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 begin 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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Mariana Grajales Cuello (1815 - 1893)

sketch of Mariana Grajales Cuello

Mariana Grajales Cuello (1815-1893)

In 1957, the Mayor of Havana, Justo Luis Pozo del Puerto, officially declared Dona Mariana Grajales de Maceo the “Mother of Cuba.” A popular patriot, she advocated for human rights, Cuban independence, and the elimination of slavery. She was a faithful Catholic and fought intensely against Spain’s aggressive subjugation of Cuba that caused pain and suffering to her people.

Mariana was the daughter of free bi-racial parents from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. From her beloved parents she learned her faith and the idea of human equality. At the time she was born, black and bi-racial people occupied the lowest rank of social acceptance.

The family was a loving and tight unit. Mariana had consistent ground rules. She combined nurturing with high expectations of her children. She modeled her faith to her children.

She was a simple woman motivated by her deep faith that stood strong against the oppressive values and injustices in Cuba. Mariana affirmed her principles, struggling for Cuban independence and freedom for all.

During the War for Independence Mariana was in the wetlands tending to the wounded when her son, Antonio, was brought to her. Rather than become flustered, she became exalted in her commitment to the rebellion. Her equanimity and valor flourished through her deep faith.

Mariana Grajales’ influence in the economy and social relationships was long and lasting. Her family managed a farm and had two residences. Their generosity and kindness were known throughout the land.

Mariana died in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1893 just before Cuba was declared free. Her remains were transferred to her homeland and rest in the cemetery of Santiago de Cuba, under the blue sky of the land liberated by her sons.



Garcia, Pedro Antonio. Bohemia, Revista Cubana de Actualidad General, Cuba Siglo XIX: “Mariana, Marcos y los Maceo Grajales,” publicado el 12 Julio, 2018.

Documentos y testimonios facilitados por Olga Portuondo, Joel Mourlot y los investigadores del Centro de Estudios Antonio Maceo de Santiago de Cuba

Marmol, José (1998). Antonio Maceo Grajales El Titán de Bronce. Miami: Ediciones Universal.

Sarabia, Nydia (2006). Historia de una familia mambisa, de la compilación Papeles de Maceo.

Wikipedia article on Mariana

Article on Black Past website by Luis Escamilla - https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/grajales-cuello-mariana-1808-1893

Video on "Mother of Cuba" Mariana Grajales Cuello from The Root

Cuban Genealogy Podcast episode on Mariana (14 minutes)

"Society, Culture, and Heroes: Depictions of Cuban Heroine Mariana Grajales Cuello, 1893-2000," Research paper by Rachel Elaine Archer, 2001

Reflection Questions

1. Have you experienced being a member of the lowest rank in any social circumstance?

2. If yes, what have you learned? If not, what can you learn?


Let us offer praise and thanksgiving to the Divine for women everywhere who inspire and challenge us with their valor, equanimity, and willingness to risk and dissent for the dignity and freedom of all.



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People of African Descent on the Path to Sainthood


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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