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Native American Saint: Pope Makes History

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History has been made now that Pope Benedict XVI has named the first-ever Native American Saint.

Kateri Tekakwitha, of the Mohawk tribe, is said to have devoted her life to God and is being recognized by the Catholic church with the canonization, and a young American boy says prayers in her name helped him recover from a horrific disease.

Jake Finkbonner was just five years old when he contracted a deadly flesh-eating disease which affected his face and put him in the hospital. When the family’s pastor suggested praying in Kateri’s name, the family did so, hoping anything would work. Suddenly, Jake’s symptoms began to clear up, and soon the doctors were at a loss to describe how it had happened. Jake and his family, however, are sure that the newly appointed saint had something to do with it, and were excited to be invited to the celebration in Vatican City for Kateri and five other new saints last week after the Church declared his recovery a miracle.

“I’m pretty darn excited to go,” Jake, now 12-years old, said. “It will be the trip of a lifetime.”

The induction of a Native American into sainthood is groundbreaking, and is being recognized by the Catholic Church as such. Kateri is described as a rare find for the Church, who say she helped bring Catholicism and the teachings of Jesus back to her people.

“She’s seen very much as a bridge” between Native culture and Christianity,” said the Rev. Jim Martin, a Jesuit priest.

Indeed, the pope himself praised Kateri, who lived in the mid-1600s, for devoting her life to her faith.

“Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer, and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity,” the pope said.

However, the image the Church has provided of Kateri is not one the Mohawks are fond of, saying that it makes their people seem divided. They also maintain that the Church is using Kateri to brighten their image a bit in the aftermath of so many scandals.

“I disagree with the characterizations of the ‘other Mohawks’ in the Jesuit accounts of Kateri,” Chaz Kader, a Mohawk journalist, said. “The contrast of good Mohawks and bad Mohawks still is affecting our people.”

The Mohawk people have struggled for decades against harsh criticism and stereotypes for wanting to hold on to their traditional way of life–including forming their own government–which is often associated with not paying taxes and smuggling goods across the border. These so-called “bad” Mohawks are also associated with shunning Kateri, while the “good” ones are said to have gone to Rome to celebrate her.

Native American Saint: Pope Makes History
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  • timothy canezaro

    This whole good Mohawk/bad Mohawk converstion does nothing to further any useful dialogue alolng. Kateri was lifted to the highest honor the church bestows because she was baptized, took a sacramental vow of virginity, and otherwise did good thin gs with her short life, was healed upon death, and continues to Intercede on behalf of the prayer and humble of heart.
    All the rest doesn’t really matter. Kateri, pray for us all!

  • timothy canezaro

    This whole good Mohawk/bad Mohawk converstion does nothing to further any useful dialogue alolng. Kateri was lifted to the highest honor the church bestows because she was baptized, took a sacramental vow of virginity, and otherwise did good things with her short life, was healed upon death, and continues to Intercede on behalf of the prayerful and humble of heart.
    All the rest doesn’t really matter. Kateri, pray for us all!

  • http://www.ne2ss.org Harlan Pruden

    By the canonization of a Native American by the catholic church, I firmly believe it is way to for this church try to restore and remain relevancy in Native communities…… while not having to address, acknowledge or to do anything about the history of US and Canadian Indian Boarding Schools.

    Schools where our children were ripped from their reservations and families and place in these government-sponsored, church run-schools where they had they Indianness beaten out of them. There are so many cases of physical, emotional, and sexual violence and abuse at the hand of this school (and church) officials. As a Native community organizer, much of my work is undo damage from what these schools and churches have done to my people.

    In the incredible book, “Stolen from Our Embrace‚ÄĚ by Fournier and Crey, ‚Äúwill challenge readers to rethink the illusion painted by government about how effective child welfare policies are. Through the use of heart-wrenching personal testimonies, it reaffirms the systemic racism and ignorance among non-aboriginal people dealing with child welfare. This book will serve as an invaluable source to cultivate the restoration of aboriginal people’s humanity and dignity as we seek to control our own destiny,” said Viola Thomas, President, United Native Nations. A must read to begin to understand what the Native people of this land have experienced by government and churches!

    By the canonization of a Native American by the catholic church, I firmly believe it is way to for this church try to restore and retain its relevancy (which I would called the colonization) in Native communities…… while not having to address, acknowledge or to do anything about the history of US and Canadian Indian Boarding Schools.

    Schools where our children were ripped from their reservations and families and place in these government-sponsored, church run-schools where they had they Indianness beaten out of them. There are so many cases of physical, emotional, and sexual violence and abuse at the hand of school (and church) officials. As a Native community organizer, much of my work is undo the damage from what these schools, churches that were fully supported by government policy have done to my people.

