Tekakwitha Youth Ministry - About Us

Our Mission Statement:

The Tekakwitha Youth Ministry is a gathering of young people
in a fun environment in order to fortify our Catholic faith by action

Who are we:

The former “Agawam Youth Group” now known as “Tekakwitha Youth Ministry” was named after Saint Tekakwitha because of her devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ, and her unwavering faith even under harsh persecution from her people.

We are in hopes in having a group of youth, joining together and following Kateri, ideas and practices.
So we too will be able to build our Faith in Jesus Christ both in our everyday lives with our spiritual and active works. We also believe in actively working with the gifts granted to us by the Holy Spirit, with community service,
Lay ministries, and spiritual studies.

Who is Saint Katari Tekakwitha:

She is called "The Lily of the Mohawks," the "Mohawk Maiden," the "Pure and Tender Lily," the "Flower among True Men," the "Lily of Purity" and "The New Star of the New World." Her tribal neighbors called her "the fairest flower that ever bloomed among the redmen."

Kateri Tekakwitha was the daughter of Kenneronkwa, a Mohawk chief, and Tagaskouita, a Roman Catholic Algonquian. Tekakwitha was born in the Mohawk fortress of Ossernenon near present-day Auriesville, New York. Kateri's mother was baptized and educated by French missionaries in Trois-Rivičres, like many Abenaki converts. She was captured there at the start of a war with the Iroquois and taken to the Mohawk homeland. When Kateri was four, smallpox swept through Ossernenon, and Tekakwitha was left with poor eyesight, and unsightly scars on her face. This outbreak took the lives of her brother and both her parents. She was then adopted by her uncle, who was a chief of the Turtle Clan. As the adopted daughter of the chief, many young men sought her hand in marriage, in spite of her disfigured face. She realized that this was only for political purposes and was disgusted by the idea of a loveless marriage. During this time she took an interest in Christianity. Her mother was Christian and had given Kateri a rosary, but her uncle took it away and discouraged conversion.

In 1666, Alexandre de Prouville burned down Ossernenon. Kateri's clan then settled on the north side of the Mohawk River, near what is now Fonda, New York. While living here, at the age of 20, Tekakwitha was baptized on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1676, by Father Jacques de Lamberville, a Jesuit. At her baptism, she took the name Kateri, a Mohawk pronunciation of the French name Catherine, after Catherine of Siena. Tekakwitha literally means "she moves things."

Unable to understand her new-found religious zeal, members of the tribe often chastised her, which she took as a testament to her faith. Kateri exercised physical mortification as a route to sanctity. She occasionally put thorns upon her sleeping mat and lay on them, while praying for the conversion and forgiveness of her kinsmen. Piercing the body to draw blood was a traditional practice of the Hurons, Iroquois, as well as the Mohawks. Kateri believed that offering her blood was in imitation of Christ's crucifixion. She changed this practice to stepping on burning coals when her close friend, Marie Therese, expressed her disapproval. Because she was persecuted by her Native American kin, which included threats to her life, she fled to an established community of Native American Christians in Kahnawake, Quebec, where she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance, and care for the sick and aged. In 1679, she took a vow of chastity. A year later, on April 17, 1680, Kateri died at the age of 24. Her last words are said to have been "Jesus, I love You!" Saintly powers were attributed to Tekakwitha soon after her death. Although we do not know what the Catholic faith meant to Kateri, or other Aboriginal women, we do know that the structure of Catholicism opened up new opportunities for some.

Tradition holds that Kateri's scars vanished at the time of her death, revealing a woman of immense beauty. It has been claimed that at her funeral many of the ill who attended were healed. It is also held that she appeared to two different individuals in the weeks following her death. A nun from the Order of the Precious Blood of Christ, Sister Luka Luka, believed that her bad case official ringworm was cured by her prayers to Kateri was cured claimed that it was a miracle.

The process for her canonization began in 1884. She was declared venerable by Pope Pius XII on January 3, 1943. She was later beatified on June 22, 1980 by Pope John Paul II, and as such she is properly referred to as Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. She is the first Native American to be so honored, and as such she holds a special place of devotion among the native peoples of North America.

The final step in the canonization process is awaiting a verified miracle. Kateri's feast day in the United States is celebrated on July 14. Kateri was for some time after her death considered an honorary (though unofficial) patroness of Montreal, Canada, and Native Americans. Fifty years after her death a convent for Native American nuns was opened in Mexico, whose residents pray daily for her canonization.

On, October 21, 2012 Pope Benedict XVI announced Kateri Tekakwitha canonization. She is the first Native American to be so honored.

updated 04.17.2013

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