Kateri Tekakwitha

Many of you may not know the story of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha: how she lost much of her family to small pox, was persecuted by and fled from her tribe, or the miracles attributed to her. It is a story that needs to be known, but this is not the place for me to delve into the wonders of her life and death nor is it my intention. However, I HIGHLY recommend that you do research into her yourself. Believe me, it is well worth it.

Now onto the main event. Tekakwitha (pronounced Te-ka-with-a) died in 1680 at the age of 24 and the canonization process started in 1884. She was declared Venerable by Pope Pius XII in 1943 and beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980. She is the only Native American to ever achieve such honor. Quite a feat, but not enough to the over half a million Catholic Natives that look to her for strength and protection, including many of the Navajo that Maddie and I are currently working with. That’s where the Tekakwitha Conference comes into play.

Tekakwitha March

Tekakwitha March

There has been a lot of talk about the Tekakwitha Conference since we have come here and that is because the 71st Annual Tekakwitha Conference is being held a mere 4 hours away in Albuquerque, NM (well and because we’re living in a Catholic Mission). A number of the parishioners here at St. Anne’s and from All Saints’ in Ganado (15 miles away) are traveling to Albuquerque to attend the Conference. The only problem is that many of those going do not have a lot of money as it is and will have several fees and dues to pay over the next few weeks for the Conference, not to mention the cost of lodging and food for the 4 day conference. So, in order to ease the burden for some of the less affluent the decision was made to sell Navajo Tacos at All Saint’s as a fund raiser. And, as per our association with St. Anne’s, Maddie and I were asked if we would like to attend and help out with the Tacos.

Navajo Taco... MMMMMmmmmmm

When we arrived at All Saint’s we were directed to the kitchen and as we walked through the door and announced “WE ARE HERE TO HELP!” the first question we were asked was “Can you guys help make Fry Bread?” The irony in this question is that since about the first weekend that we had been on the Rez Maddie and I have been saying that we wanted to learn how to make Fry Bread. So, the elder that was frying the dough showed us how to shape the dough (which is not NEARLY as easy as the Navajo make it look or seem!) and put us to work making a few pieces of that yummy-ness. Then, from about 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Maddie and I were put to work doing all kinds of cooking errands: dicing tomatoes, chopping lettuce, grating cheese, shaping dough, frying dough, stirring beans, putting the tacos together, selling the tacos, and serving the customers. It was SUCH a busy day, but enormously enriching.

We were working with four women throughout the day who entertained us with stories, or their chatter, or even their frights (the elder screamed upon seeing a lizard in the kitchen and her scream sent us ALL RUNNING!). Also all the different customers and their joy in supporting their community and speaking to others was so uplifting. They even made, after everything they owed for the supplies was taken out, $227.21! It was a blessed day served in the name of the Blessed Kateri.