    In the incredible book, “Stolen from Our Embrace‚ÄĚ by Fournier and Crey, ‚Äúchallenge[s] readers to rethink the illusion painted by government about how effective child welfare policies are. Through the use of heart-wrenching personal testimonies, it reaffirms the systemic racism and ignorance among non-aboriginal people dealing with child welfare. This book will serve as an invaluable source to cultivate the restoration of aboriginal people’s humanity and dignity as we seek to control our own destiny,” said Viola Thomas, President, United Native Nations.

    A must read to begin to understand what the Native people of this land have experienced by government and churches!

  • http://adeshola.fatai@yahoo.com MR ADESHOLA FATAI ABEY

    about visa lottery

  • timothy canezaro

    The fact remains that Saint Kateri learned to pray the catholic way through her mother, was baptized at 20 years old, took a vow of perpetual virginity, and lead a life dedicated to helping the elderly and sick and praying and receiving the catholic sacrament of Eucharist as much as possible. The Holy Spirit working through Holy Mother Church raised Kateri up 300 years after her death because the time is right. I visit the poorest county and reservation in this country and there is a Kateri prayer circle there in Eagle butte as well as many that know about her and support her as a positive influence on a reservation where negative people often do much damage to the vulnerable and children. Kateri keep praying for us and helping us!

  • timothy canezaro

    Can assure everyone out there that Kateri becoming a saintis the work of numerous catholics over the years praying for her sainthood, 3 popes, a miracle upon her death 300 years ago and a 6 year old Lummi native catholic boy healed by her. There is no one person in some back rrom trying to figure out ways to make the catholic chuch look good or whatever. Things happen over centuries in the catholic church.

  • Vincent Dalton

    It is certain that the two are in Heaven! Padre Pio of Pietrelcina said that President J.F.Kennedy, saved his soul!

  • Vincent Dalton

    Padre Pio believed that “there is another chance of saving the soul, after the Clinical Death!” Consequently,it is reasonable to conclude that vast numbers of Native Americans, have been saved and are waiting to meet us, in Heaven!

  • Jonathan

    This is blasphemy, just to inform fellow Christians. The article even says “prayers in her name”. I know the Catholic Church says nobody worships saints, but praying to Saints is a sin.

    The Bible clearly says Jesus Christ is the “sole intercessor”. This is the Roman pagan “patron deity” system reborn as “patron saints”. Same with the College of Cardinals which is the same as the College of Priests under the old pagan system.

    There is literally zero biblical evidence to support creating either of those institutions.

    • timothy canezaro

      Well. No. You are coming off as exceedingly ego driven. Saint Kateri chose to be baptized and took a vow of perpetual virginity much as religous men and woman do. The church is a universal one and many cultures feed into and make us stronger fulfilling Jesus intent on the gospel going to the ends of the earth. You obviously are not catholic and to disrespect our faith’s living traditions is wrong as we aren’t attacking you. Our Saints are recognized for extraordinary lives led in Jesus Christ. Our Saints pray for us even now in heaven. In Jake Finkbonner’s case, prayers were answered. Godbless

    • timothy canezaro

      Sir. You forget yourself. You are addressing a catholic crowd. Kateri chose to become a catholic at 20 like her mother, took a vow of perpetual virginity in the church. She was catholic. And catholic, native american and others, celebrate the amazing life of prayer and faith she led.
      As catholics we believe saints are in heaven now still praying for us. As catholics we have a 2000 year old tradition that dates back to Christ’s life and many great men and woman have come along and every so often they get recognized in this special way. If you are not catholic, you should respect our beliefs as we respect other christians.

  • timothy canezaro

    Jake Finkbonner then 6 was playing a basketball game. He fell and a tooth pierced his lip and by the next day he was fighting for his life. Near death and bringing in a Priest to perform last rites at Jake’s doctors urging his family was ready to let him go. You can see pictures of Jake at his worst on his website. Jake is a Lummi living on a reservation in washington and his family is catholic. Their parish priest suggested that the parish send special Intercessory prayers to Blessed Kateri to help heal him. A catholic native american nun Sister Kater along with Jake’s mother put a Kateri bone relic on the sick boy and pray to the father, son, & holy spirit. Well…the rest is history and culminated with Jake and his family receiving communion from pope benedict at the canonization mass for the 7 new saints including Kateri on october 21st. Annother interesting saint to consider is the matryr Saint Pedro Calunsgod.

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