Born in 1858 in Philadelphia, St. Katharine Drexel is known to be one of the bravest woman saints who fought for their beliefs and stood up against racial injustices in her society.
While she had a rich family, excellent education, traveled widely, and even had a grand debut into society, Katharine had her heart at helping the oppressed. As a young girl, she spent most of her time following the plight of the Indians, reading about their tragic stories in Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor.
Her deep interest in native Americans made young Katharine want to take charge and do something to help in the missions. When she went on a European tour and met Pope Leo XIII, she urged him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. To this, the pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” and Katharine was left in awe. (Read: Prayer to St. Martin de Porres, Patron of Racial Harmony)
Back home, Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored, where she was called “Mother Drexel” by her fellow nuns. By the year 1942, they had had established a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools.
At 77, Mother Drexel suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. From then, she spent the remaining 20 years of her life in quiet, intense prayer. She died in a small room overlooking the sanctuary at 96, and was canonized in 2000. Her feast day is celebrated today, March 3.
St. Katharine Drexel Prayer
Everloving God, You called Saint Katharine Drexel to teach the message of the Gospel and to bring the life of the Eucharist to the Black and Native American peoples.
By her prayers and example, enable us to work for justice among the poor and oppressed. Draw us all into the Eucharistic community of your Church, that we may be one in you.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer from usccb.org.