Saturday, 3 March 2007
Blessed Katharine Drexel
Blessed Katharine Drexel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 26, 1858. Katharine's mother died when she was a baby. Her father married a wonderful woman named Emma. She raised their own child, Louise. She was also a loving mother to Mr. Drexel's two little girls by his former marriage. They were Elizabeth and Katharine. The girls had a wonderful childhood. Even though their family was wealthy, they were taught to be loving toward their neighbors. They were taught to be especially concerned about the poor. This was how they could show their love for God. When Katharine grew up, she was a very active Catholic. She was generous with her time and her money. She realized that the Church had many needs. She turned her energies and her fortune to the poor, the forgotten. Her work for Jesus would be among the African American and Native American people. In 1891, Katharine began a new religious community of missionaries. They were called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Katharine would become known as Mother Katharine. The sisters of her order center their life around Jesus in the Eucharist. They devote their love and talents to African and Native Americans. Mother Katharine inherited her family's fortune. She poured the money into wonderful works of charity. She and her sisters started schools, convents and missionary churches. In 1925, they established Xavier University in New Orleans. During her long, fruitful lifetime, Mother Katharine spent millions of dollars of the Drexel fortune for the wonderful works that she and her sisters accomplished for the poor. She believed that she found Jesus truly present in the Eucharist. So, too, she found him in the African and Native Americans whom she lovingly served. Mother Katharine died on March 3, 1955, at the age of ninety-seven. She was declared "blessed" by Pope John Paul II on November 20, 1988. Who are those in need or marginalized that I might be called to help? What does it feel like to be detached from things so that I have more room for God?