GLOVERSVILLE - While local shrines will be holding celebrations when Kateri Tekakwitha is made a saint in the Roman Catholic Church this Sunday, some local residents are heading to the Vatican to see the ceremony firsthand.
About 20 people left on a bus Tuesday from the Church of the Holy Spirit to begin their journey to Rome.
"We were very pleased and overjoyed that it happened in our lifetime," said the Rev. Donald Czelusniak, pastor of the Church of the Holy Spirit. He was among those leaving for Rome.
Local residents wait for a bus outside the Church of the Holy Spirit in Gloversville as they begin their trip to Rome to see the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha.
The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland
Kenneth Goldfarb, communications director at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, said 200 Catholics are leaving on a scheduled pilgrimage from Gloversville, Schenectady and Loudonville to Vatican City to see the first Native American woman be made a saint.
Goldfarb said Bishop Howard J. Hubbard would lead the pilgrims from the city of Assisi to Rome, visiting shrines and religious sites as well as the Roman Pantheon.
"The canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha is a unique event in the life of our church. She is the first Native American to be canonized; she is a daughter of the area which became our diocese," Hubbard said. "She stands also as a model for the unity of peoples and the ability of people with physical disabilities to bear witness to the gospel through a life of service."
The Rev. Rendell Torres, associate pastor at the Church of the Holy Spirit, also will be in Rome for the canonization.
A church newsletter says a St. Kateri icon will be hung permanently in the church after the ceremony.
Five other saints are to be canonized Sunday, including Sister Marianne Cope from Utica, who worked with lepers in Hawaii in the later 19th and early 20th century.
Katherine Nichols of Herkimer was preparing for the trip Tuesday and was excited to have the opportunity to attend.
"[The trip] is very organized, so we won't be missing anything," said Nichols, who never has been to Rome.
Nichols said she is excited about having an opportunity to see the St. Peter's Basilica.
"We're very excited to be going," added Judie Lasorella of Herkimer.
Lasorella said when she was a child, her Catholic school often would take trips to the Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville.
According to the National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in Fonda, Kateri was a convert to Christianity in 17th-century Fonda and was ostracized from her tribe for it.
She eventually escaped to Quebec, where she died at the age of 24.
After her death, witnesses reported the pock marks from smallpox that had covered her face had vanished. Pope Pius XII in 1943 declared this a miracle.
Supporters of Kateri's sainthood had submitted what they considered to be evidence of Kateri's sainthood, but it wasn't until 2006 that a second miracle was recognized by the church.
That year, a 6-year-old boy cut his lip during a basketball game in Washington state. The boy's face swelled and he developed a high fever and a life- threatening infection, according to the Catholic Church.
A representative of the Society of Blessed Kateri went to the hospital and placed a pendant depicting Kateri on the boy's pillow. By the next day, the infection stopped progressing and the boy recovered, according to the Catholic Church.
Investigators from the Vatican researched the incident for three years, and in February, Pope Benedict XVI approved it as a miracle attributed to Kateri's intervention.
Locally on Sunday, the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville will have a 2 p.m. Mass of Thanksgiving that day in the coliseum for Kateri.
In addition, there will be an art exhibit by artist Bob Renaud, who has several pieces in the Vatican's collection.
St. Kateri exhibits and video documentaries will be shown from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Saints of Auriesville Museum.
Earlier in the day, the National Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in Fonda will celebrate a Mass at 10 a.m. Oct. 21. There also will be a display of relics during a procession.