Friday, October 19, 2012


Gift to OLR from the Wilsons in MT. (King Kuka-Blackfoot Artist)

When I was completing my doctorate, I had several chances to lecture in Montreal.

The first time, my dear friend and mentor, Ira Perrell ( a non-practicing Jew) came with me. I asked him if he would like to stop at the reservation where Bl. Kateri Tekakwith was buried. Ira, being open to any adventure, said why not and it was on our way to Montreal.

I am sure that after the beatification of  St. Kateri in 1980, tourism  greatly increased since the days when I was there. I remember poverty, dirt roads, and somber faces. Ira and I had not eaten and found an unmarked house where people seemed to be sitting inside. They were quiet and shy of us, but pleasant.

We went in to the very small restaurant, no menu, but we were game for anything. For less than the tip Ira left, we ate a wonderful meal starting with a pea soup with huge hunks of ham. It was so thick the spoon could stand in the bowl. The rest of the meal is lost to my memory, but Ira often spoke of that side trip, esp. as we stood on the banks of the peaceful  waters. Ira died this year, so the memory of that trip is more meaningful now.

Looking across the St-Lawrence River & Seaway (at Kahnawake)

The next year I was again in Montreal. My  (practicing) Jewish friends Myrna and Monroe were also there visiting friends and wanted to take me to some of the "tourist" places in Montreal. Ah ha, I said I have a place to show you, so we crossed the waterway  to Kahnawake. I still have the photos Monroe took of "Minnie" and I at the shrine and standing along the beautiful  waterside.

 When St. Kateri died, two French settlers so moved by the sight of her radiant, peaceful face built a wood coffin to hold her precious remains. When the mission moved from one location to another, her bones were too valuable to leave behind and were exhumed. The coffin made identification possible because St.Kateri was the only Indian buried in such a fashion.

Her grave stone reads:
            Kateri Tekakwitha  Ownkeonweke
    Katsitsiio  Teonsitsianekaron

"The fairest flower that ever bloomed among red men".
Artist-  Regina Ammerman, AZ

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