March 3, 2021

Saint Katharine Drexel

The saint we honor today, Katharine Drexel, offers us a life rich in service, following after Jesus, who in today’s reading declares that the “Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Katherine Drexel was the younger of three daughters of an extremely wealthy Catholic Philadelphia family. Katharine and her sisters followed in the example of her father and step-mother, who each month opened their home to distribute charity to all who came.

In her early years, Katharine witnessed the terrible plight of the freed African-Americans who lived in abject poverty with little opportunity for their children to get an education. She also witnessed the horrible fate of the Native Americans who were forced to live miserable lives on reservations. Her experience of the very poor treatment of these two minorities led her to a life of service. She generously funded numerous Catholic projects that contributed to the education of these children.

At the time, the Catholic Church had a dismal record of outreach to these two minorities, and Katharine, in 1885, asked Pope Leo XIII to send priests and sisters to aid in this ministry. He told her to found and lead such an institute herself. Thus, was born the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. The community increased as many young women were attracted to Drexel’s call to service. They were missioned to work in founding schools and educating the children of these two minority communities. Mother Drexel was convinced that an excellent education was their only avenue out of poverty. She was truly poured out in their service.

Her legacy lives on in the many schools her community founded, including the only historically Black Catholic college, Xavier University in New Orleans.

To what service are we called to today?

Let Us Pray:

Lord, as we gather each day to celebrate the Eucharist, you command us to follow you in being broken and poured out in service of others. Give us the grace we need to follow Saint Katharine’s example to see you in our neighbor and reach out in loving kindness. Amen.


Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About Patrick Riley

Patrick is an Associate of the Blessed Sacrament at St Paschal Baylon Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the Book Review Editor for Emmanuel Magazine.