Just before the dismissal at Mass on Sunday, July 11, five children from the Reserve mission school performed a prayerful butterfly dance in honor of the saint who is the patron of ecology and the environment. (Submitted photo)

When St. Kateri Tekakwitha’s July 14 feast day falls on a weekday, the Catholic community at St. Francis Solanus Church in Reserve celebrates the Native American saint on the Sunday before the feast.

Each year, the parish does something different to celebrate St. Kateri, whose patronage also includes people in exile, people ridiculed for their faith, those who have lost parents and Native Americans. For 2021, the Butterfly Dance was chosen.

“We have Kateri all over,” the school’s principal, Sr. Felissa Zander, SSSF, said as she introduced the dance, calling attention to St. Kateri’s shrine at the parish as well as the first-class relic of the saint displayed in the altar.
She continued, “St. Kateri, revered as the mystic of the American wilderness, flowering lily of prayer and holiness, keep us the children of nature… strong, brave and young. Teach us the patience of the turtle, give us the vision of the eagle, instill in us the beauty of the butterfly.”

With the rhythmic shaking of maracas and metallic dress jingles and beating of drums, two of the girls danced in representation of butterfly blessings coming on wings honoring St. Kateri. One girl used three hoops, while another used a silver shawl with colorful fringe to show that butterflies are each special and different.

While the dancers knelt before the altar, with heads bowed to the ground, another two in Native dresses stood on either side, with the drummer standing nearby. Sr. Felissa chanted, “Walking in the steps of Kateri, maid of Mohawk and Algonquin tribe, we are walking in the spirit, Jesus at our side.”