“Kindness is the natural fruit of goodness of the heart”
St. Katharine Drexel dedicated her life and a fortune of 20 million dollars to numerous missions and missionaries in the United States. Born in 1858 into a wealthy Philadelphia family, St. Katharine took an avid interest in the material and spiritual well-being of black and native Americans. In 1889, Katharine entered the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Pittsburgh. Initially, she wanted to withdraw to a cloister, but her gifts pulled her to Christian service.
Following her desire to live a life of mercy, she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Black and Native American peoples, whose members would work for the betterment of those they were called to serve. Combining prayer and social action, this religious community demonstrated many acts of corporal and spiritual mercy. Growing up, Katharine was taught God gave wealth to their family so they could aid others. Katharine and her family regularly distributed food, medicine, clothing and rent money to the poor. These experiences shaped Katharine’s future, encouraging her to continue acts of mercy throughout her life.
In addition to many corporal works of mercy, St. Katharine contributed many spiritual works of mercy through education. In 1894, she opened the first mission school for Native Americans. Others soon followed for both native and black Americans. In 1915, St. Katharine founded Xavier University in New Orleans. At her death in 1955, there were more than 500 Sisters teaching in 63 schools throughout the country. On October 1, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized her.
- Feast Day: March 3rd
- One of two recognized American-born saints
- Patron Saint of racial justice