News | Live Stream | Contact Us
Employment | Donate
March 22, 2022, Baltimore, Maryland – As the United States and the world come to grips with the evil of racism, Black Catholics in the United States have been involved in a letter-writing campaign to correct a blatant form of racial discrimination in the Catholic Church. No Black Catholics from the United States have been canonized as saints.
A CNN video describes the activism of Ralph E. Moore Jr., a lay man who grew up in an African-American Catholic parish in Baltimore in which all of the priests were white, and no Black images were included in the church. Moore organized the letter-writing campaign to canonize six African Americans. Some 1,500 letters were sent to Pope Francis in December 2021.
The six U.S. Black Catholics recommended for canonization are: Servant of God Mother Mary Lange (1794-1882), founder of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, Baltimore, Maryland; Venerable Pierre Toussaint (1766-1863), a philanthropist who, in spite of raising funds for St. Patrick Cathedral in New York, was not allowed to attend the dedication because of his race; Venerable Sister Henriette DeLille (1812-1862), founder of the Sisters of the Holy Family, New Orleans; Servant of God Julia Greeley (c. 1833-1918), of Denver, a philanthropist with special concern for the poor; Venerable Father Augustus Tolton (1854-1897), of Chicago, the first recognized African American priest in the United States; and Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman (1937-1990), of Jackson, Mississippi, an educator, evangelist, and social justice activist who spoke out against racism in the Catholic Church.
In the Catholic process of canonization, a Servant of God is one whose cause for canonization has begun. Once a person is recognized by the pope as having lived a life of “heroic virtue,” he or she is named Venerable. The next step, Beatification, requires an arduous investigation into the candidate’s life and writings and one authenticated miracle resulting from prayer to the candidate. Full canonization requires two miracles.
More information on the six candidates for sainthood – as well as on other prominent Black Catholics – can be found on the Black Catholic Project Equity and Inclusion page of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ website. The page is organized by the Toward Communion: Undoing Racism, Embracing Diversity Committee formed in response to the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ 2016 Enactment on Racism and Diversity.
Feature photo: Depicted on a bookmark are African American candidates for sainthood, from left, Father Augustus Tolton, Sister Henriette DeLille, Julia Greeley, Pierre Toussaint, Mother Mary Lange, and Sister Thea Bowman.
July 15, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters in ministry throughout the United States helped identify people affected by COVID-19 who could benefit from $1,000 grants issued by Catholic Extension.
Gary, the head of a household that included two other elderly adults on fixed incomes, received help in paying the three-month balance on his electric bill. Children participating in the Rosa Parks Children’s Program at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit received their own set of garden tools to help them raise and harvest vegetables to take home to their families. They also received school supplies.
Val, a single mom in Chicago who contracted the COVID-19 virus and who struggled with bills even after returning to work, received help paying her electric bill and hospital bill, and received gift cards to pay for groceries and gasoline. Two women served by the St. Kateri Center in Chicago received help in paying their bills: Paula, an iron worker in Chicago and the single mother of four children, worked sporadically and was disqualified from unemployment benefits. Tina, who cares for two grandchildren, was laid off from her work of cleaning the rooms at Palmer House in Chicago.
These individuals and their families were the beneficiaries of special grants: the Sisters on the Front Lines Grants from Catholic Extension and, for the individuals in Chicago, grants from Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA), which focused its Sisters on the Front Lines grants to families in Chicago. Catholic Extension, a member organization of FADICA, gives grants to underserved, “mission” Catholic communities in the United States to help them build up the Catholic presence.
The grants went to Adrian Dominican Sisters who minister to people on the margins and who knew individuals and families who had special financial needs as a direct result of the pandemic.
Sister Jane Zimmerman, a spiritual director at Marillac St. Vincent Family Services in Chicago, said it was a privilege to work with Val to receive the grant. “Val was overjoyed and so grateful to have received this unexpected assistance,” Sister Jane said. “As for me, the experience gave me the opportunity to reflect on our Adrian Dominican commitment to ‘walk in solidarity with people who are poor.’”
Sister JoAnn Fleischaker, OP, who worked with both Tina and Paula at the Kateri Center, said she was also grateful for the assistance from FADICA. She has been involved in the Kateri Center, a center for Native Americans in Chicago, since 2015, after ministering for 21 years in Oklahoma as part of a Dominican collaborative ministry with the Cheyenne and Arapaho.
Sister Maureen McGrath, OP, Director of the Catholic Community Center in Benton Harbor, Michigan, described Gary as the “kindest, most grateful man.” Thanks to the Sisters on the Front Lines grant, she said, “we were able to assist Gary with an electric bill which required more assistance than we could have pledged … When I told him about the Catholic Extension gift, he almost cried, he was so very grateful for the relief.”
Sister Nancyann Turner, OP, recent Program Director for the Rosa Parks Children’s Program, said the grant money was used for the Children’s Peace Garden Program. “With monies from the grant, sessions were held more often but smaller so that children could keep a social distance from each other.”
These grants – and several more – were shepherded by Sister Nancy Murray, OP. While she was sidelined during the pandemic from her formal ministry – portraying St. Catherine of Siena at parishes, schools and other organizations throughout the world. She coordinated the $1,000 grants to families served by organizations in which Adrian Dominican Sisters were involved.
Catholic Extension announced the campaign, Sisters on the Front Lines, in June 2020 as a way to serve people whose lives have been affected by COVID-19. The plan was to give grants of $1,000 to 1,000 Sisters, knowing that they would know which families needed help because of the pandemic.
Sister Nancy originally reached out to Adrian Dominican Sisters who worked with organizations that served people facing poverty or homelessness. Other Sisters who received the grants for individuals or families were Sister Theresa Mayrand, OP, Associate Director of Gianna House, Detroit, which offers resources to pregnant teenagers and to all new mothers in need; Sister Carol Weber, OP, Co-founder and Co-director of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, Flint, Michigan, which offers a variety of services to help people in the Flint community to become self-sustaining; and Sister Patricia Leonard, OP, Associate Director of St. Ann Place, which provides services to homeless women and men in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Sister Nancy also received a grant for an Adrian area migrant farm worker family that is suffering economically because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other Sisters receiving the grant through FADICA were Sister Joan Mary, OP, who, as a volunteer at Aquinas Literacy Center in Chicago, tutored a woman who became pregnant and went to Syria to be with her mother. The grant enabled the literacy center to purchase laptops for adult learners so that they could continue to be tutored remotely.
Sister Eunice Drazba, OP, procured a grant for an employee who had been laid off from St. Leonard’s Ministries, which helps men and women leaving the prison system to adapt successfully in the community. Sister Dorothy Dempsey, OP, received a grant for a family with a special needs child.
Feature photo: Paula, with one of her daughters, received a check from FADICA to help her catch up on her bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was identified by Sister Jo Ann Fleischaker, OP, as heading a family that needed a grant.