Yes, the sun did break through just before communion this morning at the Kateri Shrine in Fonda, and stayed out for the rest of its first post-canonization Mass. The shrine is smaller than Auriesville's across the Mohawk River, which also has a link to the newly sainted Kateri Tekakwitha. The Fonda shrine seems to have stronger connections to Native Americans -- including Kateri -- and peace advocates, and less to the Albany Diocese. But it's still an official Roman Catholic shrine run by Franciscans, one of whom acting as tour guide proudly noted the order's connections to both Kateri and the other upstater canonized today, Marianne Cope. Mohawks from Syracuse sung a hypnotic hymn about Kateri, mostly in the Indian language, all through the long communion. Earlier, the sermon was about the "still point" deep within the saint, and the rest of us, where she found her joy and God.
I did run into a few sometime Albanians, including John Funiciello, whom I'd worked with back in the mid-1980s to organize The Post-Star. He listened sympathetically as I bemoaned the tactics of the labor movement, i.e. the Communication Workers who refused to launch an organizing campaign at the Gazette a few years ago because we hadn't lined up 80 percent of the workers in advance. The CWA had the self-defeating theory that the union side would be bound to lose support in the election campaign, although at The Post-Star we'd picked up steam as we went.
John traced labor's problems back to the 1955 merger of the AFL-CIO, identifying as he does with the CIO side. Our lamenting the state of newspapers, labor and issue-light politics (although I tactfully did not bring up my own, largely abortion-based, rightward drift) was interrupted by John spotting a friend, John Amidon, fresh from beating the rap for protesting nuclear missiles in Colorado. Funiciello, by the way, maintains ties to The Solidarity Committee of the Capital District, and has another outlet for his views.
And then there are the more personal politics of religion. It was a happy crowd of a thousand-plus, I estimate, at the shrine (and many more than that reportedly at Auriesville). My day's good cheer was reinforced at home by getting a Facebook link to Kateri from my turned-Protestant daughter. I'd debated buying her 7-year-old stepdaughter a saints book in the gift shop, but figured it was too Catholic, so purchased a Kateri prayer card and medal instead, along with the very beautiful San Damiano cross, reproduced from the one St. Francis prayed to, which now hangs in the Assisi church of St. Clare, which was my daughter's confirmation name. No objections to sending that, eh?
Update: "The Saints of Upstate New York" documentary now showing on Albany-area Channel 9, YNN -- started Sunday at 8 p.m.