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October 19

Their mission was to New France, but these missionaries found in present-day New York State and the province of Ontario a world wildly different from the homes they left behind. Six Jesuit priests, Fathers Isaac Jogues (1560-1646), John de Brébeuf (1593-1649), Anthony Daniel, Gabriel Lalemant, Charles Garnier, and Noël Chabanel and Jesuit lay volunteers René Goupil and John LaLande—shared the gospel with the Native Americans they met, in languages they painstakingly learned, and through images they creatively adapted to the indigenous cultures (for example, John de Brébeuf’s “ ’Twas in the Moon of Wintertime: the Huron Carol”). But their evangelization was caught up in turmoil beyond their control: a smallpox epidemic, battles between French and English trading interests—the traders united only by their willingness to exploit the Native Americans—and conflict among the tribes themselves, Huron, Mohawk, Iroquois. The missionaries’ perseverance despite exhausting hardships, their steadfast courage in facing unspeakable tortures, and undaunted love even for those who martyred them, bore fruit, immediately in Kateri Tekakwitha’s sanctity, eventually in the Catholicism that still flourishes in the United States and Canada.