When St. Paul wrote his second letter to the people of Corinth he said: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints, for the sake of Christ, for when I am weak, then I am strong." No person lived out these words of St. Paul any better than the saint whose feast we celebrate on Saturday, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, known as the Lily of the Mohawks. Born in 1656 in what is now Auriesville, N.Y., her mother was a Christian Algonquin who was raised among the French at Three Rivers, Canada. Taken captive by the Iroquois, she was made the wife of a pagan chief of the Mohawks. Of this marriage two children were born, Kateri and a younger brother. At the age of four the girl was taken into the home of an uncle when her mother, father and brother all died in a smallpox epidemic. In 1667 she met her first Christian missionaries who had been given lodging by her uncle. Although impressed by these Jesuit priests, either through shyness or fear of her uncle, she kept from seeking any instruction. In 1675, however, she met Rev. Jaques de Lamberville who instructed her in the faith and baptized her on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1676, giving her the name of Kateri (Katherine).
Her conversion and exemplary life stirred so much opposition that she was advised to flee to the Christian Indian village on the St. Lawrence River. After a trek of nearly 200 miles she arrived at Sault Saint Marie. In October 1677 she received First Communion and for the next three years under the instruction of an older Iroquois woman, she led a life of great austerity and charity. On March 25, 1679 she gave herself completely to Christ and she died on April 17, 1680 at the age of 24. In 1990 she was declared "Blessed" the first step in the process of canonization, thus becoming the first native American to be so honored. She was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012.
Fr John R. Mulvehill