Faithful Friday: Katherine Drexel

By T.K. Wilson (Rated G)

Katherine Drexel was born to an exceedingly wealthy banking family in 1858. Though her family was rich, Katherine and her siblings were taught that everything was only on loan to them from God. Her mother cared for the poor and her father spent long periods in prayer; both had a profound impact on Katherine’s life.

On a trip into the West, Katherine witnessed the misery of the Native American tribes and resolved that this population and the African American population would be her own personal mission. She became a patroness of schools and missions to these marginalized groups. In an audience with Pope Leo XIII, she asked him to send more missionaries to minister to these people groups, Leo responded “Why not be a missionary yourself?” This question changed the trajectory of Katherine’s life.

Katherine decided to become a nun, even starting her own order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, to accomplish her goals. Her first school was built in Sante Fe and by 1942, she had built and staffed 50 missions to the Native Americans and established a system of schools for the African American populations, including a college. 

At 77, Mother Drexel suffered a heart attack, and though she lived, she was forced into retirement. At this point, she became like an anchorite, living in a small room where she could see the sanctuary at the mother house of her mission. Here she spent her time in prayer and mediation, leaving behind writings for the benefit of those she would leave behind. Katherine passed away at the age of 96 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000. 

Let us all consider, like Katherine Drexel, that WE may be the solution to a problem.


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