|Saint Katharine Drexel, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, created a system for all Americans to connect spiritually, educationally, and equally for the first time.
Until now, her life has been relatively unknown and her extraordinary achievements are all but forgotten.
Some of Katharine Drexel's most notable accomplishments are:
- Establishing 55 schools for African-Americans
- Establishing 10 schools for Native Americans
- Paying for the student's education, room and board (regardless of religious affiliation) when the families could not afford it
- Encouraging the profession of teaching as a career, so students could go on to educate others in need
- Impacting and improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of African-Americans and Native Americans
- Creating Xavier University in New Orleans, LA. Xavier currently places more African Americans into medical schools than any other college in the nation
- In 1988 she was beatified. In 2000, she was declared Saint Katharine Drexel by Pope John Paul II.
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The following is a brief summary of the life of Katharine Drexel.
The links that follow are helpful to gain an even greater understanding
St. Katharine Drexel learned a responsibility to others
from a young age.
Born in 1858, she was raised in a wealthy Philadelphia family by her father, banker Francis Martin Drexel, and step-mother Emma Bouvier (an ancestor to Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis). The Drexel and the Bouvier families had well known charitable reputations, but it was Emma Bouvier who had a profound influence on Katharine. Emma’s generosity was endless. Countless days, Katharine, with sister, Elizabeth and half sister, Louise Bouvier worked alongside as Emma handed out money, food, clothing and medicine to those who lined up outside the house. With each hand out, Emma made a record to ensure her kindness was bestowed only on those committed to improving their own situation.
After losing both parents by 1885 the three still relatively young sisters, were consoled by a determination to hang on tightly and fulfill the lessons Emma had taught them.
Katharine Drexel came to Virginia in 1894 as Mother Katharine Drexel, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. In Powhatan Co., Louise Bouvier Drexel, and her husband Edward Morrell were planning a school for young African American men. Katharine, who had plans for a school for African-American girls, found the adjacent land for sale. She bought the land and began planning St. Francis de Sales, her first school for African-Americans.
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