Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Saint Katharine Drexel

     Just outside of the City of Philadelphia is the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, a Religious Community founded by Mother Katharine Drexel, whose purpose is to minister to and empower Native American and African American women and men.  I visited there once.  Katharine Drexel was a wealthy and worldly heiress from Philadelphia who in her travels saw the needs of this part of God's people.  She lived from 1858 to 1955.  As I remember the story, in a visit to Rome, she brought the needs of these peoples to the attention of the Holy Father and asked him to do something, wherein he responded that she should take up the task herself.  Inspired by the Spirit, she founded her Community and dedicated her fortune to establishing the first Catholic College for African Americans and starting 145 Catholic missions and twelve schools for Native Americans.

     I had the honor of being present in Rome at the ceremony where she was canonized by Saint Pope John Paul II.  It was my only canonization ceremony, and while long, was most joyous.  It is a memory that I treasure.

      Inspired by this woman of Faith, may we pray, as the Collect Prayer proper for her feast says:

" ...enable us to work for justice
among the poor and oppressed,
and keep us undivided in love
in the eucharistic community of your Church."

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