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Katherine Drexel: Mystery, mission, spirituality and sainthood

Hughes, Cheryl Christine Dempsey (2007) Katherine Drexel: Mystery, mission, spirituality and sainthood. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Katherine Drexel (1858-1955), the founder of the sisters of the blessed. Sacrament, was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000. This thesis analyzes Drexel’s life and virtues to establish why she became a saint. The examination of Drexel’s life begins in Chapter 2, which discloses the family life of a wealthy Philadelphia debutante, who, nonetheless, learned charity and philanthropy from her banker father and her religious mother. Following the deaths of her parents, Drexel wanted to enter a Catholic convent to spend her life in prayer and contemplation. Chapter 3 details the process of her vocational discernment that was carried out over several years in an epistolary argument with her spiritual director, Bishop O'Connor of Omaha. While he first believed that her vocation was to remain a single woman dedicated to serving the poor through judicial disbursement of her large inheritance, he later decided that she should found a new order of missionary nuns dedicated to the needs of the Native- Americans and African-Americans. Chapter 3 details the difficulties she encountered in the establishing of her new order at a time when the United States was racially divided by both law and custom. Drexel's order grew slowly in the face of open hostility towards her mission, including that of the Ku Klux Klan, and it then declined following the upheavals that came in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Chapter 4 addresses the spirituality that sustained Drexel throughout her long life. Her deep spirituality was both kenotic and Eucharistie, and it allowed her to face daunting challenges in the mission field. Chapter 5 analyzes why the pope chose to canonize Drexel and entails a study of the process of saint-making as it evolved over the centuries.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2007
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:32

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