Catholic Tribes Celebrate St. Kateri at White Dove of the Desert

Paul Keggington

November 04, 2012

As the month of November beckons us to celebrate and remember all saints, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Carla Riach immerses us into a grand St. Kateri Tekakwitha celebration at San Xavier Mission, Tucson, AZ.

San Xavier Mission hosted a grand celebration October 20thin anticipation of Kateri Tekakwitha’s canonization. A committee of Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui from San Xavier, San Solano and Blessed Kateri Parishes planned and executed the celebration. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity were privileged to participate.

The events began with a procession from the bridge over the Santa Cruz River to the Church. With the Church Bells ringing, Spiritual Runners led the procession to the shrine set up for the statue of Kateri and all the participants were invited to join the procession around the Church grounds led by the Yaqui Matachinis.  A smoke blessing of the shrine, Mass altar and participants followed. Father Tom Frost, OFM was the main celebrant and Father Ponchie Vasquez, OFM, the homilist. O’odham Deacon Alfred Gonzales served as Deacon of the Word and proclaimed the Gospel in his language and the first reading was done in Yeome, the Pascua Yaqui language.

Following Mass there was food for everyone and entertainment provided by Aztec Dancers, Pasqua Yaqui Pascola dancers, bands, O’odham Kawli:a groups,(like square dancing), Basket Dancers, Round Dancers and a play about Kateri’s life.

All the participants received a new Holy Card of Saint Kateri that contained a new prayer released by the National Kateri Tekakwitha Conference, and a cross made by an elder. The elders of each District of the Nation made crosses of varied materials as a remembrance of the day.

I  was surprised when the San Xavier Kwali:ya group asked me to join them. They were desperate for one more woman. With lots of coaching and laughs the dances were performed.

The celebration continued with ceremonies, breakfast , Mass of Thanksgiving and Procession at Saint Kateri Parish on the 21st.

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