwall with CWL members across the area. It was a beautiful service at the Oratory at 2 p.m., but by the time we got to her Shrine in Kahnawake it was dark … about 6 p.m. Some were hoping to see the village but couldn’t. Oh well, it will provide us reason to visit again.

  4. Excellent coverage Don!!!! The photography is superb!!!

  5. Thank you Don for such a beautiful coverage!

    I had a wonderful day…with wonderful people.

    Thank you Mike Budge and Nicole Grenier for organazing
    this amazing pilgrimage.

    God bless

  6. Thank you so much for the beautiful photos and article. It was a pleasure to view them, especially since I could not make the Pilgrimage. You really captured the spirit of the day!

  7. Fr. Fred Power, editor of the Messenger, says he owes his priesthood calling to Kateri’s inspiration. It is wonderful that she finally has been canonized.

    Thanks for sharing your pilgrimage.

  8. Thanks very much, Don, for a wonderful record of our Sunday pilgrim journey. Kudos to Mike Budge for an excellent job, well done!

    +Terrence Prendergast, S.J.
    Archeveque d’
    Archbishop of

  9. Thanks to all the pilgrims and especially to Archbishop Prendergast S.J for celebrating with us at the Mission of Saint Francis Xavier and the Shrine of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. We were blessed by your presence! May Saint Kateri Tekakwitha continue to intercede for you near to the heart of Jesus Christ.

  10. I was truly moved by the spirit of prayer and devotion to St. Kateri among the pilgrims. Thank you Mike and your team for all your efforts in organizing this pilgrimage. Thanks to you Don, we are able to keep this memorable day alive with the help of your wonderful photos and article.

  11. Thanks to you Bishop Marcel Damphousse and all the other Bishops’s and priests who were present at the Shrine on the 4th of Novemember. Your presence was a blessing to us all at the Church of Saint Francis Xavier and the Shrine of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. May the First North American Indigenous Saint, Kateri Tekakwitha intercede for us all near to the heart of Jesus.

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