Our parish theme this year, Grow 2 Go, focuses our attention on spiritual growth. The lives of real people, both saints and lay persons, give us valuable examples of how we can grow spiritually as stewards. One such example is Saint Katharine Drexel (1858-1955), an heiress, philanthropist, founder, and educator.
Katharine’s family was devout, praying and practicing spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Her father prayed each evening, and every week her stepmother opened their doors to house and care for the poor. The couple distributed food, clothing, and provided rent assistance to those in need. However, her stepmother’s terminal cancer taught Katharine that no amount of money could shelter them from pain or suffering.
While visiting the western states, Katharine saw how poor and troubled the Native Americans were, and desperately wanted to help them. Inspired with a passionate love for God and neighbor, she became avidly interested in the material and spiritual well-being of African and Native Americans.
Financially secure because of their father’s planning, Katharine and her sisters donated to the Saint Francis Mission of South Dakota. Katharine and her family also met with Pope Leo XIII, who suggested she become a missionary. She decided to give herself and her inheritance to God through service to both Native and African Americans. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, financed the printing of a Navajo-English Catechism, and established Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic college for African Americans.
We may not be as fortunate as Saint Katharine, or have her resources at our disposal. However, we do share the faith that she had. Whether we were raised in our faith as she was, or came to it at different times and in unexpected ways, we still can learn from her example. Our willingness and efforts to pray, serve, help, and give our best to our brothers and sisters can help us grow spiritually in our faith and stewardship, as Saint Katharine’s lifetime of service shows us.
--Jim Wollak, Parishioner
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