Sister Katherine Drexel Opening of the Sister of the Blessed Sacrament in Bensalem, PA
After Katherine Drexel took her vows and dedicated her life to working for Native Americans and African Americans, she moved into St. Elizabeth Convent in Bensalem, Pennsylvania with 13 other sisters in 1892. On the property, they built the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament boarding school for African American children in the area. This boarding school was connected to the chapel.
By 1894, other Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament were now on a mission in St. Catherine Indian School in Santa Fe. Since then, the SBS have continued to work to serve the poor Native American and African American children in the United States. While the mission has grown and evolved overtime, the heart of St. Katherine Drexel is prominent in all they do. Today, the SBS have missions across the United States (in both cities and rural areas), as well as missions in Haiti and Jamaica.
Using St. Katherine Drexel as a guide, their purpose is to proclaim the Good News to Native American and black peoples by living amongst them, working alongside them, serving them, and praying for them. They support empowerment by providing educational opportunities. They oppose racism in all forms. They work to promote justice. Today, promoting justice also includes environmental justice.
The SBS have chosen a simple lifestyle, and for this reason, they are able to connect with those around them. They become invested in the communities where they live and serve. They strive to encourage unity and community through Christ. For this reason, the SBS are opposed to all forms of prejudice, racism, and oppression.
According to Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and National Shrine or Saint Katherine Drexel, their mission statement is as follows:
“Guided by the spirit of Katherine Drexel, we are called to share the Gospel message with the poor, especially among the Black and Native American peoples, and to challenge all forms of racism as well as the other deeply rooted injustices in the world today.”
They embrace social justice by opposing oppression involving racism, immigration, human trafficking, ecology, and more. Additionally, the SBS serve in elementary, secondary schools, and in Xavier University.
The SBS are involved in multiple ministries, social services, religious education and healthcare among Black and Native American peoples; however, they no longer exclusively serve this demographic. It has also evolved from classroom education to empowerment education as well. They also offer empowerment programs or classes such as Cooking Matters aimed at nutrition education.
While the SBS mission began in the United States, it has spread to Haiti and Jamaica. St. Katherine Drexel’s mission is alive and continuing to foster spiritual growth and fight injustice across US and beyond.