Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 3 March – St Katharine Drexel

Saint of the Day – 3 March – St Katharine Drexel S.B.S (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament) (1858-1955-AGED 96) – was an American heiress, philanthropist, religious sister, missionary, educator, and foundress. She was canonised by the Roman Catholic Church in 2000; her feast day is observed on March 3. She is the only canonised saint to have been born a United States citizen – Patron of Philanthropy, racial justice

 

 

Francis A. Drexel, a world-­renowned banker and a man of faith, provided his family a life of ease.    And Emma Bouvier, her stepmother, trained Katharine and her two sisters in generous giving.    Mrs. Drexel believed God gave wealth to the family to aid others and regularly involved her daughters in distributing food, medicine, clothing and rent money to the poor.    The experience shaped Katharine’s future.

As a rich girl, Katharine also had a grand debut into society.   But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death and her life took a profound turn.  Both parents died by 1885, leaving Katharine and her sisters to share the annual income from a fourteen-­million-­dollar estate.   Right away Katharine began to donate thousands of dollars to the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions for the construction and staffing of schools for Native American children, which became her life’s passion.   Katharine had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Century of Dishonour.   While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor.   The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?”   His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities.

Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions.

At this time, however, Katharine’s spirit was in turmoil. Bishop James O’Connor, her spiritual director, thought she should remain a single woman serving in the world.   But she wished to become a contemplative nun.   “My heart is very sorrowful, she wrote him in 1886, because like the little girl who wept when she found that her doll was stuffed with sawdust and her drum was hollow, I, too, have made a horrifying discovery and my discovery like hers is true. I have ripped both the doll and the drum open and the fact lies plainly and in all its glaring reality before me: All, all, all (there is no exception) is passing away and will pass away.”

In 1891, Katharine resolved the tension by founding a new religious community, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Coloured People, that combined prayer and social action.   By 1904, 104 sisters had joined her.  After three and a half years of training, Mother Drexel and her first band of nuns–Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Coloured–opened a boarding school in Santa Fe.    A string of foundations followed.   By 1942, she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools.   Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania.   In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states.

1-2-89e-25-explorepahistory-a0h5t0-a_349

Two saints met when Mother Drexel was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her order’s Rule approved in Rome.   Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans.

Katharine established 145 Catholic missions and twelve schools for Native Americans and fifty schools for blacks.   During her lifetime she gave away about twenty million dollars, mostly for these causes.

In 1935, Katharine suffered a severe heart attack.   Two years later she retired and got her heart’s desire—eighteen years of quiet contemplation before she died in 1955 at age ninety-­six.

 

 

Advertisements

Author:

Passionate Catholic. Being Catholic is a way of life - a love affair both with God and Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, our most Blessed and Beloved Virgin Mother Mary and the Church. "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. This is a papal fidelity site. Loyal and Obedient to the Current Pope and to the Magisterium United With Him.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s