Katherine Drexel and the Gifts of God

March 27, 2021

“why don't you become a missionary?”


Katharine Drexel was an heiress. She grew up in magnificent mansions. She never lacked good food, her clothes were of the finest make, and when she traveled, which she did frequently, it was by a private, luxurious railway car.

But three days a week her mother opened their house to the poor. Every evening, her father spent half an hour in prayer.

When her mother fell ill, Katharine was her nurse for three years. The disease ended the life of her mother and Katharine saw that all the money and resources that were at the family's disposal could not buy freedom form pain or untimely death.

In 1881, Katharine read Helen Hunt Jackson's book “A Century of Dishonor” which recounted the injustices suffered by the Native American people. Katherine was appalled by what she read and while she was on a trip to Europe she met Pope Leo XIII and pleaded with the Holy Father to send missionaries to Wyoming to help the bishop there.

His reply was not what Katherine expected. The pope smiled kindly as a father would to his child and said, “why don't you become a missionary?”

When she returned home Katherine began her aid to the indian missions. This led to her entry into the consecrated life, becoming Mother Drexel of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored.

There are many saints who were raised in privilege only to renounce their family's wealth in order to serve God. But Katherine was not exactly one of them. She used her wealth and her society connections to open boarding schools for indians, foundations, black Catholic schools, and mission centers.

There is no telling how many millions of dollars St. Katharine Drexel spent in service to the poor.

The wealth and possession we have are not ours, they are given to us in stewardship until such time as the Lord calls us to use them in His service. But all too often we lose sight of that simple fact.

Does it surprise us when we read that the unnamed owners of the donkey willingly gave it up because the Lord was in need? What possessions do we value? Would we give them up when the Lord asks for them, out of need?

What gifts have we been given? What gifts might the Lord have need of? Do we cling to them out of uncertainty or fear, or selfishness? We must realize that, like the donkey, those gifts may make a difference. Those small gifts, given back to God may move someone closer to God. So today as we recall the passion, let us ask ourselves what is our part in our history of salvation? How can we move Jesus further down the road? What is our “donkey” and what will we do when the Lord asks for what is His?

Corrie Ten Boom, A Christian activist who survived the Nazi Holocaust once said, “I've learned that we must hold everything loosely, because when I grip it tightly, it hurts when the Father pries my fingers loose and takes it from me.”

Pax Vobiscum
Passion Sunday

Read more at www.DeaconLawrence.org

© Lawrence Klimecki


Purchase fine art prints by Deacon Lawrence here.

Deacon Lawrence draws on ancient Christian tradition to create new contemporary art that seeks to connect the physical and the spiritual.. For more information on original art, prints and commissions, Please visit www.DeaconLawrence.org 

Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith


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