People of Color in the Church take center stage

The placid chapel at noon is alone yet alive with the sun piercing through the windows and lights emphasizing Jesus. Xaviers Chapel of Our Lady is a place of communion and prayer for all its students.

Adelaide Luna/XPress Picture

The placid chapel at noon is alone yet alive with the sun piercing through the windows and lights emphasizing Jesus. Xavier’s Chapel of Our Lady is a place of communion and prayer for all its students.

Adelaide Luna, XPress Staff Writer

Black History Month is coming up, and in celebration black priests and people of color in the Church have recently been featured. Catholics and all Americans are becoming aware that people of all races are joined together, by faith and community.

Mother Mary Lange, Saint Moses the Black, and Father Augustus Tolton are some great Catholic leaders of color who all contributed to the Church and impacted faith now.

“The Church is everyone’s home, so I guess it depends sometimes on where you live in the world that the representation of people of color may vary. The Church does not look all the same. The Catholic Church is the Universal Church. There are so many saints, bishops, religious, and faithful from every corner of the world and throughout history who are holy men and women of God,” said Brianne Sanford, assistant to Campus Ministry.

The first recorded black priest was John Augustus Tolton, or Father Augustus Tolton. He was the first Roman Catholic Priest in the United States ordained in 1886. He overcame the hardships of slavery and the pressures of being the first African-American priest. His veneration to become a saint has begun. He is a model to every Catholic and he shows how faith keeps one strong.

The Church celebrates everyone’s differences in being united, and appreciates that all people are different and unique, as God intended. Someone who recognized this was Mother Lange, who founded the Baltimore-based Oblate Sisters of Providence in 1828. She established the first black Catholic school and is, unofficially, a patron saint of education.

Saint Moses the Black was an ascetic monk and priest in Egypt in the 4th century AD. Before becoming a monk, he was a leader of bandits that roamed the Nile Valley. Moses came to the colony of Secrete to hide from authorities only to find the monks’ lives filled with peace. Moses gave up his old ways and became a spiritual leader for the colony and was later ordained a priest. He is known for calling people to reconciliation and forgiveness, and to live a life of no-violence.

“According to our Christian faith, there is one God. God loves everybody and God took on human nature through Jesus Christ. Jesus Chirst said to his disciples, ‘Go out and share the good news with all nations,’ so from the very beginning the apostles went everywhere,” said sophomore theology teacher, Greoffrey Stricklin.

Black Catholic leaders have brought faith everywhere, to help those who have sinned and to give chances to start over again. As of today, approximately 3 million African-Americans have joined the Church.

“It makes it more diverse and the Church welcomes us with open arms to join in the Catholic religion. We get to be a part of something that’s really unique,” said Violet Torres, class of ’24. 

“It is such a powerful and beautiful thing that no matter where I go in the world, what neighborhood I live in, or whatever situation I find myself in, I find my true home in the Church and with my brothers and sisters who are united in the Body of Christ,” said Sanford

For Catholics, having people from all races, cultures and backgrounds shows God’s word is being spread. With Catholic leaders of all backgrounds of cultures and diversity, the Bible can be said to reach those who want to listen.