Kateri Tekakwitha is truly a Saint for our times. Born in the 1650’s, she brought together two Native American tribes: the Algonquin and Mohawks, in her birth. She experienced the death of her parents and the horrible disease of smallpox that caused a scarring in her skin. Kateri was introduced to Catholicism through the Jesuits who adapted the Christian faith to Native American traditions and culture.
Kateri was baptized and committed her life to virginity, causing her to be rejected by her Tribe. In her person, Kateri, brought together tribes, Christianity with native spirituality, European culture with her native culture. And she paid the price by being ostracized, forcing her to become a part of a Jesuit community.
This great Native Saint witnessed the brutalities of colonialism that subjugated Native Americans and obliterated their culture. These injustices are being felt today with the revelations of the cruelty Native American children experienced at the hands of the leaders of government sponsored schools in Canada. The Catholic Church managed and staffed many of these schools, causing untold pain to so many innocents.
Jesus teaches us wisely to listen, NOT to the wise and learned, but to the least ones... the innocent and childlike. Kateri, a beautiful example of innocence, bridges cultures and religions, blessed what is good in all religious traditions. If only we could follow Kateri, what a wonderful world this would be.