St. Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955

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Woman Category: Academy & Education, Philanthropy, and Religion & Ethnic CultureWoman Tags: Educator, NOLA Women, and Saint

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    St. Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955

    A missionary, philanthropist, Patron of racial justice, and the second US-born citizen to be canonized a Saint.

    Born in Philadelphia to a wealthy family. Her mother died five weeks after she was born, and her father remarried a few years later. She and her two sisters were homeschooled. They lived catholic life and were well known for their philanthropic work, regularly distributing food and clothing as well as rent assistance. The family used to travel throughout the US and Europe, where Kathrine became aware of the difficulties of the Native Americans and African-Americans in the country.
     
    After the death of her stepmother and her father very soon after, she was seeking for missionaries in Europe, to mission the Indian-Americans, and was offered by Pope Leo XIII to become one herself. At the age of 29, Drexel decided to become a nun, devoting herself as well as her inheritance to serve God and help the Indian-Americans and African-Americans in the US. She joined the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Pittsburgh, and at the age of 33, professed her vows, took the name ‘Mother Katharine’, and established a religious congregation called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored.
     
    By the time she died, Mother Katharine had established 145 missions, 62 schools for African-Americans and Native-Americans, and assisted in establishing the Xavier University of Louisiana – the only historically black Catholic college in the US. In 1988, 33 years after she passed away, Pope John Paul II beatified Katharine Drexel, and on October 1, 2000, she was canonized, one of the few US-born saints and the second natural-born US citizen Saint.
     

    “If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and them. Let us open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward and fear nothing”

    “If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and them. Let us open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward and fear nothing”

     

    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • The Drexel (biological) sisters did not have any children, and their inheritance moved to charity orders set in their father’s will.
    • Together with 13 other women, she established the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, using her own summer house as a temporary convent.
    • Numerous churches, Catholic parishes, and streets throughout the US were named St. Katharine Drexel in her honor.
    • St. Katharine Drexel Day is celebrated on March 3rd.
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    St. Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955

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  • St. Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955

    Woman Tags: Educator, NOLA Women, Saint
     

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    Saint Katharine Drexel, The Holy Heiress: The Early Years

    Born into extreme wealth, Katharine Drexel grew up a child of privilege and no one would likely have guessed she would one day be a nun much less a saint. FYI Philly tells her inspiring story.

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