Native Americans feel 'pulled up' by Blessed Kateri becoming a saint
Published: October 18, 2012
LA CROSSE, Wis. (CNS) -- Since 1997, Eleanor St. John has lived for the day when one of her greatest heroes would be recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church -- Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. That year St. John attended her first Tekakwitha Conference, named for the young maiden known as the "Lily of the Mohawks." Blessed Kateri, the daughter of a Christian Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father in upstate New York, will be canonized Oct. 21 at the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI, along with several others. She will become the first Native American saint. "Immediately after the announcement last December that she would be canonized," St. John said, "Mass was being celebrated all over the country in celebration. People were crying in gratitude and joy. It makes me a little teary-eyed." A parishioner at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral in La Crosse, St. John is a member of the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska. She and other pilgrims from the diocese were heading to Rome for the canonization. "I know she's the patroness of the environment and ecology, but I call her the saint of Native Americans," she told The Catholic Times, La Crosse's diocesan newspaper, in an interview before her departure. "We love her and are so happy she is put up in this different realm because of her sainthood. We feel pulled up with it because there's so much emotion in the history of the different tribes throughout the United States that they've had to suffer and go through as the U.S. developed." In her own life, St. John said, that Blessed Kateri has inspired a greater love for Jesus and his sacrifice for the world. "I am definitely encouraged by the faith that she had and her aspiration to be with Jesus and working for him," she said. "She had a strong devotion to the cross and the suffering Christ made on the cross. I also encourage my daughters to think of her as a role model to help them stay pure and focused on the cross."
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