“The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament have once again given the faithful of the Archdiocese a tremendous gift,” said Reverend Dennis Gill, Rector and Pastor of the Cathedral Basilica. “With the new opportunity to honor Saint Katharine at the Cathedral, even more people will be exposed to her extraordinary life and example. It is our fervent hope that others will be inspired and continue her important work among Native Americans and African Americans.”
“Saint Katharine’s message is as relevant today as it was 125 years ago,” said Sister Donna Breslin, President of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. “She is a contemporary saint and we continue to pray to her for an end to racism and other deeply rooted injustices.”
“The Connelly Foundation’s support for this project comes from reverence and respect for a truly outstanding Philadelphian, who gave totally of herself to help others,” said Josephine C. Mandeville, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Connelly Foundation. “Her life and her mission are inspiring. The Connelly Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to assist in creating a permanent resting place for this very special Philadelphia saint.”
Saint Katharine Drexel was canonized on October 1, 2000. She is the second American-born person ever to be canonized. Born into tremendous wealth as part of the Drexel family, she gave up her life of privilege to found the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891. She dedicated her life to serve the needs of African Americans and Native Americans, and inspired so many women, who joined the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, to follow her example. Today, the Sisters continue to serve in elementary and secondary schools, as well as at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, the first Black Catholic university in the U.S. They are also involved in a variety of other services including pastoral and spiritual ministries, social services, counseling, religious education, and health care, primarily but not exclusively among Black and Native American peoples.
In May 2016 the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament announced their decision to sell the Motherhouse property where the current shrine is housed, along with other property in Virginia. At that time the Sisters asked the Archdiocese to consider creating a sacred space for Saint Katharine’s remains. Earlier this year, the Archdiocese agreed to create a new space for her tomb at the Cathedral Basilica.
This new tomb will be immediately adjacent to the Drexel altar donated by the Drexel family decades ago.
They are also involved in a variety of other services including pastoral and spiritual ministries, social services, counseling, religious education, and health care, primarily but not exclusively among Black and Native American peoples. The Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament is in Bensalem, Pa.