Canadian delegation attends canonization
By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
OTTAWA (CCN) — For Canadian delegation members attending Kateri
Tekakwitha’s canonization, a highlight was meeting the boy who
experienced a miracle cure attributed to the new saint.
In a news conference Oct. 21 in Rome after the canonization, Speaker
of the House of Commons Andrew Scheer spoke of meeting Seattle teenager
Jake Finkbonner who was miraculously cured of life-threatening flesh-eating
disease after a relic of Kateri was placed on his pillow and family and
friends pleaded for her intercession. Jake and family participated in
the prayer vigil led by the Canadian delegation on Oct. 20.
“It was one of those special moments that I’ll always treasure,” Scheer
An estimated 1,500 Canadian pilgrims attended the canonization
in St. Peter’s Square, most of them from First Nations and other
Aboriginal communities. Among the 17 Canadian bishops were Toronto Cardinal
Thomas Collins, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith, president of the Canadian
Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), and Saint-Jean-Longueuil Bishop
Lionel Gendron, the Canadian diocese that includes the Mohawk territory
where Blessed Kateri lived and died. Gendron played a key role in organizing
Canadian participation in the canonization.
“This is an emotional occasion for all Catholics around the world,
especially in the indigenous community, as a sister of ours is bestowed
with the highest honour given by the Catholic Church,” said Assembly
of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo in a statement. “Kateri
Tekakwitha devoted her life to helping the poor and the sick.”
“She is an inspiration for so many of our people who have gone
through difficult times, including many who are still living with the
trauma of residential schools,” he said.
“The canonization of Saint Kateri is a great honour and joyous
occasion for the many North Americans and Aboriginal peoples who cherish
her witness of faith and strength of character. The Government of Canada
stands with those who are celebrating her life on this day in Canada,
the United States and throughout the world,” said Prime Minister
Stephen Harper in an Oct. 21 statement.
Harper designated Scheer to lead the multi-party Canadian political delegation
which included Transport Minister Denis Lebel, Intergovernmental Affairs
Minister Peter Penashue, Conservative and NDP MPs, members of the Quebec
National Assembly and chiefs from Canadian First Nations communities.
“There’s a very profound connection between the First Nations people of Canada and their links to Christianity and the links to the early missions to our country,” Scheer said. “To have that kind of transcendence through the centuries to today in modern-day Canada here in the Vatican, I think it had a very profound effect on everyone who was able to witness first-hand the canonization ceremony.”