Kateri (Katherine) Tekakwitha was born in Osserneon, which today is called Auriesville in New York. Her mother was a Christian who had been captured and her father was a non-Christian Mohawk (Red Indian) chief. When Kateri was fourteen, her parents died of smallpox and a Mohawk uncle raised her.
St. Isaac Jogues and other missionaries that came from France were killed, while preaching the gospel to the Native American Indians. They were called the North American martyrs. Ten years after the death of St. Isaac Jogues, Kateri was born in the same village where he had died.
One day her uncle had three Jesuit missionaries as his guests. These priests prayed openly in the small chapel there. Kateri was fascinated and had many questions for them, which they patiently answered. Slowly the seed of faith began to grow within her and her heart was touched by the Holy Spirit. She let this faith in Jesus grow to full maturity and when she was eighteen, she was baptized on Easter Sunday.
Kateri knew her life would now become difficult as she was the only Christian in her village. Besides, she wanted to give her life to Jesus and refused to marry. Her uncle was angry and some people in the village were upset that she did not work on Sunday. But Kateri held her ground. She prayed her Rosary every day, even when others made fun of her. She practiced patience and suffered quietly. Kateri's life grew harder each day as some people were very cruel and insulted her.
She finally fled to a Christian village near Montreal one night. There on Christmas Day, 1677, she received her First Communion. It was a wonderful day. Father Pierre Cholonec, a Jesuit priest, guided her spiritual life for the next three years. She and an older Iroquois woman named Anastasia lived as joyful, generous Christians.
Then Kateri fell ill and almost lost her eyesight completely because of the small pox she had suffered as a child. But she continued praying and giving glory to God as she was very grateful for the opportunity to practice her faith. She was just twenty-four when she died at Caughnawaga in Canada, on April 17, 1680. Many miracles have been reported at her grave. Exactly three hundred years later, on June 22, 1980, Kateri Tekakwitha was declared "blessed" by Pope John Paul II.
Let us pray today for those who experience difficulty at the hands of others in their desire to live their Christian vocation more fully.