Blog Template Theology of the Body: St. Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955

Monday, March 03, 2008

St. Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955

Saint Katharine Drexel, Religious (Feast Day-March 3) was born in 1858 to a prominent Philadelphia family. Her apellation "St. Katherine, Virgin," stands as a sturdy reminder to modern times that in the economy of the Church, there are no such things as "singletons;" her army of religious daughters lived in espousal to Christ, for the motherhood of the needy, with supreme joy, and, as St. Augustine puts it, eternal priority in Heaven.

Katharine became imbued with love for God and neighbor. She took an avid interest in the material and spiritual well-being of black and native Americans. She began by donating money but soon concluded that more was needed - the lacking ingredient in the service of the poor was people. So Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People, whose members would work for the betterment of those they were called to serve. From the age of 33 until her death in 1955, she dedicated her life and a fortune of 20 million dollars to this work.

In 1894, Mother Drexel took part in opening the first mission school for Indians, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Other schools quickly followed - for Native Americans west of the Mississippi River, and another for African Americans in the southern part of the United States. In 1915 she also founded Xavier University in New Orleans.

At her death there were more than 500 Sisters teaching in 63 schools throughout the country. Katharine was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 20, 1988.

Kindness has converted more people than zeal, science, or eloquence. Holiness grows so fast where there is kindness. The world is lost for want of it. Let us conquer the world by our love.

-Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta