How the First Native American Saint Led Me to the Priesthood: A Priest’s Random Encounter with the ‘Lily of the Mohawks’

@frpatrickop, Twitter / Dieterkaupp / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) / ChurchPOP

July 14 is the feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the Catholic Church’s first Native American saint.

Dominican priest Fr. Patrick Hyde, OP, explained how this 17th-century saint led him to the priesthood. He explained how she was “orphaned at a young age, and under immense pressure to do otherwise, she gave her life to Christ.”

“Her life was totally different from my own, but her complete desire to give all things to Jesus resounded in my heart.”

Here’s his full story below:

@frpatrickop, Twitter
@frpatrickop, Twitter
@frpatrickop, Twitter
@frpatrickop, Twitter
@frpatrickop, Twitter
@frpatrickop, Twitter
@frpatrickop, Twitter
@frpatrickop, Twitter
@frpatrickop, Twitter
@frpatrickop, Twitter

Here’s the text of his Twitter thread:

“My devotion to St. Kateri Tekakwitha, or “How a Random Encounter with a Saint Changed My Life and Forced Me to Discern My Vocation Seriously:” A thread.

“In 2008, I started teaching seventh grade at St. Michael Indian School on the Navajo Reservation. Fresh out of college, untrained to be a teacher, moving to a new place, struggling deeply with sin, and desiring to give my life to Christ, I arrived on the Rez with a lot on my plate.

“I went to the Reservation because I made a deal with God: I would give Him one year of service to the poor and daily prayer. In exchange, at the end of the year, unless led otherwise, I will stop discerning priesthood, get married, have five kids, and live an upper, middle-class life.

“My first day on campus, I saw this beautiful statue of a Native American woman named ‘Blessed Kateri.’ I had never heard of her. As a Catholic, I figured it was good to have saints interceding on my behalf, so, knowing nothing about her, I began praying for her intercession.

“Within a few weeks of being on the Reservation, teaching, and praying everyday — simple prayer life really, back then, Rosary and Scripture in the morning, examination of conscience & bedtime prayers in the evening — my life began to unravel in the most delightful ways.

“The sins which had so enamored me became less attractive, even repugnant. The desire to be a priest, which I had rejected & resisted for years, was increasingly the only thing that made sense. Mass, which was something I always did, now became the absolute center of my life.

“Everyday I prayed for the intercession of this saint I hardly knew: Blessed Kateri. Finally, I relented and started to research her life. What I discovered me inspires me to this day. Orphaned at a young age & under immense pressure to do otherwise, she gave her life to Christ.

“Her life was totally different from my own, but her complete desire to give all things to Jesus resounded in my heart. She was praying for me and challenging me to imitate her total gift of self and everyday she watched over me as I walked into and out of school under her statue.

“I still pray with St. Kateri each day. Now, I pray for those on the Navajo Reservation who struggle with poverty and all of the ill effects that systemic poverty brings on a community. I have especially prayed for the Navajo as they’ve been wracked by COVID-19.

“In the end, the saints are our advocates, our friends, our brothers and sisters whose prayers echo eternally in the presence of God. I hope you will find a saint like St. Kateri who can help lead you from where you are to where God wants you to be next.

“St. Kateri, pray for us.”

[See also: 3 Priests Call For 40 Days of Prayer & Fasting to Drive Demonic Forces Out of America]

[See also: 8 Black Saints & Holy People of God Every Catholic Should Know, With Prayers for Intercession]