Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Gonzaga University’s Catholic Studies program presents free conference on St. Kateri Tekakwitha Feb. 2

the Inland Register

(From the January 17, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

Gonzaga University’s Catholic Studies program will host a day-long conference on Saturday, Feb. 2, featuring scholars and Native American leaders who will discuss the impact of St. Kateri Tekakwitha’s life and legacy within the Native American Catholic community and the entire Catholic community.

Right: Father Michael Maher SJ

The conference will begin at 9:30 a.m. at GU’s Jepson Center and will conclude with a Mass in honor of the new saint at 5:15 p.m. in the University Chapel in College Hall.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 21, 2012, the first Native North American saint.

St. Kateri was born in 1656 of Algonquin and Mohawk ancestry. After her contact and conversations with Jesuit missionaries she converted to Christianity and lived a life of sanctity and heroic virtue. Although St. Kateri died in 1680, her life has served as inspiration for Native Catholics and the entire Catholic community.

Right: Sister Kateri Mitchell

Three keynote speakers – Sister Kateri Mitchell, Mark Thiel, and Jesuit Father Michael Maher – will present their insights concerning the interaction of Catholicism and the experience of native peoples using as a common focus the life of St. Kateri Tekakwitha.

Sister Kateri Mitchell of the Sisters of St. Anne is the national director of the Kateri Tekakwitha Conference in Great Falls, Mont., and a member of the Mohawk Tribe and Turtle Clan, the same tribe and clan as St. Kateri. Sister Kateri’s talk will provide information and reflections based on her directorship of the Kateri Tekakwitha conference as well as insights gained on her participation in the canonization in Rome.

According to Father Maher, Sister Kateri will bring with her the relic of St. Kateri which was part of the cure of Jake Finkbonner of the Lummi Tribe, who lives in Sandy Point, Wash. The cure was the third miracle accepted prior to St. Kateri’s canonization.

Mark Thiel, curator at the Catholic Bureau of Indian Affairs at Marquette University, will bring his extensive archival and research experience to this conference. His lecture will be complemented with rare historic photographs of the earliest recorded devotions to St. Kateri among Native Americans.

Right: Mark Thiel

Jesuit Father Michael Maher, director of Catholic Studies at Marquette University and Associate Professor of History at Gonzaga University, will examine some important themes common to the Jesuit Missions based on his research in the Jesuit archives in Rome and North America.

After each of the major lectures, discussion sessions and shorter talks are scheduled.

The conference is free and open to the public, including a hosted lunch. Registration is required. To register or for more information, call Father Maher at 509-313-6609 or email him at

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