Between 1885 and her retirement from ministry due to ill health in 1935, Mother Katharine Drexel had a significant impact on the effort to educate and evangelize Native Americans. While historians have acknowledged her monetary donations, the full scope of her partnership with the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions (BCIM) has remained unexplored, in part because Drexel preferred to keep much of her work secret. Drawing heavily from BCIM correspondence, this article chronicles Drexel’s financial contributions, highlighting her guidance of the bureau’s work. Drexel provided the BCIM with millions of dollars to finance construction projects, insure churches and schools, publish reports and fundraising magazines, spread Catholic material culture, pay missionaries’ salaries, and establish a Catholic presence at government Indian schools. Promotion of strict accounting practices and attentiveness to her investments enabled Drexel to closely monitor her vast benevolent empire. These policies created tensions in a church not accustomed to such behavior from a female religious. This work examines the intersection of money and mission in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Church in the United States.


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pp. 1-24
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