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Katharine Drexel and the Sisters Who Shared Her Vision

Although Katharine Drexel has been the subject of several biographies, they have tended to treat her as a perfect human being whom the Church later transformed into a saint. Katherine and the Sisters Who Shared Her Vision moves beyond the story of the heiress’s individual life devoted to God and shines a light on the work she did, assisted by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Drexel could have lived comfortably, wealthy and privileged, as a Philadelphia philanthropist but chose to found a religious congregation of women dedicated to working within Black and Indigenous communities—without receiving the bulk of the money left by Drexel's father.

Katharine Drexel and the Sisters Who Shared Her Vision is a critical biography of this American saint written within the context of the religious order she founded. It ties her sainthood to the Sisters’ ministries to Black and Indigenous communities, The author’s careful examination of the work Katharine Drexel and her Sisters accomplished brings a critical perspective to this important ministry in the Church. It deepens our understanding of these communities and renews our commitment to the difficult, ongoing conversation about race in America.

“Because the founding of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament meant that Drexel was able to ensure that she could fund and staff schools, it is important that the congregation be an integral part of the story of the woman who gave up her fortune to serve God and others. Although the money Drexel donated was obviously a tremendous help in serving Black and Indigenous People, the presence of a community of women religious prepared to spend their lives ministering to these populations provideda critical mass of people to ensure that the work was carried out.”
—from the introduction


Katharine Drexel and the Sisters Who Shared Her Vision is as engaging as it is informative; above all, it captures the life and legacy of Katharine Drexel in all its magnificent complexity.”
—Kathleen Sprows Cummings, PhD, director, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism

“This is a welcome biography of a remarkable woman whose impact on Americans—Black and white, Catholic and non-Catholic—endures.”
—James O’Toole, Clough Professor of History Emeritus, Boston College

“A balanced historical work that offers a fresh interpretation of Mother Katharine Drexel and her religious community. Highly readable and thoroughly engaging.”
—Peter J. Wosh, coauthor of Murder on the Mountain

Margaret McGuinness, PhD, is professor emerita of religion at La Salle University of Philadelphia, where she also served as vice president of mission.

Click here to visit the podcast at the
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An interview with Margaret M. McGuinness

ISBN: 978-08091-5658-0

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