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Poor Handmaid Foundress Declared a Saint

October 30, 2018

St Katharina pict on VaticanOver 100 Sisters, Associates, co-workers and friends of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ travelled to Rome from Donaldson, Indiana for the canonization of Blessed Catherine Kasper, now known as Saint Katharina Kasper. Katharina was the foundress’ given name at birth in Dernbach, Germany in 1820. Here in the US, she has been known as Catherine Kasper, as in the Catherine Kasper Home in Donaldson.

In a ceremony on October 14, with an estimated crowd of 70,000 people, Pope Francis canonized Katharina Kasper along with Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Francesco Spinelli, Vincenzo Romano,  Nazaria Ignazia of Saint Teresa of Jesus, and Nunzio Sulprizio.

Pope Francis declared, “All these saints in different contexts, put today’s word into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind. May the Lord help us to imitate their example.”

Canonization is the act by which the Catholic Church declares a person who has died a saint. By canonization, Pope Francis declared that Katharina Kasper and the other six newly named saints are with God and are examples of following Christ and worthy of imitation by the faithful.

Srs Deanne and Marlene Ann in St. Peter's SquareKatharina Kasper was born into a poor peasant family in 1820 in Dernbach, Germany.  Her father died when she was 21 years old. Because of the law at that time, all the property went to the four children of her father’s first wife, to the exclusion of the second Mrs. Kasper and her children. To survive, Katharina worked as a farm hand for about 10 cents a day.
Because she helped the people of her village in ordinary ways, other young women were attracted by Katharina’s example of service.  On August 15, 1848, Katharina moved into her first “little house” with four companions from the little German village. The house became a center from which the sick of Dernbach were nursed and it also served as a home for a widow and eight orphans. On August 15, 1851, Katharina and her four companions professed their vows as Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. Their ministry continued throughout Germany and spread to England, the United States in 1868, the Netherlands, and today includes India, Mexico, Brazil, Kenya and Nigeria.
Katharina  Kasper died on February 2, 1898. Because of her exemplary work with the poor, the sick, and the children, and following the life of Christ, the Catholic Church named her Blessed Katharina Kasper on April 16, 1978. On October 14, 2018, she was declared Saint Katharina Kasper by Pope Francis.


A Mass of thanksgiving to celebration the canonization of Saint Katharina Kasper, foundress of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, will be held in the Ancilla Domini Chapel at The Center at Donaldson on Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. EST. Bishop Kevin Rhoades from the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese and Bishop Timothy Doherty from the Lafayette Diocese will concelebrate.  A reception follows in Cana Hall. All are invited.


By Julie Dowd, Director of PHJC Communications and Marketing