3 March 2021


       The Katharine Konnection

Today we celebrate our patroness, Saint Katharine Drexel, on her feast day. She was born in November 26, 1858 and died on March 3, 1955.  In her 96 years of life, she improved the lives of so many poor and marginalized children and families. Her legacy continues to touch and improve the lives of those it was her passion to help, especially African Americans and Native Americans, through the work of the order of nuns that she founded.


Katharine grew up in a wealthy family from Philadelphia.  After watching her stepmother suffer with terminal cancer, Katharine learned that no amount of money could shelter the family from pain or suffering. From this moment, Katharine’s life took a turn. She became imbued with a passionate love for God and neighbor, and she took an avid interest in the economic and spiritual well-being of black and native Americans.

While visiting the western United States in as a young woman, she witnessed the poverty and destitution of Native Americans on reservation lands. In 1887, while touring Europe, Katharine and her sisters received a private audience with Pope Leo XIII. They were seeking missionaries to help with the Indian missions they were financing. The Pope looked to Katharine and suggested that she become a missionary.  It was then that Katharine decided she would give herself and her inheritance to God by serving Native Americans and African Americans.


On February 12, 1891, Katharine made her first vows as a religious and dedicated herself to minister to the Native American and African Americans in the United States.

Taking the name Mother Katharine, she established a religious congregation originally called the “Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored”, whose members would work for the betterment of those they were called to serve.  Led by Mother Katharine, the Sisters opened more than 60 schools throughout the United States dedicated to the education of Native American and African American children.  Her order grew to 500 members in over 50 convents.

Mother Katharine was canonized by Pope John Paul II in October 2000. She is the second American-born saint to be canonized, following St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

On her feast day, we thank God for the gift of Saint Katharine Drexel.  For our parish, she continues to be a model of Christian stewardship as we strive to reach out to those who live on the margins of our society today.

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