Saturday, March 3, 2012

St. Katherine Drexel and the Future of Catholic Philanthopy in America

Today we celebrate an extraordinary American Saint of the Catholic Church, Katherine Drexel of Pennsylvania. Her story raises some interesting questions about America's new pattern of imposing on the religious freedoms of its most philanthropic allies.
Mother Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. The American government had turned their back on these people in the late 19th century so a private rich person, a true 1% er, worth over $200,000,000 by today's standards, spent her own money to come to their aid. The title of the community she founded summed up the two great driving forces in her life—devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and love for the most deprived people in her country.
She didn't stop there. She went on to found approximately 60 schools, Sixty!!!!  The most famous foundation was made in 1915; Xavier University, New Orleans, the first such institution for Black people in the United States. The First!
Today, during his homily, Father Larry asked us to pray for the next generation of millionaires and billionaires to be so generous with the world's forgotten. Then he bravely posed this question:  "With the anti-Catholic policies of the current administration, imposing more and more limits on religious freedom and individual liberties, would God allow the next Katherine Drexel to use her fortune to create institutions that would be forced to participate in procedures that violate the conscience of the Church? Probably not. Probably not.

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