Saint Katharine Drexel
Happy Saint Katharine Drexel Day! Every time I see her name I think of March Madness and the Drexel Dragons' Men’s Basketball team. Right now they are 6th in the Colonial Conference. Saint Katharine Drexel is not the patroness of men’s college basketball. She is the patroness of philanthropists and racial justice, and the foundress of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Saint Katharine founded Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic University for those of Black African decent, and forty-eight other foundations to help Native Americans and others in need. She grew up in Philadelphia and was from a wealthy family.
Saint Katharine’s parents were very good to the poor and this instilled in her a desire to help those in need. Being in a wealthy family afforded them to travel. Once while visiting Rome, Saint Katharine’s family met with Pope Leo XIII, and Saint Katharine asked the Pope to send missionaries to help the neglected Native American Indians. The pope responded by saying, “My child, why don’t you become a missionary yourself?” She did just that! In 1891 she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and Saint Katharine donated 12 million of her inheritance to help the needy. Even though she grew up with great wealth and inherited a fortune, Saint Katharine lived as simply as she could. Her clothing was threadbare, she bought the least expensive railroad ticket, and carried her lunch in a brown bag. Saint Katharine went home to God in 1955 at the age of 96. She was canonized by Saint John Paul II on October 1st, 2000.
Saint Katharine Drexel devoted her life to living simply and serving the poor. Even though her father was a very successful international banker, her parents’ prayerfulness and care for the poor had quite an affect on her. May God bless and strengthen all our parents so they may always be a good example of Christian living to their children. God bless and stay safe!
Fr. Steve Breck
Pastor, St. Mary Magdalene