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 begins on January 18, 2021, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This project seeks to provide information on prominent Blacks and Black Catholics who have made significant contributions to the church and society, along with reflection questions and a prayer.

 

Equity and Inclusion Project

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Saint Martín de Porres Velázquez

Statue of Martin De Porres with quote by Pope John XXIII

Saint Martín de Porres Velázquez

Martín was a mystic and prophet, an apostle of friendship, a healer, a pioneer social worker, a lover of God and all creation.

He was born in Lima, Peru, on December 9, 1579. His father was a noble Spanish man, Juan de Porres. His mother, Ana Velázquez, was a beautiful Black woman, born in Panama and presumably a descendant of African slaves. Martín and his sister, Juana, grew up in harsh circumstances. The children were often rejected due to the union of his father with a Black woman, whom they resembled. Their father abandoned the family, thus poverty and shame surrounded them during Martín’s childhood. But Martín grew up just opposite these circumstances. 

When he was 7 or 8 years old, he was allowed to go to school. He was very bright and a quick learner. At 10, he became an apprentice barber, a trade that involved knowledge of surgery and pharmacy. 

Martín started by sweeping the floor and cleaning after closing. To the surprise of his master, Martín was quick in learning. All he learned as herbalist in the pharmacy from his teacher made Martín a healer, especially to the poorest and neediest. Thus, he devoted himself to the mission of charity through healing to all ethnic groups. 

In 1594, Martín decided to knock at the door of the Dominican Convent in Lima and humbly ask to enter as a donado (a term used for people who literally donated themselves to a convent, becoming simple servants without the option to become priests). He started humbly serving by sweeping the floor and gardening. Soon his many gifts were recognized and he became the barber, wardrobe, and tooth-puller. Eventually Martín was in charge of the infirmary. 

Martín was very accurate in his prognosis of patients. His fame spread, thus many sought him for healing. He took care of poor, rich, and animals. His love-filled spirit was always moved by God’s compassion. Martín was known for the healing of body and spirit.

On the night of November 3, 1639, Martín died in the Dominican convent he entered 45 years earlier, surrounded by his Dominican brothers and many influential people he guided and cured.

His process for beatification began on June 15, 1656, but the Dominican Order waited more than 400 years for Martín’s canonization (May 6, 1962). He was the first Black saint of the Western Hemisphere.

Saint Martín de Porres is the patron saint of:

  • African Americans
  • Barbers
  • Hairdressers
  • Race Relations
  • Radio
  • Social Justice

 

Resources

Article and podcast on Saint Martin de Porres from Saint of the Day website by Franciscan Media.

"Who was Saint Martin de Porres?" by Anne Fullerton, MLIS, St. Martin de Porres School, Oakland, CA. Archived on 19 October 2013.

St. Dominic's Family: Over 300 Famous Dominicans by Sister Mary Jean Dorcy, OP, 1983, TAN Books.

"Feast of St. Martin de Porres," Dominican Praise: A Provisional Book of Prayer for Dominican Women, 2005, pages 789-790.

"Fray Escoba" - Spanish movie made in 1961

"Un mulato llamado Martin" - Mexican movie made in 1975


Reflection Questions

1. Is there something in Martín’s life that moves, touches, or challenges you?

2. Martín overcame racism and discrimination by rising above his circumstances. What can we learn from his example?

3. Pause and ponder about Martín’s compassion and commitment to the care of all God’s creation: plants, animals, and the poor and rich of all races.


Prayer

We praise and thank God for the gift of our brother Martín:

Loving God, you call us to oneness with you. Free us from the sin of racism and discrimination.

The poor, the suffering, and the oppressed are always with us. Open our hearts to respond to their needs with tenderness and compassion.

All women and men are created in your image. Help us to recognize your presence in people from other cultures.

Martín’s work of justice flowed from his contemplative prayer. Inspire us all to integrate action and contemplation.

O Holy one, you inspired Martín to serve the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed with humility and love. Guide us to follow his remarkable example.

Amen

(adapted from Dominican Praise, ©2005)

 

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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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