Lily of the Mohawks

14 Jul

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the beloved “Lily of the Mohawks.”

She was born the daughter of a Mohawk warrior in what is now upstate New York in the mid-17th century. Her mother died from small pox when she was only four years old. Kateri survived the diseased, but it disfigured her face and impaired her vision.

As a young woman she was converted and baptized by a Jesuit missionary. She was shunned and abused by her relatives because of her faith. Yet she was undeterred in her devotion to Christ crucified and to the Eucharist.

This young woman of God became known for her deep spirituality, her embrace of suffering, and her care for the sick and elderly. She died at the tender age of 24.

When Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1980, Kateri became the first native American to be formally declared “Blessed.”

Blessed Kateri is especially known here in Kansas City for lending her name to Camp Tekakwitha, a Catholic adventure camp at Prairie Star Ranch that connects kids and families with the heart of Jesus Christ, offering prayer and Scripture study as well as an array of exciting outdoor activities.

If Blessed Kateri is the “Lily of the Mohawks,” perhaps this wholesome youth outreach could be called the “Lily of the Jayhawks.” May she continue to intercede for Camp Tekakwitha and for the youth of our Archdiocese.

I’d like to end this post with the opening prayer for today’s Mass in honor of Blessed Kateri, which in my opinion is especially beautiful:

Lord God,
you called the virgin, blessed Kateri Tekakwitha,
to shine among the Indian people
as an example of innocence of life.
Through her intercession,
may all peoples of every tribe, tongue, and nation,
having been gathered into your Church,
proclaim your greatness
in one song of praise.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

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