Saturday, October 27, 2012

U.S. bishops highlight ten saints for Year of Faith

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Washington D.C., Oct 23, 2012 / 10:17 am (CNA).- To help Catholics learn more about the lives of the saints, the U.S. bishops’ conference has offered a list of 10 American saints for the Year of Faith.

Jeannine Marino, program specialist for the bishops’ conference’s Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis, created the list. As an advisor to several causes for canonization and a postulator, she researches the lives of proposed saints.

The list includes St. Isaac Jogues, a Jesuit missionary and North American martyr who traveled to the New World from France. In 1641, the Iroquois captured him and his companions. The Iroquois tortured and killed most of his group. He was killed by a tomahawk in 1646.

St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, the foundress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is also on the list. Known as Mother Cabrini, she is the first U.S. citizen to be canonized.

She came to the U.S. from Italy as a missionary. In her 35 years in the country before her death in 1917, she founded six institutions for the poor, the uneducated and the sick.  She is the patron saint of immigrants.

The U.S. bishops’ secretariat also highlights St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born U.S. citizen to be named a saint.

She was a poor widow with five children who in the early 19th century converted to Catholicism and founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, the first order of religious women in the U.S. She helped begin the first free Catholic school in the country.

Another of the Year of Faith saints is St. John Neumann, a Bohemia-born Redemptorist priest who became the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. He founded the first diocesan school system in the U.S. and helped start almost 100 Catholic schools before his death in 1860.

St. Katharine Drexel, foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, was a wealthy young woman from Philadelphia who became a missionary to American Indians and African Americans and started many schools and missions for them. She died at age 96 in 1955. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 2000.

The U.S. bishops have put forward the Society of the Sacred Heart missionary St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, who arrived in U.S. territory from France in 1818. She founded the first Catholic school for Native Americans. The Pottowami Indians called her the Woman Who Prays Always.

St. Damien de Veuster, the Belgian-born missionary to the lepers of Molokai, Hawaii, built schools, churches and hospitals for Leprosy sufferers. He also made coffins for those who died.

He contracted leprosy but served until his death in 1889.

The bishops’ conference list includes two people whom Pope Benedict XVI will canonize Oct. 21: Bl. Marianne Cope and Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha.

Bl. Marianne Cope, a Franciscan missionary to the lepers of Molokai, was born in Germany and raised in New York. She became a leader in health care in Syracuse, N.Y. before volunteering to care for the outcast in Hawaii. She helped women and girls with leprosy and helped educate them. She died in 1918.

Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, the “Lilly of the Mohawks,” converted to the Catholic faith in the 17th century at the age of 19. Her conversion angered her family. Her refusal to work on Sundays caused her Mohawk village to deny her meals that day. She left her family for Montreal where she could practice her faith freely. She took a vow of virginity and lived a life of penance and extreme prayer before her death in 1680.

The Year of Faith lasts from Oct. 11 through Nov. 24, 2013. It is meant to strengthen the faith of Catholics and to help evangelize. It marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962.


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