A little over 150 years ago Jesuit priests accompanied several thousand Potawattomie Indians from the Great Lakes area to Linn County Kansas. This westward expulsion of the Indians was a continuation of the US Government policy to vacate land for the use of white settlers. Many of this tribe were baptized Catholics and thus they established a Christian community with a church at this settlement, St. Marys of Sugar Creek.
Several years later, nuns from St. Charles, Missouri came to educate the Indian children. Among them was Rose Philippine Duchesne, who in 1988 was canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II.
St. Philippine was a French nun of the Sacred Heart congregation. She was already in her early 70's and in poor health when she came to Kansas, but her love of God and the American Indian instilled in her the desire to serve. The Indians knew her as Quah-Kah-Ka-Num-Ad, the Woman who prays always.
O God, who lovest souls and hast in all ages chosen apostolic hearts and endowed them with Thy knowledge and Thy love, hear the prayers which we offer through the intercession of Thy servant Blessed Saint Philippine Duchesne. Kindle in us the zeal with which her life was consumed, and grant that after following her example in charity, self-denial and prayer on earth, we may be admitted one day to the same glory in our heavenly country. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
To memorialize the lives and work of these early Kansas settlers the original site of this community has been preserved as a park and shrine as a spiritual, educational and recreational facility for the public.
A fort-style gate to visualize the frontier days of the mid 1800's enhances the entrance to the area. Following that is a memorial recording the "Trail of Death", the many weeks of misery and death, which brought the Indians to Kansas. At the site of the original church a massive altar and cross have been erected. Nearby in an open field there is a seven cross memorial listing the names of over 600 baptized Indian Catholics buried there during the few years they were allowed to live at the site. Adjoining the altar and cross are the foundation remnants of the original buildings, which housed the priests and nuns. With each there is a detailed historical marker. Abutting this is the beginning of several nature trails that one can explore to get a better understanding as to why the Indians chose this area as their new home. A shelter house, rest rooms, and meeting hall are available for the public's use.
There are four additional sites in the area of significant interest. The Linn County Historical Museum in Pleasanton has a large collection of artifacts and displays from the earliest days of Kansas settlers plus a full record of the Civil War battle, which took place in the area. South of Pleasanton is the location of the Civil War battle at Mine Creek. This area has been designated for a major upgrade. At Mound City you have the second oldest County Court House in Kansas, and the Catholic Church, which features some beautiful stained glass windows depicting the life of St. Philippine Duchesne. Finally, at Trading Post, there is a museum with many interesting memorabilia of early Kansas.
More information about the Shrine can be found at http://www.potawatomi-tda.org/kansas/stphilip.htm
Google Map Location: Click Here Address to use with GPS: 8499 west 1525 Road Centerville Kansas,66014
St Rose Philippine Duchesne