A full hundred people were in attendance at the Cathedral for the blessing of the new statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha on Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, while others chose to participate via the diocesan YouTube channel. The statue is now on view for public veneration at the left side of the nave beside the statue of St. Anne.
By Louise Royer, Director of the Social Action Ministry Office
The beauty and meaning of the gathering were deepened through a number of encounters: sculptor MC Snow meeting parish priest Alain Vaillancourt; St. Kateri Tekakwitha encountering the women of the Order of Consecrated Virgins of Montreal; meetings between Indigenous people of various nations – Kanien’kéha, Ojibway, Anishnabeg and non-Indigenous of various backgrounds; the encounter between Sister Marie-Laure Simon, CND, who has been promoting recognition of Indigenous cultures for over 30 years, with those who are becoming acquainted with these cultures now for the first time; meetings between the Knights of Columbus and activists; between bishops and residential school survivors; between the Word of God and the faithful; between Kateri Tekakwitha and Jesus Christ; and between Jesus Christ and every member of the congregation.
The ceremony began, in accordance with the customs of St. Kateri Tekakwitha and in her language, with the words that are to be pronounced before anything else is said and which were spoken here by Fran Montour of Kahnawake: This thanksgiving is for all our relationships, with people of all ages, ancestors, the sun, moon, stars, waters, animals, grains and medicines, plants, winds, thunder, rocks...
Ojibwe Roger Twance, head of Sainte Kateri au centre-ville, brought us into the present day, describing it as a time to confront evil and to accept the truth - including the truth about abuse. And further, a time to have hope that beyond the tears, just as beyond the Cross, we may be offered new life.
With Louise Royer, Director of the Social Action Office, Mr. Twance read the apology and commitments submitted by the Bishops of Canada on September 24.
The moment of prayer that followed took place in great silence, as each person approached the smoke of the purifying sage to offer his or her prayer.
Roger Twance processed around the statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha to cense it from all four cardinal directions.
Fr. Alain Vaillancourt, the Cathedral pastor, told how he turned the time of pandemic to advantage by taking up again a cause that had long been close to his heart: commission of a statue of St. Kateri. Upon the recommendation of Caroline Tanguay, he issued an invitation to Indigenous artists, and in this way he met MC Snow, whose work impressed him with its realism and meditative quality.
MC Snow, who created the statue, referred to her family connections with Kateri and shared her pride as an artist in seeing one of her own works displayed in this church.
Father Vincent Esprit, pastor of Kahnawake, expressed his gratitude to the Archbishop of Montreal and to the Cathedral parish. He offered a prayer to our Lord and invoked the intercession of Saint Kateri.
Deacon Alain Normand read the Gospel of Jesus calming the storm.
Archbishop Lépine gave a brief homily, focusing on the disciples' encounter with 'I Am' - Jesus Christ and Lord - in the midst of the storm, drawing an association with the life of St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
This was followed by the blessing and the congregation’s heartfelt response, recalling the last words of St. Kateri Tekakwitha: Jésus, je t’aime! Jesos Konoronhkwa! Jesus, I love you!
At the conclusion, the members of the Kahnawake Choir sang the hymn to St. Kateri, followed with an Our Father, Ave and Gloria, in the tradition of Sunday gatherings at St. Francis Xavier of Kahnawake.
Those in attendance took time to greet one another and talk together afterwards, as photos were taken.
Prière à Sainte Kateri (traduction)
Oh sainte Kateri, lys des Agniers, ton amour pour Jésus, si fort, si ferme!
accorde-nous de devenir comme toi. Ta courte et douloureuse vie
nous a montré ta force et ton humilité. Accorde-nous de devenir toujours humbles comme toi. Comme les étoiles brillantes et lumineuses de la nuit, nous prions pour que ta lumière brille à jamais sur nous, donnant lumière, espérance, paix et sérénité dans nos moments les plus sombres. Remplis nos cœurs, Sainte Kateri Tekakwitha, du même amour que tu as pour Jésus, et donne-nous ta force et ton courage pour que nous soyons comme toi au Ciel. Amen.
Sainte Kateri Tekakwitha, prie pour nous.
Prayer to Saint Kateri
Oh Saint Kateri, lily of the Mohawks, your love for Jesus, so strong, so steadfast,
grant that we may become like you. Your short and painful life
showed us your strength and humility. Grant that we may become forever humble like you. Like the bright and shining stars at night, we pray that your light may forever shine down upon us, giving light, hope, peacefulness and serenity in our darkest moments. Fill our hearts Saint Kateri Tekakwitha with your same love for Jesus, and grant us your strength and courage to become one like you in Heaven. Amen.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.
Visit the photo gallery of this event, September 30, at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral.
The Social Action Office is planning a program of listening to Aboriginal voices, a series of 12 meetings held for small groups led by a guide.
If you are interested in hosting one of these small groups, meetings are offered:
in English: the first meeting was held on September 29; the next meeting will be held October 21. For information, contact Kim Piché firstname.lastname@example.org
in French: November 12