March is Women’s History Month. Established in the United States in 1987, it honors the accomplishments women have made in our society. Throughout the Bible, women have had a key role in fulfilling God’s plan. There have been many patronesses of charity and stewardship. The following saints have the distinction of being American saints doing God’s work in our country by establishing religious orders, schools and hospitals.
Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first U.S. citizen to be canonized as a saint on September 7, 1946. She was a missionary from Italy and although her frailness held her back from joining the order that taught her and mentored her, she founded her own order, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In her time, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini founded 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. Seeing a great need among Italian immigrants who were losing their faith, she organized schools and adult formation education classes.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first female American saint canonized on September 14, 1975. Happily married to a well-to-do husband and a mother of five children, she was left poor after her husband’s death. Her love of God and thirst for the Eucharist led her convert to Catholicism. She founded the first order of religious women in America, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, a religious community based on the Rule of St. Vincent De Paul. She was able to still raise her children, as well as live the life of a sister and founded several schools. She became the co-founder of the first free Catholic School in America. Her good works have been an inspiration for one of our diocesan schools, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Regional School. https://steas.com/
St. Katharine Drexel was the second female American saint canonized on October 1, 2000. She too was born into a wealthy and devout family that showed compassion to the less fortunate by opening up their home to the poor. She was a school builder and founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for minorities. Guided by St. Joseph, she decided to become a nun and went on to a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942, she had a system of African American Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Another significant achievement of St. Katharine Drexel was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans.
Today, women of faith are showing their love of God and performing works of charity similar to the saints mentioned by nurturing others, being the first catechists in their families, serving in parish ministries, and leading or participating in a religious organization. May we be guided by Christ, and inspired by these saints to strengthen our devotion to faith, family, education and charity as we strengthen evangelization and the mission of our Church.