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    In Rome With St. Kateri Tekakwitha


    The personal account of Graydon Nicholas, former lieutenant governor of New Brunswick, Canada, a Knights of Columbus board member and a member of the Maliseet First Nation Tribe

    “My wife, Beth, and I were very blessed to travel with the Mr. Dennis Savoie, Deputy Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and his wife, Claudette, for the historic canonization of one of our own. We left Fredericton enroute to Toronto and then a direct flight to Rome. In the Toronto airport, we met more Mi’kmaq (First Nation indigenous people) pilgrims from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. It was a very exciting gathering as we all shared our expectations.

    We arrived in Rome early the next morning and made our way to our hotel. We decided to visit St. Peter’s Square where we met more pilgrims from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We made our purchases at the souvenir shops. We continued to meet First Nation and Native Americans all in Rome for the canonization. It was an exciting afternoon.

    The next day, we travelled to Assisi, and we met many more Aboriginal pilgrims from Canada and the U.S. I met so many former colleagues in the Aboriginal political movement from years past. There was a special Mass that was celebrated for the Cree of Saskatchewan. We met a bus load of Mohawk pilgrims from Akwesasne, Cree from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. We meet members of various tribes from the U.S. who lived in Oregon, North Carolina, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Everyone we spoke to was anticipating an exciting day for Oct. 21.

    We were invited by the American and Canadian Embassies to their gatherings. We met many more pilgrims. The vigil on Oct. 20 was very spiritual, and it was awesome to see our traditional Elders leading us in prayer. … We got to watch the video of St. Kateri [In Her Footsteps] and met the boy who received the miracle. He and his family were so humble and grateful as so many came forward to shake their hands and give the boy a special hug.

    Oct. 21, 2012, was a very warm day. The sun was out. There were about 100,000 pilgrims packed in St. Peter’s Square for this special day. This was a day in destiny and so long anticipated that my heart beat a rapid rate. We were close to the altar where Pope Benedict VI celebrated the Eucharist. When he read the official Church notice declaring St. Kateri a saint, I was overcome with joy and pride: St. Kateri was Mohawk and Algonquin, she was one of our own, she was the second Native American to be canonized after St. Juan Diego in 2002.

    The crowd rejoiced in a loud voice as her name was announced. Drums could be heard in the distance. …

    The next day, on the Mass of Thanksgiving, the church was packed. We met many, many more pilgrims from Canada. We shared our spiritual experiences and gratitude of these times. We went to share a meal with friends. I met so many former and current members of the Aboriginal Council, part of the Canada Conference of Catholic Bishops, and we smiled about this historic moment. The long wait took place. We were so happy and grateful. Then, we said our goodbyes and prepared to return to our homes to share our experiences.

    This unique canonization was special in our eyes and hearts. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for this decision.”



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