J.M.J. Born in Philadelphia in 1858, Katharine Mary Drexel hailed from great faith and great wealth. Her uncle was the founder of Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Young Katharine professed Religious Vows and eventually established—in 1891, with ecclesiastical approbation and the assistance of Archbishop James O’Connor of Omaha—“The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People.” Today, this Religious Institute is commonly referred to as “The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.”
This zealous Religious was responsible for the opening of multiple schools, nearly sixty, including Xavier University in New Orleans.
God summoned Katharine to Himself on March 3, 1955 at the age of ninety-six.
Mother Katharine was beatified in 1988 by Saint John Paul II and canonized in 2000 during the Great Jubilee by the same Roman Pontiff. She is the second American born Saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton having been canonized in 1975 by Blessed Pope Paul VI.
Saint Katharine’s liturgical Memorial, that is her Feast, is today—March 3rd.
In Sioux Falls, our newest parish is named after this remarkable woman.
In the official biography offered by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which is present on the Website of the Holy See (www.vatican.va), we read:
"In her quiet way, Katharine combined prayerful and total dependence on Divine Providence with determined activism. Her joyous incisiveness, attuned to the Holy Spirit, penetrated obstacles and facilitated her advances for social justice. Through the prophetic witness of Katharine Drexel’s initiative, the Church in the United States was enabled to become aware of the grave domestic need for an apostolate among Native Americans and Afro-Americans. She did not hesitate to speak out against injustice, taking a public stance when racial discrimination was in evidence."
Furthermore, according to our source:
"Katharine left a four-fold dynamic legacy to her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who continue her apostolate today, and indeed to all peoples:
– her love for the Eucharist, her spirit of prayer, and her Eucharistic perspective on the unity of all peoples;
– her undaunted spirit of courageous initiative in addressing social iniquities among minorities . . . ;
– her belief in the importance of quality education for all, and her efforts to achieve it;
– her total giving of self, of her inheritance and all material goods in selfless service of the victims of injustice."
Mary, Our Mother and the Mother of Saint Katharine Mary Drexel, pray for us.