Today the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel. The Franciscan Media reflection on this second saint to be born in the United States (Philadelphia) is rather fanciful and very engaging. She was born in 1858 and lived for 97 years, in spite of suffering a heart attack at age 77, so one could consider her “a modern saint,” the second American to be canonized by the Church. Here is what the reflection on her life tells us:
Saints have always said the same thing. Pray, be humble, accept the cross, love and forgive. But it is good to hear these things in the American idiom from one who, for instance, had her ears pierced as teenager, who resolved to have “no cake, no preserves,” who wore a watch, was interviewed by the press, traveled by train and could concern herself with the proper size of pipe for a new mission. There are obvious reminders that happiness can be lived in today’s culture as well as that of Jerusalem or Rome.
This modern girl with money had a heart on fire “with the plight of people of color and Native Americans (Indians) after reading the book entitled A Century of Dishonor by Helen Hunt Jackson.” She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored and “by 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states for black students, 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools, although segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania.” (franciscanmedia.org) At present, Mother Drexel is credited with establishing 145 missions, 50 schools for African Americans and 12 schools for Native Americans and Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically black Catholic college in the United States. (Wikipedia)
Let us be thankful today for Mother Katharine Drexel and those who have followed her example of care for native peoples and people of color in the United States and elsewhere. “That all may be one!”