Feast of St. Katharine Drexel (March 3)   1 comment

An 1898 Photograph of St. Benedict the Moor School (for which St. Katharine Drexel paid), St. Augustine, Florida

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Nun


Founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

The call to follow God is the vocation to live for others.  The details of this kind of life vary according to who one is, where one is, which gifts and talents one has, and what God wants one to do.  For St. Katharine Drexel the vocation to life for others entailed entering monastic life, giving up her large financial inheritance, and founding a religious order.

The saint came from a wealthy Philadelphia banking family devoted to philanthropy.  Katharine gave money to help African Americans and Native Americans was laudable, but decided to do more.  She had discerned a call to monastic life by 1878, but did much good work before entering phase of her life.  Father James O’Connor, a family friend who had become Bishop of Omaha, enlisted the saint’s aid in resolving disputes between white settlers and Native Americans in the Dakotas in 1885.  Afterward, Katharine and her sisters founded the Drexel Chair of Moral Theology at Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Pope Leo XIII encouraged the saint to become a missionary in 1887.  Encouraged by the Holy Father, Katharine joined the Sisters of Mary.  She devoted the rest of her life to serving God and helping African Americans and Native Americans.  As part of this effort, she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891, the same year her uncle, Anthony Drexel, founded Drexel University, at Philadelphia.   The saint founded many schools for ethnic and racial minorities.  Among her legacies in Xavier University (founded in 1915), a HBCU at New Orleans, Orleans.  St. Katherine was quite generous, giving approximately $20 million (her money, not adjusted for inflation) to the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

The saint worked actively with her order until 1935, when a heart attack forced her to assume a lower profile.  She spent the remaining two decades of her life in an advisory capacity, dying on March 3, 1955, aged 97 years.  Pope John Paul II canonized her in 2000.





Now, collect I have composed and readings I have selected:

Blessed Lord, we thank you for the holy life of your servant, St. Katharine Drexel, who sought to do the most she could to help members of despised minority groups.  May we, inspired by her example, love all your children and work for the common good, according to how you direct us.  In the name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 26:1-15 (“My father was a wandering Aramean.”)

Psalm 146 (“The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down.”)

James 2:1-26 (“…faith was brought to completion by the works.”)

Mark 9:33-37 (“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me….”)


Revised on December 23, 2016


One response to “Feast of St. Katharine Drexel (March 3)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of Augustus Tolton (July 10) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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