Equity and Inclusion


In response to the proposal from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) that congregations focus on the dismantling of racism, the Adrian Dominican Sisters began by identifying resources that can assist us in raising our consciousness of white privilege and white supremacy, both personally and systematically.

Our Toward Communion: Undoing Racism and Embracing Diversity Committee and our Justice Promoters are collaborating on a Black Catholic Project that began on January 18, 2021, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This project provides information on prominent Black Catholics who have made significant contributions to the church and society, along with reflection questions and a prayer.

Now named the Equity and Inclusion Project, it continues in partnership with creators of the 2020 Black Catholic Heroes Project. Many images used this year were painted by students employed by the College for Creative Studies’ Detroit Neighborhood Arts Corps. These images are used with permission.

 

Equity and Inclusion Project

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Anne Marie Becraft (1805-1833)

Anne Marie Becraft banner with quote and building named for her

Anne Marie Becraft (1805-1833)

Anne Marie Becraft had an extraordinary journey in Black History and in the Catholic Church. She was born in 1805 and lived her short life in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland. She was a free Black woman who devoted her life to education and faith. She lived during a challenging time for free Black people. She knew the value of education for all people and allowed nothing to deter her in providing education for Black girls.

At age 4, Anne began her own education in a school in Washington, D.C. This school was for both white and black children. This school closed in 1820 for racial reasons.

In that same year, at age 15, Anne started her own school for Black girls in Georgetown and operated it for the next eight years. She established her school in the midst of the nation’s and the Church’s slaveholding elite in Washington and Alexandria, Virginia. The school was known as Georgetown Seminary and was a declaration that Black people mattered, especially girls and women. With an average enrollment of 30-35 students, it was an academy for both Black boarders and day students. The girls were from the best Black families of the area. According to the encyclopedia Black Women in America, “she lived in a society in which slavery and racism were firmly entrenched, yet even in such a society she was able to stimulate in her students a desire for educational attainment.”

In 1831, Anne, felt called to religious life. She left the school in the hands of a promising student and moved to Baltimore to join the only religious order that would accept Black women. She became the 11th Black woman to join the Oblate Sisters of Providence and took the name Sister Aloysius.  

On December 16, 1833, at age 28, Anne died from a chronic chest ailment.

Anne’s father, William, was the son of a free Black woman who worked as a housekeeper for Charles Carroll, cousin of Archbishop John Carroll, who founded Georgetown University. It is documented that William was the natural son of Charles, making Anne the granddaughter of Charles.

To honor the legacy of Anne and her dedication to Black education, Georgetown University named a building in her honor in 2017.

 

Resources

"The Black Catholic Nun Every American Should Know" by Shannen Dee Williams, posted March 3, 2020, at NCR's Global Sister Reports. https://www.globalsistersreport.org/news/social-justice/blog/anne-marie-becraft-recognized-georgetown-university-pioneer-black-nun-early

"Highlighting Anne Marie Becraft" by Justine Wordon, posted November 13, 2020, at The Boston Pilot's Echoes.
https://www.thebostonpilot.com/opinion/article.asp?ID=188833

"Viewpoint: Celebrating Anne Marie Becraft" by Melanne Verveer, posted April 18, 2017, at Georgetown University's student newspaper, The Hoya.
https://thehoya.com/viewpoint-celebrating-anne-marie-becraft

Video about Anne Marie Becraft by Georgetown University.
https://youtu.be/8UMRU-K7Py0 


Reflection Questions

1. How incomprehensible, how amazing is it that a 15-year-old girl of color could establish a school in the 1830s in Washington, D.C.?

2. Ponder her commitment to the importance of education for girls of her race.


Prayer

Holy One of justice and love, give strength to our hearts as we continue to struggle with OUR OWN sin of racism.

May Anne Marie be an inspiration to us, in doing the seemingly impossible tasks to better our world racially. Like her, may we meet courageously the struggles and inequities of our own time.

Give us the insight and vision to move forward in love and justice.

Amen

 

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Avatar  Anneliese Sinnott 10 months agoReply

How is it that so many of us know so little about women like Anne Marie Becraft? We, who claim to be about the task of liberating women, have huge holes in our learning and teaching!



People of African Descent on the Path to Sainthood

Printable bookmark of African Americans on their Way to Sainthood (PDF)

U.S. Black Catholic History Links

Black Catholic History page by Seattle University

Timeline from the National Black Catholic Congress

Sister Jamie T. Phelps, OP, discusses Black Catholics in America with Dr. Paul Lakeland for Fairfield University's "Voices of Others" video series

News report on one of the oldest Black Catholic parishes in the U.S., St. Elizabeth Catholic Church (formerly St. Monica) in Chicago, Illinois

 

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