*We highlight these Saints to inspire our students and contribute to their growth in Catholic education by fostering understanding and appreciation for Catholic values and teachings. We encourage parents to share the stories of these Saints with their children to deepen their spirituality and motivate them to live their faith with conviction, following the examples of these admired role models.*
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, also known as Lily of the Mohawks, lived an exemplary life of piety and humility making her a source of inspiration for many. She lived a simple life, devoting herself to God and serving others.
She was born in 1656 in present-day New York and belonged to the Mohawk tribe. From an early age, she encountered immense hardships. At four years old, she contracted smallpox, which left her with scars, leading her to frequently conceal her face with a blanket. Simultaneously, Kateri experienced the devastating loss of her parents. She was orphaned and raised by her uncle, but Kateri persevered through these challenges with a remarkable spirit.
As Kateri matured, her steadfastness and commitment to her beliefs became evident. She displayed exceptional skill and dedication in her work, known for her diligence and patience. Despite societal pressures, she adamantly refused marriage and received increased labor as a consequence. This led Kateri to seek refuge in a Christian community, away from her native village, where Jesuit missionaries resided.
In her new community, Kateri devoted herself to a life of prayer and selflessness, caring for the sick and elderly. Witness accounts depict her daily acts of self-denial through fasting and self-mortification, all while fervently praying for the conversion of her fellow Mohawk tribe members. However, Kateri’s health suffered and after five years of living her newly embraced Catholic faith, she passed away at age 24 on April 17, 1680. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012, becoming the first Native American saint. Her deep spirituality and unwavering commitment to her beliefs earned her the title of “Patroness of Ecology and the Environment”.
Today, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is venerated as a symbol of indigenous holiness and is an important figure in the history of Native American Christianity. Her feast day is celebrated on July 14th. Her unyielding faith in the face of challenges can inspire us to seek strength and solace in our own spiritual journeys. Moreover, her life stands as a powerful reminder that we should always strive to serve others and show kindness, regardless of differences in appearance, language, or background. St. Kateri’s example urges us to embrace diversity, to reach out to those who may feel marginalized, and to share the boundless love of God with everyone around us. By emulating her dedication to God’s creation, her unshakeable faith during adversity, and her unwavering commitment to serving others, we can actively integrate our faith into our daily lives and positively impact the world around us.