Kateri or Catherine was born near Auriesville, NY, the site of the martyrdom of several Jesuits just ten years earlier. A small pox epidemic killed her parents and left her disfigured and almost blind. As she grew up, Kateri remembered the basics of the faith that her Christian mother had taught her and in 1675 she asked a Jesuit missionary to baptize her. As we pray for volunteers in mission territories, let us ask Bl. Kateri to pray with us that they may become holy, authentic witnesses to the love of Christ. Our reflection is from part of a speech that Pope John Paul II gave to a group of Native people who traveled to Rome in 1980 for the beatification ceremony.
All of us are inspired by the example of this young woman of faith who died three centuries ago this year. We are all edified by her complete trust in the providence of God, and we are encouraged by her joyful fidelity to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a true sense, the whole Church, together with you, declares in the words of Saint Paul: "Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever". (Eph. 3:20-21 ) The Church has declared to the world that Kateri Tekakwitha is blessed, that she lived a life on earth of exemplary holiness and that she is now a member in heaven of the Communion of Saints who continually intercede with the merciful Father on our behalf.
Her beatification should remind us that we are all called to a life of holiness, for in Baptism, God has chosen each one of us "to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence". (Eph. 1:4) Holiness of life-union with Christ through prayer and works of charity - is not something reserved to a select few among the members of the Church. It is the vocation of everyone.
My brothers and sisters, may you be inspired and encouraged by the life of Blessed Kateri. Look to her for an example of fidelity; see in her a model of purity and love; turn to her in prayer for assistance. May God bless you as He blessed her. May God bless all the North American Indians of Canada and the United States.