Katie: The Young Life of Mother Katherine Drexel

Book cover: 'Katie: The Young Life of Mother Katherine Drexel'
Claire Jordan Mohan
Young Sparrow Press
Number of pages: 
71 pages
Grade / Age level: 

In this, her latest book in the "Young Life" series, Mrs. Mohan introduces young readers to Mother Katherine Drexel (canonized in October 2000), the first American born, Catholic born saint.

Katherine Mary Drexel (Katie) was born to a wealthy Catholic family of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1858. As a child she had everything she could wish for - a beautiful playhouse with "carpets, child-size furniture and even a full kitchen." Her parents and her teachers (the sisters from the convent nearby) instilled in her a love for Jesus, and especially the Blessed Sacrament. She struggled with many things familiar to families today - such as trying to understand why she had three sets of grandparents (her own mother died just after Katie was born and her father remarried). The story (which is the style of a first-person narrative - i.e. from the viewpoint of Katie herself) provides warm and personal details about the developing spiritual life of a child which provide an excellent example for young readers in counting their blessings and using their talents for good.

Katie and her two sisters lost their parents when they were still young ladies. Left with a vast fortune, they had to make decisions about suporting charitable organizations. Katie became interested in Missions on American Indian Reservations. Eventually she founded an order of nuns - the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. During her lifetime she "opened, staffed, and directly supported nearly sixty schools and missions" and dedicated her life to helping Native and African Americans throughout the United States.

This book includes the story (along with a picture) of two children who prayed to Mother Katherine Drexel for a cure for their little sister. Her miraculous cure was accepted by the Vatican as a true miracle in the investigation process for her canonization. The book also includes many charming black and white photos of Katie and her family, a chronology of her life, and a glossary.

Besides the worthwhile story of a great American saint, the book gives us a glimpse of life in 19th century America. Although many particulars of a Catholic family life are familiar to us today, evidence of the Victorian era are present in instances such as how the nurse explains to the children that their new little sister was brought by angels who visited their mama and papa during the night. The story is charming and gives the reader the feeling that they are really getting to know Mother Drexel very personally. Although I was disappointed with previous writings of Mrs. Mohan (I believe it was because I found the stories too terse, too brief) I thought this story was quite nice and I also appreciate the numerous black and white photos which make for an attractive and appealing book.

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