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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Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, OSP (1784-1882)

Photo of Mother Mary Lange with text

Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, OSP

Who among us today has the courage to "battle the odds," even in our own church, to do the work God calls us to? Elizabeth Lange is a noble role model for all the obstacles we face!

Elizabeth Clarisse Lange was born about 1784 in Santiago, Cuba, in a Haitian community. Well educated, she left Cuba in the early 1800s and immigrated to the United States. By 1813, she had arrived in Baltimore where there was a large free Black population. She recognized the need for the education of their children and opened a school for them in her home.

Lange became acquainted with Father James Nicholas Joubert, SS, a Sulpician priest who was attempting to teach catechism to the Black children in Baltimore. Finding them not able to read well, he approached Lange and Marie Balas, a woman living with Lange, who were already operating a school. He suggested that they should start a religious order for this work. Lange and Balas had already felt a call to religious life but did not know how to go about becoming religious since no order would accept women of color. But, with the help of Joubert and the approval of the Archbishop, the Oblate Sisters of Providence was established. Lange and the other women who joined her experienced poverty, racism, and many other hardships. However, they persevered and their work flourished. Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange died in 1882. She is, today, a candidate for sainthood.

If Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange's story is new to you, perhaps you might consider reading her life story, Finger of God, by George A. A. Yorkman, Jr., 2019.

 

Resources

Learn about Mother Lange’s history and legacy in these two videos:

Mother Lange's guild and her cause for canonization, including the video “In Her Words" - www.motherlange.org

Information on Mother Lange from the Archdiocese of Baltimore

 

Reflection Questions

1. Can you name some of today's “women of color" who have exhibited the courage and stamina of Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange?

2. What are the obstacles still present in "today's Church" that prevent people of color from full participation?

 

Prayer

O God, you gifted our American Church with the energy and enthusiasm of Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange. 

She had many battles to win to do your work. 

Help us, today, to add our efforts to make our Church a Church that welcomes all, and treasures the gifts of all.

In Jesus' name, we pray.

Amen.

 

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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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