Groups work to get reliquary of saint back to area

FONDA- Catholics are hoping Saint Kateri Tekakwitha’s reliquary, which was accidentally auctioned off in 2005, can make its way back to her birthplace.

A GoFundMe fundraiser titled “Rescue Saint Kateri Reliquary” was created 10 days ago when Bill Jacobs – the co-founder and president of the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center in Wading River, Suffolk County – was notified the reliquary was purchased by an an anonymous buyer at an auction. Jacobs was trying to recover the purchaser’s cost of $3,675.

According to the GoFundMe page, “It is permissible to buy a reliquary to ‘rescue’ a relic inside from mistreatment or other unworthy purposes. The goal of the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center is to protect this sacred relic from desecration and profanation, and to return it to the church.”

As of this morning, $3,439 has been raised.

Jacobs was unable to be reached for comment.

The relic is a bone of Tekakwitha, who is the patron saint of the environment and ecology.

Joey Caruso, former fundraising chair of The Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, said there is no need to continue to raise funds.

“I called my fellow Jesuit friends and they said they were on top of it and working on getting back,” Caruso said.

He said the contents of a retreat house at the Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville was auctioned off in 2005. The missing relic came to light when it was trying to be resold.

“It should of never gotten misplaced. Someone bought the contents of a retreat house and didn’t know what they had. This is the bone of a saint. Any caring Catholic would give it back,” Caruso said.

Caruso said the Jesuits have been in contact with the purchaser.

“They are aware of what took place. They will be getting it back to either shrine,” Caruso said.

The Jesuit Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville and the National Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine in Fonda are two of the facilities in the local area that honor the saint.

Friar Mark Steed, director of the shrine in Fonda, said although they have a small relic, it would be nice to get this one.

“Some people don’t know or appreciate what it is. We appreciate having them [relics] because it’s a spiritual communication with the person. The spirit of the person is still there,” Steed said.

Chris Hallenbeck, grand knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 265 in Gloversville, said the relic is important in the history of the catholic church.

“It’s meaningful, and it’s important for her remains to find their way home,” Hallenbeck said.

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