By Sisters Judith Oliver and Suzanne Lachapelle
The entire Native American community rejoices in the church’s public recognition and canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint.
The Penobscot Nation celebrated Kateri’s canonization with a special liturgy on Saturday, October 20, 2012, in the historic St. Ann’s Church on Indian Island, Maine. This is the site where, in 1878, Frances Warde made the first foundation of the Sisters of Mercy ministering among the Indians in the Northeast. Sisters Judy Oliver and Sue Lachapelle, presently ministering on Indian Island, along with tribal members prepared this special event. The liturgy began with an elder performing a smudging ceremony, a purification of the space and participants. Music reverberated with Indian chanting and drumming by three Penobscots and the choir sang songs in both English and Penobscot, including a hymn honoring Kateri.
Following the liturgy, participants processed to the parish hall where the celebration continued with a bountiful meal. One highlight was a soup prepared by the former chief. The room was filled with friendship and the spirit of Kateri.
St. Kateri, shower your Indian people with blessings
of health, healing, and tribal longevity.
(Pictured above: The altar at St. Ann’s Church on Indian Island, Maine is decorated for special liturgy celebrating canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha.