For Kateri Tekakwitha’s many “nieces” and “nephews,” today is a celebration of their special and sacred “Auntie.” Like all Catholic saints, Kateri has a feast day in her honor. In the U.S., July 14 is hers. On her feast day many Indigenous communities, including my own Yakama Reservation community, are normally engaged with deep and prayerful preparation for a beautiful Indigenous spiritual celebration including a mass and a festive afterparty with traditional foods, a table of tempting desserts, cultural performances, wise words of our Elders in heartfelt speeches, and the usual teasing, laughing, and joking that make anyone who wishes to attend feel loved and welcomed.
This year, because of the pandemic that is hammering our precious communities, such large gatherings are not possible. Yet Kateri’s devotees continue to pray together–for the health and well-being of all peoples, for the foods, air and water to be safe and clean for us all.
I recently found some notes I took while attending the National Tekakwitha Conference in El Paso in July 2013. I talked with many of Kateri’s devoted followers. They taught me:
She is a strong Indigenous woman. She had a quiet but unwavering strong spirit. She’s one of us. She’s just like us. What a beautiful, loving description of a saintly Auntie.
All across Turtle Island, St. Kateri’s devotees, whether her actual Algonquin, Mohawk, and Haudenosaunee kin, or “adopted” nieces and nephews from other Tribal lands, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, lift us up in prayer. They are devoted to our well-being and the well-being of Mother Earth.
Do you feel those blessings? I do.
Happy Feast Day, Auntie St. Kateri.
You can read more about Kateri Tekakwitha’s remarkable presence in Indigenous communities in my book, Indian Pilgrims.
Have you heard about The Auntie Way Professional Development Course on July 22 and 29? Learn more here, and join us in bringing deeper levels of kindness, fierceness, and creativity into your work and life!