Litany of St. Katharine Drexel

Honoring the 50th anniversary of her death - March 3, 2005

Biography as the Call to Holiness - (Lumen Gentium par. 39)

Katharine Drexel was born on Nov. 26, 1858. She was baptized on Dec. 29, 1858. She was confirmed and made her First Communion on June 3, 1870. She was born into a Philadelphia high society family but, along with her sisters, was kept humble and given a caring heart for the poor by devout Catholic parents. Not unlike teens of her day she had her ears pierced, but unlike them she composed a spiritual diary from 1873-1883. During an audience with Pope Leo XIII on Jan. 27, 1887, she asked about missionaries to care for Native American Indians and Black Catholics. The Pope responded with a challenge: "why don't you be that missionary?" After some intense prayer she accepted the challenge and began her Novitiate with the Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburg, PA on May 6, 1889. She professed her vows on Feb. 12, 1891 to be "the Mother and Servant of the Indians and Colored Races...." then gave her share of the family fortune in founding the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and promoting apostolic works among blacks and Native Americans. After a meeting with her two sisters and the great Sioux Chief Red Cloud she planned Indian missions. Another saint, Mother Frances X. Cabrini helped her maneuver the "politics" of getting her congregational rule approved on May 25, 1913. In June 1918 she founded Xavier University for Black Americans in New Orleans, LA. Following a series of heart attacks at age 77 she relinquished the office of Superior General in 1935. She died in the 96th year of her life and the 65th year of religious life on March 3, 1955.

The cause for her canonization was introduced in Rome by Cardinal John Krol on February 27, 1964. She was declared Venerable on Jan. 26, 1987. The healing of Robert Gutherman's ear was accepted as a miracle on Dec. 9, 1987 and she was declared Blessed on Nov. 20, 1988. The healing of 17-month-old Amy Wall's deafness was accepted as a second miracle on Jan. 27, 2000. She was declared a Saint by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 1, 2000. She is a reminder that the call to holiness can be lived in today's culture.

St. Katharine Drexel, an heiress who became a missionary......Pray for us.
St. Katharine Drexel, established schools for blacks in 13 states
St. Katharine Drexel, established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states
St. Katharine Drexel, endured harassment from non-believers
St. Katharine Drexel, friend of St. Frances Cabrini
St. Katharine Drexel, devoted prayer friend of St. Joseph
St. Katharine Drexel, guided by the Holy Spirit in her ministry
St. Katharine Drexel, glorified God in her care of the poor
St. Katharine Drexel, model of holiness for living the gospel of life
St. Katharine Drexel, prayed that all would be united with the Eucharistic Lord
St. Katharine Drexel, miracle worker for the new millennium

Let us pray,
O God of the humble, your Saint Katharine Drexel was born into wealth, but devoted her life to the cause of giving dignity and civil rights to native Indians and Black People. Her life, from rich girl to woman missionary, spanned nearly a century. Her legacy as foundress, advocate and woman of prayer are reminders that holiness can be lived in today's culture. Inspire other woman to follow her example through religious life with the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament so they can be all for Jesus and to live in his company. He lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Composed by: Rev. Paul G. Mast
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