A statue of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha outside the Kateri Shrine in Fonda, N.Y.,where attendees will take part in a pilgrimage to Fonda and Auriesville, homeland of Kateri Tekakwitha as part of the 2012 Tekakwitha Conference.
When two members, Greg and Christine Williams, of the newly formed Native American Catholic Ministry of the Diocese of Fresno, attended the 67th
Annual Tekakwitha Conference in 2006, in Seattle, Washington, they had no idea that they would be witness to the presentation of the final miracle needed for Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha’s canonization.
As part of the conference, attendees were invited to a day trip to the Lummi Indian Reservation. “We were invited to attend Mass at the Lummi Community Center. And it was after the Mass, that Monsignor Paul Lenz, Vice Postulator, was handed the documents and medical records from the family of the little boy,” remembers Christine Williams.
That little boy, Jake Finkbonner, a six-year old boy of Ferndale, Washington, became infected with the flesh-eating bacteria, by cutting his lip playing basketball. No treatment could stop the infection, and Jake’s doctors told the boy’s parents that their son was going to die.
As Jake lay near death, Fr. Tim Sauer, who baptized Jake, and a longtime family friend, advised his parents Elsa and Don Finkbonner, to pray to Blessed Kateri for her intercession. Because Jake is half Lummi Indian, Sauer urged parishioners at St. Joseph's Catholic Church to appeal to a woman who lived 350 years ago. By placing a relic of Blessed Kateri by his pillow, their prayers were answered; the infection stopped, and Jake is now a healthy 11-year old.
The process for Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha’s canonization began in 1884. In January 3, 1943, she was declared venerable by Pope Pius XII. She was later beatified on June 22, 1980 by Pope John Paul II. On December 19, 2011, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints certified the miracle through her intercession, and Pope Benedict XVI decreed that the Washington state boy’s recovery from the flesh-eating bacteria that nearly killed him in 2006 is a miracle that can be attributed to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, making possible the canonization of the first Native American Saint in the Catholic Church. She is scheduled for canonization on October 21, 2012.
We ask that all of God’s people join us in acknowledging this monumental event. In particular, we invite the Native American community of the Diocese of Fresno: Big Pine Band of Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Indians
, Big Sandy Rancheria of Mono Indians
, The Miwok of Yosemite Valley, Bishop Paiute Tribe, Choinumni Tribe, Cold Springs Rancheria of Mono Indians, Dunlap Band of Mono Indians, Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Lone Pine Reservation
, North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians
, Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, Tachi Yokut of Santa Rosa Rancheria, Table Mountain Rancheria, Tule River Reservation, Wukchumni Tribe, the California Yaqui Association, and those of all other tribal affiliation.
Let us all celebrate that one of our own is recognized for her love of the Creator and will pave the way for other Native People in the Catholic Church!
For more information on the 2012 Tekakwitha Conference “Walking in Her Footsteps in Kateri Country,” visit the Tekakwitha Conference website: http://tekconf.org.
The Official Canonization Pilgrimage is being planned by the Black and Indian Mission Office (Fr. Paysse's Office - www.blackandindianmission.org
Jake Finkbonner today.
Saint Kateri, Pray for us!
Note: A special Mass of Celebration will be offered following her Canonization. More information will be made available in the near future!