Denver, Colo., Feb 27, 2011 / 05:32 am
On March 3, the universal Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress who abandoned her family’s fortune to found an order of sisters dedicated to serving the impoverished African-American and American Indian populations of the United States.
Katharine was born November 26, 1858, into a wealthy and well-connected banking family. The family's wealth, however, did not prevent them from living out a serious commitment to their faith.
Her mother opened up the family house three times a week to feed and care for the poor, and her father had a deep personal prayer life. Both parents encouraged their daughters to think of the family's wealth not as their own, but as a gift from God which was to be used to help others.
During the summer months, Katharine and her sisters would teach catechism classes to the children of the workers on her family’s summer estate. The practice would prepare her for a life of service, with a strong focus on education and attention to the poor and vulnerable.