Perhaps you have been busy having fun in the sun and missed the big news.
On August 3rd, a pilgrimage was organized by a gifted seminarian, Joseph Moreshead. Young and old alike walked along the Kennebec River to honor Father Sebastian Rale, a Jesuit missionary who lived among the Abenaki people for thirty years and was massacred by British soldiers 295 years ago.
It was a perfect summer day with a gentle breeze rolling off the river. As I walked with other pilgrims, it was hard to imagine that on this spot, a holy priest and an estimated 80 indigenous people were killed in a bloody ambush. As some of you may know, I wrote a book for young readers telling this story of faith and courage. It is entitled Martyrs-a work of historical fiction for ages 10-14. On this calm summer day, we walked in Father Rale’s footsteps, along with another Jesuit, Father Paul Sullivan.
As we stood at the foot of a large granite monument marking the spot where Father Rale died, Father Sullivan made a stunning announcement. Our bishop and the superior general of the Jesuit order have given approval to move Father Rale’s cause for canonization forward. Documentation will be presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If Father Rale is beatified and declared a martyr…Maine will have a full-fledged saint.
This holy man has been a subject of controversy over the years-accused of being a political agitator. I believe this is an erroneous portrayal. Father Rale never sought to stir up trouble, but he always stood up for Indian land rights and religious freedom for the Abenakis. With the recent canonization of Father Oscar Romero-also accused of political agitation-a major stumbling block for Father Rale’s cause was removed.
My book Martyrs will soon be an audio book, narrated by Benjamin Stanton – a talented voice artist who has a knack for bringing stories to life.
Martyrs is also being considered for the Catholic Writer’s Guild Seal of Approval. Check out this blog and my facebook for more exciting developments in the cause of Father Sebastian Rale and news about Martyrs.