Located at 34 Wentworth Street in historic Charleston, South Carolina, the Drexel House is a Catholic Residence for Men. Inspired by the living legacy of St. Katharine Drexel, the community life of the Drexel House is grounded and centered on the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The mission of the Drexel House is to nurture and inspire the Faith of the men within the community, and to promote an apostolic witness within the Diocese of Charleston. This mission finds its summit and source in the Eucharist and personal prayer. It is expressed through an open discernment of God's will, fraternal living, Christian virtue, and selfless service in Christ's Name.
Established by Bishop Robert Guglielmone, D.D., on July 31, 2011, the Drexel House is open to mature men (ages 20-35) who are actively living their Catholic Christian Faith, and who are open to discerning God's will in their lives.
In 1866, shortly after the Civil War, Bishop Patrick Lynch purchased a former synagogue at 34 Wentworth Street. Two years later, the Bishop consecrated the property as St. Peter's Catholic Church, and the new parish became a center of worship and evangelization to the African-American Catholics of Charleston.
In 1917, Bishop Russell appointed the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans) and the Oblate Sisters of Providence to minister to the parish and schools associated with the parish.
In her visit to Charleston in 1929, St. Katharine Drexel visited the parish and schools of St. Peter's (located on Wentworth and surrounding streets).
In 1968, the parish was closed and the community moved to St. Patrick's Church. In the same year, due to age and needs for repairs on its buildings, Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler approved the razing of the old church and rectory, and commissioned a new convent for the Oblate Sisters.
The Oblate Sisters served the Catholic community in Charleston for 82 years, and lived active Religious life at 34 Wentworth Street for 31 of those years. In 1999, due to decreased numbers in the Order, the Oblate Sisters left South Carolina.
In 2001, Bishop Robert Baker gave the former convent the new name of "The Drexel House," in honor of Mother Drexel's historic visit to the property and her canonization by Pope John Paul II in 2000.
The Wentworth property was used for various outreaches through 2001-2010, including an attempt to begin a diocesan Volunteer Program. In 2011, after these different efforts, Bishop Robert Guglielmone opened the Drexel House as a Catholic Residence for Men and moved the diocesan Vocations Office to the residence.
Mother Katharine Drexel
In the face of such daunting realities of poverty, ignorance, racism, and violence, Mother Katharine Drexel was a witness and missionary of love, peace, and selfless service.
Katharine was born to a wealthy family. She lost her mother at a young age, and nursed her beloved stepmother through a three-year terminal illness. These experiences taught her compassion and kindness.
Pope Leo XIII challenged young Katharine to become a missionary, and the young woman donated her entire inheritance of 20 million to the care and help of those in poverty and need. Today this amount would measure in excess of 200 million.
Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and stressed that the Eucharist was the heart of the Christian’s outreach and care of the poor and lonely.
Mother Drexel traveled extensively, including a visit to Charleston, S.C. in 1929. She tirelessly labored with love to change views and strengthen those in need.
By 1942, Mother Drexel saw the establishment of 40 mission centers, 23 rural schools, 50 Native American centers, and the creation of Xavier University in New Orleans.
Mother frequently said: "We must attract with joy."
At age 77, Mother suffered a serious heart attack. For almost 20 years afterward, her health forced her to live a quiet life of prayer and counsel. She would not surrender to self-pity or envy, but encouraged the Sisters to continue the work of the Lord.
In 1955, at the age of 96, Mother Drexel passed from this life to the next. She received the cherished reward of a child of God.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Katharine Drexel, raising her to the dignity of the altar and claiming her as a model of Christian discipleship. Her feast day is March 3.