Community Celebrates Canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha
By S. Victoria Marie Forde
Sounds of flutes and drums filled the Motherhouse chapel Sunday, Oct. 21 as we gathered in silence to celebrate the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha with churches around the world. In the Native American tradition S. Cheryl Grenier helped us bless ourselves with the smoke of sweet grass, a purifying ritual, instead of with holy water. S. Diana Durling and her daughter, Kathy, prepared the artistic arrangement surrounding St. Kateri’s picture next to the altar.
At the beginning of Mass especially honored were Sisters with Native American bloodlines, Sisters Diana Durling and Cheryl Grenier, but any others were invited to stand and be recognized [as well as any with Hawaiian heritage in honor of S. Marianne Cope, also being canonized Sunday].
Soft drumming by S. Cheryl accompanied S. Terry Thorman’s compositions of musical responses. S. Kateri Maureen Koverman, whose committee planned the liturgy, led the powerful intercessions. The Congregation moved in the four directions as S. Diana Durling led the Prayer to the Four Directions by Chief Seattle before a hymn ended the joyful liturgy.
From the time the Sisters arrived in the West after the Civil War, they championed the rights of Native Americans. S. Blandina Segale who had helped a chief’s son and wife was called upon to settle an angry dispute between the tribe and a group of men involving murder. She judged in favor of the Indians. Among the many Sisters who have worked with the Native Americans are Sisters Bernadette Kambeitz, Patricia Cruise, the late Rose Marie Hewitt, Marge Kloos and Carol Wirtz. Presently in Guatemala S. Sarah Mulligan works in many areas with the Mayan indigenous people.