Pilgrims touched by Spirit at St. Kateri gathering

Pilgrims to the St. Kateri gathering July 9 at Maskwacis venerated a relic of St. Kateri Tekakwitha held by Fr. Nilo Macapinlac (left).

WCR PHOTO | LASHA MORNINGSTAR

Pilgrims to the St. Kateri gathering July 9 at Maskwacis venerated a relic of St. Kateri Tekakwitha held by Fr. Nilo Macapinlac (left).

July 25, 2016
LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Theodore Waskahat's words were wrapped in reverence. "The presence of God was there."

The 29-year-old acclaimed musician mentioned he had been nervous when he played the flute at the third annual St. Kateri Gathering at Maskwacis July 9.

The more than 200 people in the audience did not notice any nervousness. They fell silent as they listened to his emotive renditions of The Drum Song and The Lord's Prayer.

Waskahat said he had agreed to come because his mother would also be attending the gathering. But the musician was obviously moved by the profound sense of the sacred in the celebration of St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

Children carry their homemade crosses in the children's pageant at Maskwacis

WCR PHOTO | LASHA MORNINGSTAR

Children carry their homemade crosses in the children's pageant at Maskwacis

That spiritual presence was felt throughout the celebration of North America's first Aboriginal saint.

The theme of the event was Heaven Sent and Protector of Mother Earth.

The audience was a mixture of races and ages, but all were one as they hungered for shared experience and information about their beloved saint.

A teepee was set up for priests to hear Confessions; colourful bags containing holy water, a prayer candle, prayer cards and rosaries were handed out to everyone as they registered at the powwow grounds.

A children's procession and the opportunity to touch a relic of St. Kateri were woven into the thoughtful program.

Mary Soto 88 said she began to feel better just by touching the relic of St Kateri.

WCR PHOTO | LASHA MORNINGSTAR

Mary Soto 88 said she began to feel better just by touching the relic of St Kateri.

Father Nilo Macapinlac celebrated Mass with Father Sylvio Lacar concelebrating. Macapinlac called St. Kateri a woman of peace who was "in love with God and the beauty of creation."

He told the gathering "Our goal is to become saints, . . . protectors of our environment and to love Mother Earth."

Macapinlac also said we are "called to be pure," to live life according to the Beatitudes and not lose hope."

Rod Alexis, former chief of the Nakota Sioux Nation, told the audience of his trip to Medjugorje and of surprising events such as seeing burning flames that produced no ashes.

He also travelled with Chief Tony Alexis to see Pope Francis and told of the pope taking his hand in both of his.

The Aboriginal leader shared how he had been diagnosed with cancer two years ago, and the physicians wanted to operate. Alexis said no. He told the audience that he bathed in the healing waters at Lac Ste. Anne and said he is now cancer free.

Aboriginal flautist Theodore Waskahat performed two tunes at the July 9 gathering.

WCR PHOTO | LASHA MORNINGSTAR

Aboriginal flautist Theodore Waskahat performed two tunes at the July 9 gathering.

Alexis said he also made a promise to the Blessed Mother that whatever she asks, "I will try to help you."

While telling the audience "God created all things," he said the changing weather patterns is the "Earth trying to care for itself."

He urged the people to "care for what is around you. . . . Speak for the animals so they can survive."

Maria Jenkins was wondering what to do with her Saturday when she received an invitation to attend the St. Kateri gathering at Maskwacis.

WCR PHOTO | LASHA MORNINGSTAR

Maria Jenkins was wondering what to do with her Saturday when she received an invitation to attend the St. Kateri gathering at Maskwacis.

Alexis talked about words and their power. "Words have spirit," he said. "Think before you talk."

SURPRISE INVITATION

Maria Jenkins listened. She had not planned on attending the event. In fact, she did not even know it was happening.

But that Saturday morning Jenkins was sitting in the Wetaskiwin McDonald's restaurant having coffee. She was silently asking God what she should do that day. In walked Lacar who, seeing his parishioner, invited Jenkins to join his group.

Jenkins called the event "a gift from God. . . . After all, we live by faith."

For 88-year-old Mary Soto, the gathering was a dream come true. She told of travelling to conventions and encouraging the celebration of St. Kateri.

Confined to a wheelchair, Soto said, as she was wheeled back from touching the relic, "I'm starting to feel better."