Michael Robinson sets up before a celebratory mass Sunday.
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For parishioners of a local Catholic church, their prayers have been answered.
Members of Kitchitwa Kateri Anamewgamik gathered Sunday to watch as their namesake Kateri Tekakwitha became a saint. Born in New York state in 1656, Tekakwitha fled North to what is now Canada as a devout Catholic. A bone relic of hers is credited with the life-saving miracle of a boy in Washington in 2007. That is partly the reason a prayer to have her canonized became a reality after more than 100 years of campaigning. Church cultural coordinator Michael Robinson said it’s an amazing day for First Nations Catholics.
“Considering the dark past that Aboriginal people have with the church and residential schools I guess to me I view this as a way of re-embracing and maybe starting a new path with the church and it’s also a step in the healing process for many Aboriginal people in Canada,” he said before a celebratory mass began Sunday morning.
“To actually see a First Nations person become a saint, it’s a very special time right now and it’s kind of a surreal atmosphere. It’s kind of unbelievable that it actually happened now.”
The church held a pipe ceremony, feast and honour song Sunday along with its traditional mass. Around 70 people from Thunder Bay joined more than 1,500 Canadian pilgrims in Rome to celebrate the canonization. Robinson said he hadn’t spoken with any of his friends who are there but had seen pictures posted on social media sites. Tekakwitha was beatified in 1980. Robinson said he’s been praying for canonization for a long time.
“It’s just unreal that it’s actually happened.”
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