From Dance Hall to Spiritual Retreat: Tekakwitha Woods’ Fascinating History Revealed June 2

From Dance Hall to Spiritual Retreat: Tekakwitha Woods’ Fascinating History Revealed June 2

From dance hall to spiritual retreat center, Tekakwitha Woods has a fascinating history.

Now, you can learn about the origin of the preserve’s name, its cultural history and ecology. Nature Programs Manager Valerie Blaine lived on-site at Tekakwitha for four years. She will provide information on the land and other local knowledge from 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, at Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve in St. Charles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 5.00.08 PMThe program is part of the Forest Preserve District’s “Sense of Place” and “Learn from the Experts” series. This program is offered through a partnership with the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, St. Charles Park District and Geneva Park District.

Registration is $10 per person. Call 630-444-3190 or email<> to register.

A full list of upcoming Forest Preserve District nature programs is provided on this page of the Kane County Forest Preserve District website.

About Tekakwitha

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, also known as the Lily of the Mohawks, converted at the age of 19, heedless of the anger of her relatives. Because she refused to work on Sundays, she was denied meals that day in the Mohawk village. Finally, a missionary encouraged her to run away to Montreal, where she practiced her faith freely and lived a life of extreme prayer and penance, taking a vow of virginity. She died in 1680.

SOURCE: Catholic Voices blog, Wikipedia

About Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve

This 65-acre site at the big bend of the Fox River is rich in natural and cultural history.  An oak tree at Tekakwitha dates to 1864 and links us to its ancestors’ past on the edge of the prairie.  On the lee side of the Fox River, the area now known as Tekakwitha Woods was protected from the heat of the prairie fires and was likely forested for thousands of years.  Today, the natural features of Tekakwitha Woods include an oak-maple forest on the uplands, floodplain forest along the river, and restored prairie in former farm fields.

In the early 1900s, Father Hugh McGuire of St. James Parish in Chicago purchased a plot of land in the countryside, now Saint Charles. Before he passed away, he bequeathed the land to the Sisters of Mercy.  The Sisters owned and managed the property for eight decades, using it as a spiritual retreat center and a place to minister to people in need.

The Forest Preserve District purchased the land from the religious order in 1992. The Sisters requested that the site be named in honor of 17th century Mohawk Indian Kateri Tekakwitha, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 21, 2012.

A network of foot trails winds through the fields and forested ravines of the preserve. In spring, the forest floor is carpeted with wildflowers and the trees are filled with birds. In summer, the wooded trails provide cool shade and enjoyable wildlife viewing. The autumn foliage is spectacular in the woods and on the prairie. Winter brings a stark beauty of its own and snowfall provides excellent wildlife tracking.

The Fox River Trail runs along the eastern boundary of the forest preserve, along the former Elgin-Aurora trolley line. Walking trails include grass footpaths and handicap-accessible asphalt trails.

SOURCE: Kane County Forest Preserve District

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