BISMARCK — The Diocese of Bismarck is organizing a celebration of St. Kateri Tekakwitha
that will include leaders of the state’s tribal nations and commemorate one of the Catholic Church’s newest North American saints.
Beginning Saturday, July 13 all are welcome at the James Henry Community Center at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck. The evening’s activities will begin with a grand entry at 6 p.m. (which will include a parade of colors celebrating life) and Native American dancers at 7 p.m., performing in different categories such as traditional, fancy, grass, and jingle. The evening will conclude with eucharistic adoration and prayers for healing.
Activities will continue on Sunday, July 14, beginning with a presentation on St. Kateri by Mark Thiel, an archivist of native Catholic collections at Marquette University and co-author of “Native Footsteps: Along the Path of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.” Mass will be held at 2 p.m. and will be followed by a round dance, or a dance that includes all native and non-native people that celebrates life and harmony.
“This event is meant to bring all people in our state and region together as we celebrate our sister, St. Kateri, and respond to the universal call to holiness in our lives as she did,” said Michelle Duppong, coordinator of the Year of Faith for the Bismarck Diocese. “We want to come together as the body of Christ in unity.”
St. Kateri was born in 1656 in New York and suffered from scarring on her face and poor eyesight as a result of a smallpox epidemic that killed her parents and brother when she was four years old. Raised by her relatives who were members of the Mohawk tribe, St. Kateri was baptized at age 18, moved to a Jesuit mission near Montreal and joined other native Christian converts in a life of faith and prayer. She died during Holy Week at the age of 24 and her smallpox scars disappeared from her body shortly after her death. Kateri, known as the Lily of the Mohawks because of her purity, was beatified in 1980 by Blessed John Paul II and canonized a saint by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Oct. 21, 2012.
“St. Kateri has been canonized a saint by the Church as a testament of her sanctity so that all may look to her as a model of holiness. We need heroes in the faith to look up to and follow as we all strive to be saints,” Duppong explained. “Her story should inspire each of us.”
The St. Kateri Tekakwitha Celebration is free of charge. Those interested are asked to register
prior to the event at bismarckdiocese.com under the “Events” tab. For more information, call 877-405-7435.