Earlier this year, the Kateri Catholic School System was formed, uniting St. Thomas Aquinas and Sacred Heart schools in Toledo, St. Jerome School in Walbridge and Cardinal Stritch High School with the nine parishes in the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Deanery of the Diocese of Toledo.
The mission was clear – to ensure a sustained commitment to the high standards of Catholic education in Toledo and its surrounding eastern communities. But just who was Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha?
In search of an effective and engaging way to introduce the patron to students, faculty, staff, parents and the community, school leaders last week took off on a weeklong motorcycle adventure dubbed “The Kateri Pilgrimage.”
Father David Reinhart, president of Kateri Catholic School System, along with three friends of the schools, hit the road Sept. 21 following an all-school Mass and a blessing of the motorcycles.
The five-day motorcycle included stops in southern Canada and upstate New York – places where Kateri lived from 1656-1680.
During the pilgrimage, the entourage visited St. Francis Xavier Church and The Shrine of the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in Kahnawake, Canada, where she is buried; the National Kateri Shrine in Fonda, N.Y.; and the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, N.Y., which is near her birthplace.
Creating an interactive experience was a crucial component during the planning of the pilgrimage.
“The name Kateri is new not only to our students, teachers and parents but also to this community,” Fr. Reinhart said. “The intent of the pilgrimage is to provide insight into the life of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, our patron, in an interactive way that will engage students and teachers in the classroom as well as the community as a whole.
“Although only four people will be traveling to the places where Kateri lived, it is important that we make it feel as if everyone is on the trip with us,” Fr. Reinhart said before setting out. “We will be using sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to document the entire experience by writing about the places we visit and the people we meet and posting videos and photos. That way, our teachers and students can be part of the pilgrimage throughout the week.”
Those interested were able to track Fr. Reinhart throughout the journey through the Kateri Pilgrimage page on Facebook, which included maps from Loopt showing their exact location, and following him on Twitter, @osufrdave. The Facebook status updates and Twitter tweets were also accessible online www.katerischools.org.
The pilgrimage was set to conclude the afternoon of Sept. 25 at at Cardinal Stritch High School, when Fr. Dave and his companions returned to a school assembly.
Fr. Dave Reinhart, along with Pat McAlear, Mike Wilson and Kurt Ross, who are friends of Kateri Schools, circled Lake Erie and Ontario on motorcycles to learn more about Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the patroness of the newly formed Kateri Catholic School System.