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American Indian saint honored with celebration in Shawnee

A celebration for St. Kateri Tekakwitha was held Sunday at St. Gregory's Abbey in Shawnee, Oklahoma, with activities including a gourd dance and powwow.
by Carla Hinton Published: July 15, 2013

A downpour of rain ended Sunday just as a crowd gathered at St. Gregory's Abbey to honor the Roman Catholic Church's first American Indian saint.

Abbot Lawrence Stasyszen, in his first remarks of the day, said St. Kateri Tekakwitha may have played a role in the weather as the monastic community hosted a celebration for the first feast day for St. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680).

The saint, a Mohawk Indian, “continues to work miracles, I believe, because she asked the Lord to give us a cool day for a feast day,” Stasyszen said, noting that the sun came out just as a special Mass for the saint was set to begin at the church, 1900 N MacArthur.

American Indian prayers, singing and chants were interwoven into Sunday's celebration which also included an intertribal powwow and Indian tacos. St. Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized in October 2012.

She was born in Auriesville, N.Y., on the bank of the Mohawk River and eventually fled to Canada after being persecuted for her Christian faith by some members of her tribe.

Sunday, St. Gregory's Abbey filled quickly and many people stood outside the church during a special Mass. Stasyszen estimated that about 450 people attended the celebration that began at 3 p.m. and was to extend to about 10 p.m.

The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, presided at Mass.

He said St. Kateri Tekakwitha was a role model for Christians and her distinction as the first “Native American saint from North America” is important because it emphasizes that “Jesus came for all of us.”

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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