St. Katharine Drexel, Egg Harbor Twp.

St. Katharine Drexel parish was established on June 1, 2000 by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio with the approval of the College of Consultors. The founding pastor is Rev. Joseph R. Ferrara, appointed June 20, 2000. The new parish boundaries were drawn from sections of seven surrounding parishes very symbolic of the seven hills of Rome.

The history of the Church of St. Katharine Drexel begins with John McKee born 1821 in Alexandria, Virginia. John McKee was the son of slaves and worked a an apprentice to a bricklayer through his teens. Throughout his life, he worked hard and acquired many pieces of property which included 4,000 acres in Atlantic County, of which 2,500 are in Egg Harbor Township. Much of the property acquired in Egg Harbor Twp. became known as McKee City. Colonel John McKee died in 1902 before his dream city was finished. At the time of his death his obituary read, "Colonel McKee is said to be the wealthiest colored man in the United States". In his Last Will and Testament he bequeathed the remainder of his estate to the Most Reverend Patrick John Ryan, Archbishop of Philadelphia and his successors in Office, to be used for various uses and trusts. The Diocese of Camden, under the leadership of Bishop DiMarzio, began work on creating this new parish in collaboration with Egg Harbor Township officials. After establishing the parish in March 2000, the next step was to obtain this property from the Philadelphia Archdiocese. The property was purchased and conveyed by the Archbishop of Philadelphia to the Bishop of Camden Diocese by Court Order dated March 9, 2001; this the Church of Saint Katharine Drexel began its own distinct ministry as the 141st parish in the Diocese of Camden. In little more than two years, the Church of St. Katharine Drexel has grown to over 750 families with 2,500 members. The parish family has built a Parish Center which includes the Pastor's residence, offices and a chapel. Although there is now church "building" yet, there is a vibrant, worshiping community which celebrates the presence of Christ Jesus through liturgy, many ministries, and an extensive religious education program. The future looks bright as we look forward to "Building God's House; Building Our Home!"

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