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PATH TO SAINTHOOD:Kateri Tekakwitha and Marianne Cope make five saints for our area
Several hundred people left Syracuse and Albany on Tuesday with Bishops Cunningham and Hubbard to make a pilgrimage to Italy where two local women are set to become saints this weekend, bringing the total number of saints from the Mohawk Valley to five.
North America claims ten saints in the Roman Catholic Church, and on Sunday, that number goes up with the addition of Mother Marianne Cope and Katari Tekakwitha. Tekakwitha will make a total of four saints from the Albany Diocese, joining three Jesuit missionaries who were killed by Mohawk Indians in the 1600s.
It's an impressive lineup and a rare occurrence for any one area.
"I don't know of another place in the United States where there are four canonized saints," said Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of the Albany Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. "So it's very unusual, plus we have two in the hopper. We have Father Peyton, the head of the Family Rosary Crusade, who started in Albany. His cause is now being presented and Mother Angeline Theresa McCrory, who was a founder of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Affirmed, which operates nursing homes in Albany, Utica and Syracuse. She is being considered for beatification now. She was just declared venerable by our Holy Father this past year."
There is also Mother Marianne Cope, who helped found St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica. While she is now considered part of the Syracuse Diocese, at the time of her work, she was part of the Albany Diocese.
"I do, out of pride want to say, while Syracuse is claiming Mother Marianne Cope, and rightly so, when she first started her ministry in Utica and Syracuse, that was still part of the Diocese of Albany," Bishop Hubbard said. "It was only later on in her career that Syracuse was broken off from Albany. So while Syracuse claims her, we have a strong bond to her as well."
Bishop Hubbard and a few hundred people from the Albany Diocese departed on Tuesday to head to Rome, Italy, where things will come full circle for him. He was the person who presented Pope John Paul II with the cause of Kateri Tekakwitha, more than thirty years ago in 1980.
"I will probably concelebrate the liturgy with the Pope," Bishop Hubbard said. "When I went for the beatification, I didn't know until that morning that i was actually going to be the presenter of her cause. So, sometimes things in Rome are, comme ci comme ça, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens, but I certainly will be concelebrant at the liturgy."
Three saints down, two more to come on Sunday, and two more local possibilities in the future. It makes for an impressive holy resume for the Mohawk Valley, and a sense of great joy for many.
"Well, I think the most enjoyable part is to see the joy of the people who have been praying to Kateri through the years to know that now she has been declared a saint of God," Bishop Hubbard said. "Also, she is the first Native American saint. To have her as a role model to the Native American Community in the United States is a source of great joy."