Our Foundress

Catherine Kasper was born May 26, 1820 in Dernbach, Germany. Her parents were Henry Kasper and Katherine (Fassel). Her father had been married before and had four daughters. In his second marriage he and Katherine had four children: Peter, Christian, Catherine and Joseph.

As a young child of six, Catherine went to the school in her little village. Reading was the subject she liked most. She would help in the family's potato patch and with other tasks. Her mother taught her household chores as well as how to spin and weave fabric.

Often other children would gather around Catherine and they would visit a Marian shrine outside their village. They would sing on the way and Catherine would tell stories about God and Mary.

Catherine's father died when she was 21 years old. Because of the law, all the property went to the four children of the first wife, Anna Margaret Kasper, to the exclusion of the second Mrs. Kasper and her children. Catherine and her mother had to rent from the Matthias Müller family. Although Catherine's mother was 56 years old when her husband died, she was not in good health. Catherine worked the land and hired out for about 10 cents a day as a "farm hand."

Because she helped others in ordinary ways, other young girls were attracted by Catherine’s example of service. Together Catherine and four other women formed the religious community, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ when they pronounced the public vows of poverty, chastity and obedience on August 15, 1851.

Their ministry continued throughout Germany and spread to England, the United States in 1868, the Netherlands, India, Mexico, Brazil, Kenya and Nigeria.

Catherine Kasper, known in religious life, as Mother Mary, died on February 2, 1898. Her good works and following the life of Christ caused the Catholic Church to name her Blessed Catherine Kasper on April 16, 1978.

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