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Saint of the Day: St. Katharine Drexel

Dedicated her life to serving Native and African-American communities

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Foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (1858-1955)

Her life

+ Katharine was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, into one of the wealthiest families in America. While visiting Europe as a young woman, she worked to recruit priests and religious to serve the needs of Native Americans.

+ During this same trip, during a papal audience, Pope Leo XIII suggested that Katharine herself become a missionary. The following year, she established schools in the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, California, Oregon, and New Mexico.

+ In 1889, Katharine entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy, and, in 1891, she professed religious vows as the first member of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indian and Colored People.

+ Opening a novitiate in Philadelphia, she received 21 new sisters in the first year. The community established its first mission in New Mexico.

+ In the years that followed, Katharine opened other missions and schools, including Xavier University in New Orleans.

+ Following a heart attack in 1935, Mother Drexel was forced to return to the motherhouse. There, she dedicated the remainder of her life to prayer and contemplation. She died on March 3, 1955, and was canonized in 2000.

For prayer and reflection

The Eucharist is a never-ending sacrifice. It is the Sacrament of love, the supreme love, the act of love.”—Saint Katharine Drexel

Spiritual bonus

On March 3, the church also honors the memory of 3 Franciscan priests who were martyred in Gondar, Ethiopia, in 1716. Blesseds Liberat Weiss, Michele Pio Fasoli, and Samuele Marzorati were missionaries who were martyred during a persecution of Ethiopian Christians. The “Martyrs of Gondar” were beatified in 1988.

Vocations

To learn more about the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, visit: http://www.katharinedrexel.org/sisters-of-the-blessed-sacrament/

Prayer

God of love,
you called Saint Katharine Drexel
to teach the message of the Gospel
and to bring the life of the Eucharist
to the Native American and African American peoples;
by her prayers and example,
enable us to work for justice
among the poor and the oppressed,
and keep us undivided in love
in the eucharistic community of your Church.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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