Jake Finkbonner was a critically ill 5-year-old when a relic of then-Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was placed on the pillow of his Seattle hospital bed and his family prayed for her intercession.
Close to death from a case of flesh-eating bacteria, Finkbonner immediately began to recover. The Most Rev. Joseph Tyson, bishop of the Yakima Diocese since May 2011, was then auxiliary bishop in Seattle and led the local process to verify that the recovery could not be explained by medical science.
The miraculous cure of Finkbonner, who is of Lummi Nation tribal descent, was the second miracle leading to the canonization of St. Kateri in October 2012.
Finkbonner, now 18 and a student at Western Washington University, will be the guest at a Mass honoring Kateri on Saturday in White Swan and a Mass and picnic Sunday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the reconstruction of the historic Ahtanum St. Joseph Mission Chapel. Tyson will be the celebrant at the Masses, and Finkbonner will attend both celebrations along with his parents, Donny and Elsa, to share his story, according to a news release from the Diocese of Yakima.
The Mass on Saturday to celebrate Kateri is set for 11 a.m. at St. Mary Parish, 360 Signal Peak Road. On Sunday, Mass will begin at 11 a.m. at the Mission site, 17740 Ahtanum Road, Yakima, on the south side of the road. Parking is free.
At 12:30 p.m. Sunday the Knights of Columbus will sponsor a celebration and potluck picnic, with hamburgers, hot dogs, beverages and condiments provided. Guests are asked to bring a hot dish, salad or dessert to share. Games will follow.
The daughter of a Mohawk chief and a Catholic Algonquin mother, Kateri was born in 1656 in Auriesville, N.Y. At age 4, a smallpox epidemic killed her parents and younger brother. She was left partially blind and her face scarred with pock marks.
Kateri was raised by her aunt and uncle and later became a devout Catholic. She performed many physical sacrifices and penances that eventually affected her health. She died at 24 near Montreal. It is said that moments after she died, the pock mocks vanished from her face.
She is buried in Kahnawake, Quebec.
She was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 21, 2012.
The Ahtanum Mission was established in 1852 on 677 acres near Ahtanum Creek after three French priests — the Revs. George Blanchet, Charles Pandosy and Casimir Chirouse of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate — arrived in the Yakima Valley in 1847. They had come at the request of Chief Owhi, who promised them protection in return for teaching the tribes that would later form the Yakama Nation.
They founded the mission at the request of Owhi’s nephew and Yakama Chief Kamiakin. It was the fifth mission established by the order in Central Washington, and the first in the Yakima Valley. While there, Pandosy created the first Sahaptin dictionary, as well as taught French, Latin and English to the Yakama.
The log chapel is the larger of the two historic buildings on the 12-acre grounds. Constructed in 1869 under the supervision of Father Louis Napoleon St. Onge, it replaced an earlier structure destroyed by soldiers who reportedly thought the missionary priests were supplying gunpowder to Native warriors. That allegation was later disproved.
Formally dedicated in 1871, the chapel is in the shape of a cross, built of logs with dovetailed joints. It seats about 100 people. The cross over the altar is said to have been made from a single branch of one of the Mission apple trees. The chapel also features a statue of Kateri.
The mission has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.