Pastoral Team retreat focuses on Native American saint

posted on October 19, 2012

by Shannon Grooms

Representatives from Catholic churches around the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation recently came together for prayer in a Pastoral Team retreat at the Sioux Spiritual Center in Plainview, SD. The theme of the retreat was Kateri Tekakwitha who will be canonized in Rome later this month.

Blessed Kateri grew up in a village in New York state. She contracted smallpox at the age of four, which left her scarred, visually impaired, and weak for the remainder of her life. It also left her orphaned, as her mother, father, and baby brother died during the epidemic. Eventually, Kateri met a Catholic priest, expressed in interest in baptism, and was baptized.

It was hard to openly practice Catholicism in Kateri’s village, so eventually she fled to a community near Montreal. There she had her first communion and took vows of perpetual virginity. She devoted her life to teaching children to pray and to care for the sick and elderly until her death at age 24.

The purpose of the retreat is to allow the pastoral team to come together to renew their spirits, pray, and share their ministries. According to one of the retreat planners, Sr. Barb Bogenschutz, “We took a look at the life of Kateri. We looked at how the beginning of her life planted the seed for her faith and reflected on who in our lives planted that initial seed. From there we moved to looking at what sustained Kateri during the struggles of her life and the parallels in our own lives. We finished by looking at how she ministered and spread her faith, for instance, by making crosses out of twigs when she walked in the woods. Our focus was how we could share our lives in our home churches.”

Kateri Tekakwitha is scheduled to by formally canonized on Sunday, October 21.