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Leyla Keough

Benedetto, or as he became known, Saint Benedict the Moor, was born in San Fratello, on the Italian island of Sicily, to Christopher and Diane Manasseri. His parents had been transported as slaves from Africa to Sicily, where they converted to Christianity. Benedetto worked on a farm until he gained his freedom as a teen.

Benedetto continued to work as a laborer. Sharing his wages with the poor and healing the sick, he became known as “the black saint.” He joined a group of hermits who chose Benedetto as their leader. In 1562 he became a lay brother. Stories began to circulate about his saintliness and miraculous deeds; he is said to have resurrected a young boy. Church accounts report that people of all classes in Sicily sought his prayers and his counsel. In 1578 though he was neither a priest nor literate he was chosen to lead a ...

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Estelle Appiah and Margaret D. Rouse-Jones

a pioneering Roman Catholic priest who served in the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) in West Africa and the Leeward Islands, West Indies, was born in Dominica on 28 March 1910. He was the son of Sheriff Montague and Mary Bowers. From an early age, he showed an interest in the priesthood. His father, who was a head teacher of the Massacre Government Primary School, had been the roommate of George James Christian at the Mico Training College in Antigua in the 1890s. Bowers’s father had told his son about Christian, who had migrated to the Gold Coast in 1902. Bowers had met Christian during one of the latter’s return visits to Dominica in 1922.

On completion of his secondary education in Dominica Bowers set out on his journey of self discovery He enrolled at the only seminary in the United States that accepted students of African descent ...

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Don E. Walicek

was born on 16 May 1927 into a middle-class family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His father, Montrosier Dejean, was an accountant who served for a time as the nation’s minister of finance, and his mother, Maria Parisot, was a homemaker. After completing his early education in Haiti, Dejean moved to New England, where he studied theology and thereafter entered the priesthood. He later returned to Haiti and served as a parish priest of Port-Salut for almost a decade. There, as the linguist Arthur Spears (2010) notes, Dejean used Haitian Creole with parishioners and translated the four Gospels from Greek into Haitian Creole. These experiences motivated him to pursue a graduate degree in language and linguistics. He earned an M.A. in biblical Hebrew from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 He returned home shortly thereafter but the violence of the François Duvalier regime forced him into exile in Paris five ...

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Michael Pasquier

Roman Catholic nun and founder of a religious order, was born in New Orleans, the daughter of Marie Josephe Diaz, a free woman of color, and Jean Baptiste Delille-Sarpy a wealthy white aristocrat Legally categorized as a person of mixed race Delille attended a school for free children of color under the direction of Catholic sisters in New Orleans Her father did not support the family in any measurable fashion and her mother suffered from mental illness all of which required that Delille and her two surviving siblings support themselves at a young age As a teenager she began to identify less with the aristocratic society of free people of color and more with the religious lives of Catholic sisters She became a catechist to free people of color and a lay leader in Catholic confraternities Legal and social standards however limited the extent to which she was ...

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Cyprian Davis

Roman Catholic priest, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Daniel Dorsey and Emmaline Snowden. He was baptized at St. Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore, the oldest black Catholic parish in the United States. As a young boy Dorsey was encouraged to study for the priesthood by Father John Slattery, SSJ, the superior of the Mill Hill Fathers (later the Josephites), who was interested in encouraging religious vocations among African Americans. In 1888 Dorsey was sent to St. Thomas College, a minor seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1889 he entered Mill Hill Seminary, Epiphany Apostolic College, in Baltimore. Four years later he enrolled at St. Joseph Seminary, at that time a residence for the Josephite seminarians taking courses at nearby St. Mary's Seminary.

On 21 June 1902 Dorsey was ordained a priest in the Baltimore cathedral by James Cardinal Gibbons He sang his first ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

Known as “the father of Brazilian music,” José Maurício Nunes Garcia gained recognition in the early nineteenth century as a composer of church music. He wrote hymns, masses, chants, antiphones, and Te Deums, and his Requiem Mass (1816) is considered by music scholars to be one of the most significant masses ever written in Latin America. Although he wrote mostly sacred music, he was influenced by secular styles, most notably by Italian opera and by the Viennese masters, Haydn and Mozart. One of Haydn's former students, the Austrian musician Sigismund Ritter von Neukomm, considered Garcia “the greatest improviser in the world on the clavichord.”

Born in Rio de Jainero, Garcia was the son of a Portuguese lieutenant, Apolinário Nunes Garcia, and a black woman, Vitória Maria da Cruz He studied harpsichord viola and solfège at the academy of Salvador José de Almeida e ...

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Graham Russell Hodges

Born to petit bourgeois parents in Vého, Lorraine, in rural France, Henri-Baptiste Grégoire was educated at a Jesuit college. He then became a teacher and was consequently ordained as a priest in Lorraine at the age of twenty-five. Frustrated by hierarchical barriers to advancement, he turned to writing.

Grégoire's first essays, published in the late 1770s, advocated tolerance of Jews, a position that placed Grégoire in opposition to the wave of anti-Semitism in France. In 1785 he won awards for a book reflecting his passion for Jewish rights Grégoire contended that temporal salvation by which he meant absorption into the Roman Catholic Church was individual rather than racial or national He defined his duty as working for the creation of conditions under which Jews could convert to Catholicism and be eligible for salvation To avoid social corruption he believed Jews were to be encouraged to migrate to the countryside ...

