St. Katharine Drexel.

The Catholic Church has a long history of opposing racism. But that opposition is not just institutional – it’s found in the courageous lives of men and women who have risked everything to serve the oppressed and alienated.

One such person was St. Katharine Drexel, one of the first U.S.-born saints.

Born in Philadelphia in 1858, St. Katharine gave up a life of wealth to serve God as a religious sister. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, dedicated specifically to serving and teaching Native American and African American communities.

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The sisters would go on to found nearly 100 schools serving Native American reservations and Southern African American communities, both rural and inner city.

This work led to opposition and even threats of violence from racist groups.

According to one account, in the 1920s, the KKK “threatened to tar and feather the white past(or) at one of Drexel’s schools and bomb his church” in Beaumont, Texas.

“The nuns prayed and days later, a tornado came and destroyed the headquarters of the KKK killing two of their members. The Sisters were never threatened again.”

St. Katharine Drexel is the patron saint against racism.