Sts. Kateri and Pedro: inspirations for local Catholics

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sts. Kateri and Pedro: inspirations for local Catholics

Pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Chicago who traveled to Rome in October to witness the canonization of new saints are settling in at home with a renewed sense of devotion and determination to share the news.
Cheyenne Barrera and Robert Wapahi play the drum and chant after communion. Father Jason Malave was the main celebrant during a Mass to celebrate the canonization of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to achieve sainthood, at St. Benedict Parish, 2215 W Irving Park Rd., on Nov. 25. Members of the Kateri Center and guests as well as those who attended the canonization in Rome attended the Mass. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Anna Nenadal from St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Crystal Lake passes out medals of Kateri to st. Ben's parishioners after Mass. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Father Jason Malave blesses medals of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Deacon Roland Merced assists Bishop Francis Kane during a Mass of Thanksgiving for St. Pedro Calungsod, a lay catechist from the Philippines who was martyred in 1672, at St. Ita Parish in Chicago on Nov. 4. He was among seven new saints canonized by Pope Benedict XVI Oct. 21. Several Filipino Catholics from the archdiocese attended the event in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
(Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
(Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Cantor Karrel Bernardo leads the congregation in song during the Mass. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
(Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
(Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Members of the Filipino community pray during Mass. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
(Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)

Pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Chicago who traveled to Rome in October to witness the canonization of new saints are settling in at home with a renewed sense of devotion and determination to share the news.

Groups of both Native American Catholics and Filipino Catholics made the journey for the canonizations of seven new saints, including St. Pedro Calungsod, a young Filipino missionary who was about 17 when he was martyred in 1672, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), the “Lily of the Mohawks,” who embraced Christ despite the objections of her family and tribal leaders.

Both groups returned to the Chicago area and celebrated these canonizations during Masses within the local community.

St. Pedro

Up until now, St. Kateri — the first Native American saint — was probably more well-known in the United States, but the Office for Asian Catholics has plans to promote devotion to St. Pedro, including publishing a handbook about him and dedicating a statue of him at Old St. Mary’s Parish, 1500 S. Michigan Ave., in April, said Teresita Nuval, the office’s director.

The Filipino community also celebrated his canonization at a Mass at St. Ita Parish, Broadway and Catalpa Ave., on Nov. 3.

Nuval was among more than 40 people from Chicago who went to Rome specifically for St. Pedro’s canonization.

“There were thousands of Filipinos from all over the world,” she said. “It was a deeply moving, powerfully changing experience.”

Carisma Ebarvia, a parishioner at St. Wenceslaus, also traveled to Rome.

“It was definitely an eye opener. It was good to see a lot of people,” said Ebarvia, who wanted to go because, as a Sunday school teacher, she relates to St. Pedro’s role as a catechist.

A triduum of liturgical events at different churches made it a true pilgrimage, Nuval said, especially the Thanksgiving Mass for St. Pedro’s canonization. There were catechetical sessions, vespers, opportunities for confession. Homilies were given by different archbishops from the Philippines. Many families traveled together, even with young children.

“He is a young saint for the universal church,” she said. “He led an exemplary life of faith and became a catechist at age 14. He is very symbolic, not just to Filipinos but to a lot of young people. He has been canonized in this day and age when young people are looking for a model to pattern to model their lives after.”

She hopes to encourage young people to reflect on his example.

“What is it about his life that is so deeply moving?” Nuval said. “It was what he did to die for the faith. What can our young people learn from what he has done, what he died for? It’s about his relationship with Jesus, the Blessed Mother, with the people he catechized. He is a paradigm of faith in this year of faith.”

He also is an example to Filipinos who now live in other countries, she said.

“How are we going to bring our faith to the land where we immigrate? How are we witnesses to what is Christ like?”

St. Kateri

For members of the Kateri Center, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s outreach to American Indians, the journey was a dream come true. When the canonization date was announced and the center held a Mass of Thanksgiving, Irene Big Eagle talked about how, as a child, she would listen to her mother talk about then-Blessed Kateri.

Members of the Kateri Center celebrated at home Nov. 25.

“It was unbelievable to be there to witness such a blessed event. I almost felt like crying, it was so beautiful,” said Big Eagle, who spent about six days in Rome. “I felt like I was back in the days of the apostles. The Mass was so beautiful with all the thousands of people.”

Big Eagle was among 14 Chicago- area Catholics who went for St. Kateri’s canonization. There, they met up with groups from across North America.

“We did get together to talk about Kateri and how many years it took for her to be canonized,” she said. “I thought about my mother.”

For Big Eagle, something has changed.

“It does make a difference to know she’s a saint,” she said. “I can talk to her, ask her for blessings and whatever. She has answered my prayers. It’s a special feeling. You almost feel like she’s with you right then and there. The joy I felt at her canonization … it’s something you would have to witness yourself to have that feeling.

“I was happy to be there, happy that it happened during my lifetime. I talked to my mother — my mother’s been dead about 20 years — and I said it happened. She’s a saint.”