“If we live the Gospel, we will be people of justice
and our lives will bring good news to the poor.”
Saint Katherine Drexel
Katherine Drexel came from money, but also from a house in Philadelphia where prayer and open doors for the poor were part of her growing up.
She saw a need for responding to blacks and Native Americans (who were called “Colored and Indians” in her day) and asked the pope to send priests for them. Pope Leo XIII told her to be a missionary. And she did.
She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to work with blacks and Native Americans, founding schools and even Xavier University in New Orleans.
Though she and her sisters inherited millions, she never used the money for her congregation but assisted others in responding to needs of the marginalized.
Though it might seem that her approach was mostly what some would term “charity,” it is important to realize that Mother Drexel also spoke out against segregation before the civil rights movement. Her sisters were threatened for their commitment to blacks.
She is one of those who live out today’s reading from Isaiah 58:
This, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.
May we too be people who respond to those in need as missionaries of the love, justice, and mercy of God.