Bill Rose has long believed that Saint Katharine Drexel set a God-centered example that has served as “a blessing to many spiritual children.” This Sunday, Nov. 26 at 2:00 p.m., her figurative kin will have a free opportunity to thank the Philadelphia-born founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for that guidance when Rose presents “The Total Gift: A Katharine Drexel Story,” a documentary that explores its subject’s dedication to the marginalized.
“We wanted to do her spiritual justice,” Rose said of the 23-minute work by Joyful Films, his Emmy Award-winning video production company whose website proclaims that its output places “particular emphasis on the joyfulness that flows from God” and means to follow “Him in the Christian life.” “She is interceding in our world today, and we want to draw more people to appreciate her work.”
Given her background, Saint Katharine Drexel had zero need to exert herself at all. As an heiress to a banking fortune, she could have lived a life of lavish ease, but she chose differently. The Joyful Films’ product makes evident that Saint Katharine equated silence to compliance when it came to the plight of African Americans and indigenous people on the North American continent. The piece, whose screening will occur at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, home to the Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel, reiterates that all deserve dignity and that no one should ever feel excluded from God’s table.
“I think that call to inclusivity is what’s helping believers to appreciate her present-day relevance,” Rose stated, using the table imagery to reflect on Saint Katharine’s devotion to the Eucharist.
That unwavering bond with the Body and Blood of Christ provided inspiration for the film’s title, “Ours is the spirit of the Eucharist, the total gift of self.”
“She’s a powerful figure in the communion of saints,” Gina Ingiosi said. “She made clear that we have to discover a path to God and then follow it each day, regardless of barriers, as they’re a gift that shouldn’t take away from our gratitude.”
As the Associate Director of the Saint Katharine Drexel Shrine, Ingiosi appreciates that come Sunday, which marks the saint’s 165th birthday, everyone will be able to see how she never shied away from persevering in the name of God. In her eyes, no heart deserved to go untouched, as evidenced through many gestures, including the provision of an estimated $20 million to build churches, missions, and schools for the downtrodden.
“There is so much to admire about her,” Ingiosi said of Saint Katharine Drexel, noting how much she treasured connections with people over material things. Her simple lifestyle included using pencils until they had become nubs. “At the heart of everything was standing up and going on for your faith. What a great example that gives us during a time when so many people feel like outcasts.”
As for the content of the documentary, Rose, who co-produced the film with Gus DeSimone, aimed for as much authenticity as possible. Actress Sarah Carpenter was fortunate enough to don one of Saint Katharine’s black-and-white habits and use one of those aforementioned pencil nubs.
“In telling her story, we wanted to focus on the spiritual impact she had during her lifetime and continues to have today,” he said. “I think she reminds us that we can all be leaders in our communities. Nobody is above the task of helping someone.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103