Canonized as the first Native American Saint
on October 21, 2012
What is the connection between Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, who lived in New York, and St. John Neumann Church in Sunbury, Ohio? If you have been inside the church at sunset during certain times of the year, you may have been fortunate enough to see the image to the left below.
As the sun sends its evening rays through the side adoration window, (located on the eastern wall by the wheat field window) there appears to be, for a brief time, an Indian girl at prayer. The stained glass images of Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II join together to reveal what some believe to be Saint Kateri.
This reflection was first noticed on the evening of the first Tenebrae service at John Neumann. One of the two parishioners seeing the image whispered. “This is a miracle! It’s Kateri Tekakwitha!
Saint Kateri was of Mohawk and Algonquin heritage. She is the patroness of ecology and the environment, known as the “Lily of the Mohawks.” But more importantly, she was deeply devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. She would spend hours before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration and prayer.
Therefore it is fitting that her “appearance” in our church is before the tabernacle of our most precious Lord. Her presence is also viewed next to the wheat field window and in the same location as the stained glass window of our Lord at the Last Supper.
Pope John Paul II , now himself a candidate for sainthood, listed Saint Kateri with Saint John Neumann in his address to the Bishops of the United States on their “Ad Limina” visit, on Friday, 28 May 1993:
“Today I express to you my prayerful hope for the spiritual renewal of the Church in America,insofar as holiness of life is of the essence of the Church’s mission and ministry. And first we must praise God for the marvelous witness of holiness which has always been in evidence among American Catholics. The names of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Saint John Neumann, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton stand out..”
In December 2011, Pope Benedict XVI advanced the sainthood cause of Saint Kateri by signing the decrees recognizing the miracles needed for her canonizations. The pope announced that she would be canonized at the Vatican Oct. 21, 2012 along with five others. Saint Kateri became the first Native American Saint.
The stained glass windows will be removed when the church is expanded, bringing to an end the “appearances” of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. However, she will not be forgotten but given a permanent place in our expanded church. A life-sized statue of the Lily of the Mohawks has been commissioned, and will be put in a place a honor.
Saint Kateri, pray for us.
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