Saint Katharine Drexel
St. Katharine Drexel (1858-1955) was a wealthy heiress from a prominent family in Philadelphia. From a young age, she felt called to serve the spiritual and temporal needs of the underprivileged, particularly the African American and Native American communities. She learned the virtue of charity from her parents, who often opened their home to the poor. She began by donating money, but quickly realized this would not bring the lasting change these communities desperately needed. During an audience with Pope Leo XIII she requested that a religious order be sent to manage the insitutions she was funding. In response, the Pope suggested that she herself enter the religious life for this purpose. St. Katharine then founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. From the age of 33 until her death in 1955, Katharine invested her personal fortune of 20 million dollars in this cause. She helped build the first missions school for Native Americans in Santa Fe, and founded Xavier University in New Orleans. At the time of her death, more than 500 sisters of her order taught in over 60 schools which had been founded throughout the country. Katharine Drexel was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II in the year 2000, making her the second American-born saint. Her feast day is March 3rd.
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