Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
October 8, 2001
Seven women and a van
Dene group from N. Alberta exudes deep devotion to St. Thérèse
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — St. Thérèse of Lisieux is a special saint for some people in Meander River, Alta., a Dene community of 400 near the Northwest Territories' border.
So special is she that with the community's blessing a group of seven women left for Edmonton Sept. 28 with the mission to see her remains and to ask her to pray for their people.
The group joined resources, jumped in a van and took turns driving for close to nine hours to St. Theresa Parish in Millwoods to fulfill their mission. "We left Friday at 8:30 p.m. and got here at 5 a.m. on Saturday," related an emotional Elizabeth Enfield, one of the travellers.
"We came because St. Thérèse is very special to us and because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we have to see her relics. It's worth the travelling."
Enfield, a mother of four, took a few extra minutes Sunday afternoon kneeling in front of the reliquary while those in the lineup observed. She had done the same thing Saturday night.
She prayed fervently while she applied a rosary and a bunch of small postcards with the saint's image to the reliquary's protective cover.
When she got up, tears flowed from her eyes. She looked back, did the sign of the cross and left the church with her head down, her right hand holding tightly a plastic bag filled with small portraits of the saint, a rosary and a little book of prayers. She plans to distribute some of the postcards among the women in her community.
Her niece and travel companion Kathleen Watsallie, 28, did as much when she rubbed a bunch of Kleenex against the reliquary to impregnate them with the saint's graces. She plans to distribute the napkins among family and friends.
"She is a great saint and, to me, we should all follow in her footsteps," she said. "If we imitate her, then we can all go to heaven as well."
Catholics in Meander River have a high respect for St. Thérèse and pray often for her intercession, the two women said. "She was very close to the Lord and we believe that through her the Lord touches us."
Touching the reliquary was a "unique" experience for Enfield. "I felt different, at peace," she said. "It does something to you. It's like a blessing."
From now on, Watsallie plans to look at things differently - with the eyes and heart of St. Thérèse, the Little Flower.
"I feel so at peace," she said after touching the reliquary. "It's an awesome feeling, like there is hope for everybody. She came in at a time of a lot of trouble for all of us."
Their mission accomplished, now the women plan to meet with other people in Meander River to relate their experiences and to talk at length about the merits of St. Thérèse, their special saint.
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