He added that Antonio Cuipa "was a fearless evangelist" who "had great patience and zeal that brought countless natives to ask for baptism."
Following the Mass, Chris Stavres, president of the Martyrs of La Florida Missions Board, read from Antonio Cuipa's will, which set aside funds to support places of pilgrimage in the Holy Land.
The cause for canonization is in the diocesan phase, with information being gathered to be sent to Rome.
Sheedy said there are historical documents of the martyrs, including records from Clement XI and Philip V of Spain, who declared a feast day for the martyrs of La Florida in 1743. Sheedy added that that it is likely the cause will soon progress to the next stage.
Sheedy said this is an important project for the Church in Florida and the southeastern United States, because of its ties to the history of the land. He said it also contradicts popular claims about Spanish colonial imperialism, noting that these Native Americans were not forced into the faith but willingly gave their lives out of love for Christ.
"What's so exciting about the cause … is that it's the Native Americans who had embraced the faith," he said. "These people weren't forced to convert. They embraced the faith, they died for the faith because of love for God."
"It does serve as a source of inspiration and encouragement for those of us who have followed them … that there are others who have walked this journey ahead of us who confronted great challenges and persevered. Somehow that gives us hope, encourages us, and inspires us to continue."