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Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, First Native American Saint - Oct. 21, 2012

CALAIS, Maine - (WQDY NEWS) -- Saint Kateri Tekakwitha has been canonized in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI. She is the first Native American to be recognized as a saint. 

Locally, the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Roman Catholic parish stretches from Peter Dana Point to Pembroke.

ABOVE: One of the old stained glass windows at St. Ann RC Church,  in Sipayik -Pleasant Point-WQDY NEWS FILE PHOTO

In a recent interview, Father James Plourde, administrator of the parish told WQDY NEWS, "As a parish, it's kind of a unique circumstance to have the patron or patroness of a parish become canonized. Usually, they're already canonized so that most parishes are named after saints who have already been recognized by the Church. There are a few exceptions to that and we're one of them."

"It's exciting that as a parish we have that opportunity to watch this person be elevated to the order of sainthood."

Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in what is now upstate New York.

ABOVE: Fr. Jim Plourde speaks of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha just prior to rosary recitation at St. John's Church in Pembroke in September, one of several events held around the parish in anticipation of the canonization-WQDY NEWS PHOTO

Kateri Tekakwitha devoted her life to God -- and was ostracized because of it.

"When Kateri's life was endangered by her faith -- when it became obvious that she was so ridiculed in her own tribe, some of the Jesuit priests who were there suggested to her that she escape and go up to what is today the Montreal area where there was a Christian community of Algonquin Indians. Her mother was an Algonquin so in many ways she was going back to her roots," said Plourde.

On the day of Kateri's canonization -- Sunday Oct. 21 -- parish activities will be centered in Calais.

At 5 p.m., there will be a special Mass of Thanksgiving for the communities throughout the parish at Calais at the Immaculate Conception Church and a pot luck supper will follow.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha parish includes six faith communities: Immaculate Conception in Calais, St. James the Greater in Baileyville, St. Joseph in Eastport, St. Ann at Peter Dana Point in Indian Towship, St. John the Evangelist in Pembroke and St. Ann in Sipayik-Pleasant Point. 

The parish will be represented in Rome the day of the canonization.

The parish's two Native American deacons -- Deacon George Stevens from Indian Township and Deacon Rick Phillips-Doyle from Pleasant Point will be in Rome for the canonization. 

"There are also a number of other parishioners -- mostly Native parishioners who on their own are going to Rome for the canonization.

So, there'll be a fair number of people represented from this little corner of the world in Rome for this big event," Plourde said.