Saint Katharine Drexel, S.B.S., was an American heiress, philanthropist, religious sister, educator, and foundress. She was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 2000; her feast day is observed on March 3.
Born: November 26, 1858 (Philadelphia, PA)
Died: March 3, 1955 (near Philadelphia, PA)
Beatified: November 20, 1988 (by Pope John Paul II)
Canonized: October 1, 2000 (by JP II); only the second recognized American-born saint.
Born in 1858, into a prominent Philadelphia family, Katharine 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.