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Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha tapped for sainthood

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 21st, 2011
Catholic Online (

Pope Benedict XVI has decreed that a Washington state boy who was afflicted with the flesh-eating bacteria and was miraculously cured can be attributed to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. If she is canonized, Kateri will become the first American Indian saint in the Catholic Church.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Monsignor Paul A. Lenz, the vice postulator for the cause of Blessed Kateri, confirmed this week Kateri's link to Jake Finkbonner.

"They didn't think any of their medical expertise was the cure," Lenz explained. "They thought every night he was going to die." Doctors who treated Jake, as well as a committee of doctors at the Vatican had all arrived at the same grim conclusion.

After Jake fell and bumped his mouth in the closing moments of a basketball game in February of 2006, necrotizing fasciitis, or Strep A, invaded his body and bloodstream through that small cut, and the aggressive bacteria raced across his cheeks, eyelids, scalp and chest as doctors worked desperately to stop its spread.

Doctors surgically removed his damaged flesh daily. Jake spent nine weeks at Seattle Children's hospital, where doctors prepared the family several times for what they believed to be the boy's impending demise. 

As Jake lay near death, longtime family friend the Reverend Tim Sauer advised his parents to pray to Blessed Kateri, patroness for American Indians for her intercession. Finkbonner is of Lummi descent.

The Vatican has decided Jake's recovery was a miracle that is beyond the explanation of medicine and that could be attributed to the intercession on his behalf by Blessed Kateri, who was born in 1656.

His family, all devout Catholics believes that there's no question that a miracle occurred. "In my heart, in all of us, we've always found that Jake's recovery, his healing and his survival truly was a miracle. As far as Blessed Kateri becoming a saint, it's honorable to be a part of that process," Elsa Finkbonner said.

Jake, currently a sixth-grader at Assumption Catholic School in Bellingham was reportedly excited by the news and also the opportunity to attend a ceremony for the canonization.

"He's excited to meet the pope. I think that's going to be the icing on the cake for him," Elsa Finkbonner said.

For American Indian Catholics, Blessed Kateri's canonization was a cause for celebration. "It's been a long time coming for the Indians across the country. A lot of people are happy today. ... It's something that we've all been waiting for," Henry Cagey, a former Lummi tribal chairman who is active at St. Joachim Catholic Church on the Lummi Reservation says.

"I'm happy today for the Finkbonners. I'm happy today for Native American Catholics, especially. It's a celebration of faith. God continues to work in our lives and the world today. God continues to work miracles," Reverend Sauer, who is now the pastor at St. Bridget Church in Seattle says.

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