First Anniversary Celebration of the Canonization of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Louise Cook, Bishop Marcel Damphousse and Father Jerome Pastores.

On Sunday October 20, 2013 the First Anniversary Celebration of the Canonization of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was held. A mass at the St. Regis church started off the celebration and a dinner reception followed at the St. Regis Recreation. The event was sponsored by the Akwesasne Kateri Prayer Circle.

A delicious meal was served, Janine Rourke and Father Pastores welcomed the attendees and then guests spoke about Kateri and what she has meant in their life.

Louise Cook talked about her experience with the Canonization. She said that she had no intention of going to Rome for the longest time. She focused on helping others go by what she said was “more chicken barbecues, spaghetti dinners and taco sales,” than she had been to in her life. Louise talked about the hurdles of translating the many prayers into Mohawk and how people attempted to convince her to go to Rome. Finally Sister Delia said, “You have to go, you were selected to go.”

Louise told the story of the journey and said, “You can’t explain the feeling of being next to the Pope.” She spoke of how she said in an interview that she wasn’t really nervous speaking to 80,000 people, and that when asked what Kateri Tekakwitha was to her, she said, “My sister. We don’t remove anyone from our family tree.”

Louise ended her story saying, “We have to pray to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and keep her in our life every day.”

Joanne Shenandoah sang two songs at the reception. One was the song she sang at the Canonization “May There Be Peace,” which she graciously allowed people to purchase even though the song is not released yet. The other was “Chosen One” which she wrote in Bethlehem.

Joanne said, “A year ago was one of the most amazing experiences.” And that means a lot when you have a life like Joanne Shenandoah who has played for some of the most powerful, well-known and wonderful people across the world.

Most Reverend Marcel Damphousse, Bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, spoke at the celebration, thanking everyone for the warm welcome he received in Akwesasne. He said, “You really do have a treasure in the person of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. She remained faithful to God in the midst of many trials. She was a beautiful gift from God and the gift I received from her was the experience of great peace.” Janine Rourke presented him with Jordan Thompson’s portrait of Kateri, which Joanne and Louise also received. The Bishop also received a beautiful ribbon shirt from the Akwesasne Kateri Prayer Circle.

About the celebration, Planning Committee member Nanci Ransom said, “We’ve been planning this for about 3 months. A special thank you to Joanne who came down on her own, we are very grateful to have her here.”

Terri Steele, Father Jack Downs, Sister Christine, and Joanne Shenandoah.

Joanne Shenandoah said, “It’s about honoring those that do good. There are good people in all cultures and all religions. I have performed all over the world, at presidential inaugurations, for His Holiness the Dali Lama and here I am at the St. Regis Recreation. It’s about people coming together through music for peace. My life has been such a blessing.”

Planning Committee member Bernice Lazore said, “We worked very hard planning the menu, the mass, sending out the invitations and getting guests. We’re very happy with the way it came out.”

This celebration could not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the planning committee which includes Nanci Ransom, Laura Morris, Bernice Lazore, Elizabeth Sunday, Judy Cole, Angie Sunday, Dorothy Costello, Cecil Ransom, Patty Francis, Carole Ross and Valerie Garrow.