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Dear friends in the Lord:
As president of the board of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, I want to welcome you on behalf of my fellow board members - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap. of Philadelphia and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore - to this special pilgrimage to Rome for the canonization of our beloved friend in heaven, Kateri Tekakwitha. May these next few days be filled with every grace and blessing!
There is a rich tradition, nearly as old as the Church herself, of the faithful making pilgrimages to holy sites. From the earliest days of Christianity, pilgrims have traveled to Rome to venerate the sites associated with the apostles, the saints and martyrs. We follow in their footsteps.
Kateri made her own pilgrimage when she traveled from her Mohawk home in New York to the Christian settlement in Quebec where, as we know, she completed her brief life growing in love of and service to her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, and His Church. She did not leave her Native identity, culture, or heritage behind her when on that journey; rather, she grew into her new Native Catholic identity, fully blossoming as the Lily of the Mohawks.
Kateri's canonization is occurring at a most grace-filled moment in the life of the Church.We are at the very start of the Year of Faith, as announced by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI,and on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Kateri's life of heroic sanctity thus becomes a model for us as we take up the tasks of the New Evangelization proposed to us by both Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, the topic of the Synod of Bishops, also occurring in Rome in October.
We are coming to Rome as pilgrims, but we leave here as evangelizers! And the message we must proclaim to our friends and neighbors is the same one St. Kateri herself announced joyfully to her companions every day of her life, and on her death bed itself: "Jesus, I love you."
Wishing you every spiritual reward and all the graces
attendant in this pilgrimage,
I am,Faithfully Yours in Christ Jesus,
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
President, Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions
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