Vatican canonization ceremony to have NY flavor
Father Tony Chiaramonte put on his New York Giants cap as he started the first leg of his journey to the Vatican, where two women separated by 200 years and 40 miles of the Mohawk Valley will achieve sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
“Gotta wear the hat,” the retired priest said earlier this week as he proudly donned the blue cap with the team’s familiar white “NY” logo, just before boarding the bus that would take him and about 200 other parishioners from the Albany area to New York City region airports for the flight to Italy and this weekend’s canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha and Mother Marianne Cope.
The Albany contingent is being joined by about the same number of Catholic faithful from central New York, plus nearly 100 members of the Syracuse-based Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, Mother Marianne’s order. Smaller groups of clergy members from the Buffalo area also will be in Rome, along with a New York City contingent led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
They’ll be among the pilgrims who’ll give the Vatican a prominent New York presence during Sunday’s event that will bestow sainthood on the two women and five others.
Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard, who said he prayed for Kateri’s canonization as a child, called the trip a “once-in-a-lifetime event” for his parishioners.
“It’s a great day for the diocese and for Native Americans,” he said Tuesday before boarding a bus at a suburban Albany church. “There’s a deep affection people of our diocese have of Kateri Tekakwitha.”
Kateri, known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” will be the first American Indian saint. She was born in 1656 to a Catholic Algonquin mother and a Mohawk chief in a Mohawk village about 30 miles northwest of Albany. Scarred at a young age and made nearly blind by smallpox, she converted to Catholicism and later fled to a French Jesuit mission outside Montreal, where she died at 24 after falling ill.
Pamela Bennett, who works in the Albany diocese human resources office, recalled taking trips with her family as a child to visit the Kateri Shrine in Fonda, along the Mohawk River just west of Albany. She said she took on a second job at a supermarket just so she could pay for this week’s trip to Italy.
“I’ve been looking forward to this so much,” she said. “It’s so wonderful that we have someone from New York state and the Albany diocese becoming a saint.” [More]