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152 • Part I. The Creed: The Faith Professed

income from her father’s trust—$350,000 a year in the 1900s—to build over

sixty schools in the rural U.S. West and South. She also established Xavier

University in New Orleans, the only Catholic African American college in

the United States. She struggled for civil rights, taking on the Ku Klux Klan

and financing some of the National Association for the Advancement

of Colored People’s investigations into exploitation of African American

workers. Throughout her lifetime, Mother Katharine Drexel gave more than

$21 million to help found churches, schools, and hospitals across the

United States.

In 1935, Mother Katharine suffered a severe heart attack, and for the

next twenty years, she lived in prayerful retirement. Her interest and love

for the missions deepened until her death on March 3, 1955.

Pope John Paul II canonized Mother Katharine Drexel on October 1,

2000. She had lived the true meaning and virtue of the Gospel, with heart-

felt generosity. She put her money and her life where her heart was—with

her beloved African and Native Americans.

St. Katharine drew immense spiritual strength from her devotion to the

Eucharist. In her adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, she discovered how

to surrender herself totally to God. She wrote, “The Eucharist is a never-ending sacrifice. It is the Sacrament of love, the act of love.” She often

prayed to Christ in the Eucharist: “Help me each moment today and

always to communicate myself to you by doing your will. Let the doing

of your will each moment be a spiritual communion. In it you will give me

yourself. I will give you myself.”


In her work for Native and African Americans, St. Katharine Drexel fol-

lowed Christ’s words describing his care as the Good Shepherd for the

sheep: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn

10:10). She wanted those whom she served to have a greater fullness of

life now and to achieve the ultimate fullness of life in eternity.

As God’s holy people,we,too,share in holy mysteries such as the Eucharist,

but we are also related to all other members of the Church—those still living

and those who have preceded us into the Kingdom of Heaven. We are, thus,

part of the Communion of Saints. In this chapter, we consider our journey

from life through death to the perfection of the Communion of Saints

in eternity.

11 Quoted in Ellen Tarry,

Saint Katharine Drexel

(Boston: Pauline Books and Media,

2000), 149.