As she waited outside St. Francis Xavier Church in Burbank along with other Native American women wearing fringed shawls draped over their shoulders, Eva Walters summarized participants’ feelings as they prepared to walk in the entrance procession for the Oct. 28 Mass honoring newly-canonized St. Kateri Tekakwitha.“What can I say? It’s very emotional,” said Walters, a Native American co-founder and current director of City of the Angels Kateri Circle formed in the early 1980s to promote Native American evangelization and the canonization of Catholic convert Kateri Tekakwitha, the “Lily of the Mohawks” who died in 1680 at age 24. The day’s Mass and post-liturgy mini Pow Wow celebration was the first archdiocesan event organized by Native American members of City of the Angels Kateri Circle and Burbank’s 4 Kateri Circle to celebrate St. Kateri’s canonization in Rome Oct. 21.“We’re just ecstatic over this — finally we get recognized by the world now. We’re very happy,” said Walters.“We have always considered her our saint, but now that she’s canonized, she’s a saint for all people,” said Jo-Ann Semon, president of City of the Angels Kateri Circle, who invited the congregation of parishioners and Native American guests at the beginning of Mass to put their “heartbeat to the heartbeat of our drum — we’re all going to be one.” “Thank you for giving us this new American saint, Kateri Tekakwitha,” said Father Richard Albarano, pastor. “What a model she is for all of us of love of God, people and of the earth.”He noted in his homily that she shared things in common with the day’s Gospel story of blind Bartimaeus. Kateri’s sight was compromised by smallpox and she also had to leave things that were important to her, including fleeing her tribe to take refuge in Canada at St. Francis Xavier Mission in the Mohawk Nation at Caughnawaga on the St. Lawrence River.“She, too, recognized that Christ was the answer to what she was looking for,” said Father Albarano. “He was the light, he was the goodness that she felt within herself that she knew had to come from someplace else, had to come from God. So Tekakwitha cried out to Jesus: ‘Give me the sight of faith, and Jesus did.’”Father Albarano was presented with an icon of Kateri in gratitude for the parish’s generosity in inviting Native Americans to “be part of your family this day,” noted Semon. Daughters of St. Paul Sister Marie James Hunt, 47, whose mother grew up on the Penobscot Indian Reservation in Maine, told The Tidings she has been looking forward to Kateri’s canonization her whole life, and even obtained special permission when she was 12 to take Kateri as her confirmation name.“At that time, Kateri was only ‘Venerable’ and technically, you’re not supposed to choose a Venerable, so I wrote to the bishop — our family was living in Virginia at the time — and I explained the situation, why I wanted her name. And he allowed it so I was able to take her name as my confirmation name,” explained Sister Hunt, who was present in Rome with her mother for Kateri’s canonization.“Part of Kateri’s story was her desire to consecrate her life; I think if she had the opportunity she would have become a religious herself,” noted Sister Hunt, who took a book on the life of Kateri, newly-published by the Daughters of St. Paul, to be among the gifts presented to Pope Benedict XVI during the canonization festivities in Rome.“She lived a very holy, pious life, and that definitely did have an influence on my desire to become a religious,” said Sister Hunt, currently ministering at the Daughters of St. Paul bookstore in Culver City.Rosina Lerma, still coping with laryngitis from all the cheering she did along with the 80,000 attendees from all over the world in St. Peter’s Square for the canonization —- including 15 of her fellow parishioners from St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Santa Clarita —- said the ceremony in Rome was very moving.“I feel connected to Kateri because she was an Indian,” said Lerma, whose ancestors are Mexican Indians. Attending the Mass honoring St. Kateri at St. Francis Xavier “was lovely,” she added.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/1116/sfkateri/{/gallery}