Love, patience led promoter of Kateri’s sainthood cause for 55 years
Although separated from her by three centuries, an ocean and major cultural differences, Jesuit Father Paolo Molinari absolutely loves Kateri Tekakwitha, the Native American who will become a saint in October.
While the 88-year-old Italian Jesuit was forced to give his successor most of the sainthood causes he still was actively promoting when he turned 80, “thank God, they let me keep Kateri.”
Father Molinari, one of the church’s most prolific postulators — as the official promoters of causes are called — inherited Kateri’s cause from his Jesuit predecessor in 1957.
He shepherded her cause to beatification in 1980 and is now in talks with the pope’s master of liturgical ceremonies to ensure Kateri’s Native American brothers and sisters will have a prominent role during her canonization Mass Oct. 21 at the Vatican.
Father Molinari hopes that one of the readings at the canonization Mass will be in Iroquoian, the language of the Mohawks. And Native American choirs should be able to share their sacred music at the liturgy.
“I love her,” the Jesuit said.
“She’s a lovely young lady indeed,” said the Jesuit, his eyes sparkling.
Interviewed June 8 in his book-packed room in the Jesuit infirmary, Father Molinari said his admiration for Kateri, combined with the complex Vatican process for declaring saints and the fact that she died some 330 years ago, gave him 55 years to practice the virtue of patience.
But unlike many of the so-called “ancient causes” that are surrounded by pious legends, but lacking hard evidence, Kateri’s cause was supported by plenty of eyewitness accounts of her life, faith, good works and death.
The Jesuit missionaries who baptized her in 1676 and provided her with spiritual guidance until her death in 1680 at the age of 24 wrote formal annual reports about their missions to the Jesuit superior general. Kateri, known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” is mentioned in many of the reports, which still exist in the Jesuit archives, he said. [More]