St. Katharine Drexel, An American Saint
St. Katharine Drexel is the namesake Saint for the Drexel School System in honor of her commitment to ensuring that a Catholic education was accessible to all communities in the United States. Founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Katharine established schools across rural reservations and in the inner cities, funded by her personal fortune and built by her tireless labors and the ongoing efforts of the Sisters.
Born into great privilege, St. Katharine was known to wear the same, single pair of shoes for a period of ten years during her service to the poor, mending her broken shoes with care, sharing prayers of gratitude for shoes to wear on her feet. This demonstration of St. Katharine's commitment to poverty was especially powerful given that her denial of spending allowed her to funnel even more investment into schools for the Native and African American populations. A woman who's inheritance allocated her a daily allowance of $1,000, Katharine lived on 84 cents daily, fueled by the difference she could make in the world by unlocking the future with education for underserved communities.
St. Katharine was brave in the face of adversity and was an advocate for equality in the eyes of the church. in the early 1900s, refusing to rope of segregated sections in her missions and churches, St. Katharine designed two long pews, running front to back, to allow for the races to sit side by side. This clever design circumvented the south's segregation laws and pleased Katharine, who was far ahead of her peers in her thinking about race and gender equality in America.
St. Katharine Drexel
Holy Spirit Catholic School