He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement, his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
St. Katharine Drexel
Katharine Drexel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 26, 1858. Her mother died when she was just a baby. Not long after, her father, a very successful banker, got married again to a kind woman named Emma. Emma was very loving to Katharine and her older sister Elizabeth. In a few years another baby girl was born into the family. Mr. and Mrs. Drexel named her Louise. The three Drexel sisters had a great time growing up together.
Katharine’s parents were very religious. The family prayed together every day before an altar they had set up in their home. Mrs. Drexel devoted much of her time to helping the poor, and Katharine and her sisters learned from her the joy of sharing their wealth with those who were in need. This was how they could show their love for God.
When Katharine grew up, she was a very active Catholic. She was generous with her time and her money. She realized that the Church had many needs. She directed her energies and her fortune to helping the poor and forgotten. Her work for Jesus would be among the African American and Native American people.
In 1891, Katharine began a new religious community of missionaries. They were called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Katharine became known as Mother Katharine.
Mother Katharine inherited her family’s great fortune. She used the money for wonderful works of charity. She and her sisters built schools, convents and churches. In 1915, they established Xavier University in New Orleans. During her long, fruitful lifetime, Mother Katharine spent millions of dollars of her inheritance to provide education and assistance to African Americans and Native Americans who were in need. She found Jesus truly present in the Eucharist and in all the people whom she so lovingly served.
Mother Katharine died on March 3,1955, at the age of ninety-seven. She was declared “blessed” by Pope John Paul II on November 20, 1988, and canonized on October 1, 2000. She is the second native-born United States citizen to be declared a saint.
St. Katharine teaches us a special lesson. We could spend our lives being concerned only about ourselves and our own needs. But how much better it is to imitate Mother Katharine and do as much as we can to help others. This will make us more like Jesus!
-Daughters of St. Paul