Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saint Katharine Drexel

She was an assertive Philadelphia debutante who dreamed of changing the world and had the family fortune to make it happen.

In a time before women could vote, she built more than 60 schools and founded Xavier University for blacks in the segregated South.

Katharine Drexel became a nun only after founding her own religious order to control how the money was spent. And 11 years after being named a Catholic saint, she is to take her place among the most famous women in American history.

Drexel will be inducted this weekend into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y.

Members of her order, based in Bensalem and founded in 1891, were overjoyed this week at the news, hoping it will allow Drexel’s life mission to inspire a new audience. The sisters will travel this weekend to Seneca Falls for ceremonies in the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement.

“I think she would accept this award only if it gave her an opportunity to draw more attention to her mission for justice and the cries of the poor in our society today, especially among people of color and among the Native American communities,” said Sister Suchalski, president of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

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