Saint Katharine Drexel gave up a vast fortune and founded the sisters of the Blessed Sacrament dedicated to the education of Native and African American children.
Her feast day is March 3.
Saint Katharine Drexel was born in 1858 into a prominent Philadelphia family and became imbued with love for God and neighbor. She took an avid interest in the material and spiritual well-being of black and Native Americans. She began by donating money but soon concluded that more was needed - the lacking ingredient was people. Katharine 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. From the age of 33 until her death in 1955, she dedicated her life and a fortune of 20 million dollars to this work. In 1894, Mother Drexel took part in opening the first mission school for Indians, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Other schools quickly followed - for Native Americans west of the Mississippi River, and for the blacks in the southern part of the United States. In 1915 she also founded Xavier University in New Orleans. At her death there were more than 500 Sisters teaching in 63 schools throughout the country. Katharine was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 20, 1988.
Because of her lifelong dedication to her faith and her selfless service to the oppressed, Pope John Paul II canonized her on October 1, 2000 to become only the second recognized American-born saint.
Born: November 26, 1858 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: March 3, 1955 of natural causes at the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, Bristol Pike, Bensalem, Pennsylvania
Beatified: November 20, 1988 by Saint John Paul II
Canonized: October 1, 2000 at Rome by Saint John Paul II
Also known as: Catherine Marie Drexel