Article

Joseph A. Brown

Roman Catholic priest, liturgical scholar, and bishop, was born Wilton Daniel Gregory, in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Ethel Duncan and Wilton Gregory Sr. The maternal side of Gregory's family was part of the Great Migration of African Americans after World War I, arriving in Chicago from Oxford, Mississippi. Soon after their arrival in the North, Gregory's maternal grandmother and her sister were enrolled at St. Benedict the Moor Boarding School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, because their mother could not care for them and find work at the same time. While at St. Benedict the Moor, Gregory's grandmother, Etta Mae Duncan was baptized and received into the Roman Catholic Church Even though she was not a practicing Catholic in her later life she never lost her profound admiration and respect for the Catholic priests and nuns who provided her with a home and an education during ...

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Richard Newman

Jesuit priest and university president, was born in Jones County, Georgia, the son of Michael Morris Healy, an Irish American planter, and Eliza Clark, an African American woman he had purchased. The senior Healy deserted from the British army in Canada during the War of 1812 and by 1818 had made his way to rural Georgia, where he settled, speculated in land, and acquired a sizable plantation and numerous slaves. Healy acknowledged Eliza as “my trusty woman” in his will, which provided that she be paid an annuity, transported to a free state, and “not bartered or sold or disposed of in any way” should he predecease her. Healy also acknowledged his nine children by Eliza, although by state law they were slaves he owned, and he arranged for them to leave Georgia and move to the North, where they would become free.

After first sending his older ...

Article

David J. Endres

Roman Catholic priest and educator, was born to Mary Eliza Clark, a slave, and Michael Morris Healy, an immigrant from Ireland and a Georgia plantation owner. In 1829, Michael and Eliza entered into an unconventional union, a de facto marriage that was not recognized by law since it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry. Among their children was Alexander Sherwood the fourth of ten children born to them on the Healy plantation near Macon Georgia Legally Sherwood and all of the Healy children were born into slavery though their father never intended for them to remain on the plantation Instead he sought out possibilities for them in the North where they could be educated and escape from their status as slaves At the age of eight Healy arrived in Worcester Massachusetts to enter the grammar school of Holy Cross College After his departure ...

Article

Bobby Vaughn

instrumental in organizing grass-roots Afro-Mexican social movements in Mexico’s Costa Chica region, was born on 8 February 1946 in New Grant, Trinidad and Tobago. One of nine children born to Lloyd and Cristiana Jemmott, he studied mechanical engineering after finishing secondary school, and before he decided to dedicate himself to the religious vocation. Raised an Anglican, he converted to Catholicism at the age of 14 and entered the Seminary of St. John Vianney and the African Martyrs, in Trinidad in 1966. Jemmott’s ten years of study and service culminated in his ordination as a diocesan priest on 7 March 1976 in Rome. Jemmott relocated to Mexico in 1982 working first in Mexico City and then in the city of Oaxaca He soon asked for and received permission from the archbishop of Oaxaca to relocate to the rural coastal Costa Chica region an area that includes parts of Oaxaca ...

Article

Dismas A. Masolo

Kagame, philosopher, linguist, and historian, was born in 1912 in Kiyanza, Rwanda. A member of the traditional Tutsi royalty, Kagame was educated in the local minor and major seminaries there before being ordained into the Catholic priesthood in 1941. He later studied philosophy at the Gregorian University in Rome, where he obtained his doctoral degree in 1955. He died in Nairobi, Kenya, in December 1981.

Abbe Kagame is best known for his monumental work, La Philosophie Bantu-Rwandaise de l’Etre, published in Brussels in 1956 by the Belgian Académie Royale des Sciences Coloniales (Belgian Royal Academy of Colonial Sciences), to which he had been elected as a corresponding member since 1950 in recognition of his earlier publications which mainly featured collections of literary and historical texts gathered from the oral traditions of Rwanda and marked his dedication to the study and preservation of local knowledge ...

Article

Roland Rugero

Roman Catholic religious leader and Burundian writer, was born on 8 December 1943 in Kibumbu (province of Mwaro, commune of Layokwe) into a modest Hutu family. After primary studies in his region of origin, he undertook a religious education that led him, in Burundi, from the Petit Séminaire in Mugera to the Grand Séminaire in Burasira (1948–1958), then in Heverlee, Belgium, to the scolasticat des Pères Blancs (Société des Missionnaires d’Afrique), where he remained for a number of years. Returning to his country in 1962, he was ordained as a priest on 8 July 1963 and for a year assumed the position of parish vicar and almoner for the École Moyenne Pédagogique in Rusengo (province of Ruyigi) before returning to Europe in 1964 where for a few months he followed a complementary course of study at the École Missionaire pour l Action Catholique et l Action Sociale ECAMAS ...

Article

Tedros Abraha

Ethiopian Catholic clergyman, was born on 21 April 1886 in Hebo, a hamlet in Senadegle, a district of the Akkele Guzay region of Eritrea. After the short-lived experiment with Abune Tobiya Gebre Egziabher, who was nominated Catholic bishop of Adulis on 21 April 1788, Kidane Maryam Kasa was the first Abyssinian prelate who marked the beginning of the establishment of a native Catholic hierarchy of the Ethiopic Rite.

His parents Kasa Temmanu and Hagosa Foto were a devout and simple Catholic family His grandfather was one of the early converts of Saint Justin de Jacobis 1800 1860 an Italian missionary highly respected for his saintly life and for his total openness to Ethiopian religious values and traditions Kidane Maryam Kasa lost his father at the age of five and his widowed mother took religious vows He was fourteen years old when he decided to enter the seminary in Keren ...

Article

Jean Baptiste Labat is known for his work Nouveau voyage aux iles d'Amerique (New Voyage to the Islands of the Americas; 1722), which described the operation of plantations and the system of slavery in the French colony of Guadeloupe While critical of some aspects of slavery the work ...

Article

Mary Reginald Gerdes

educator and founder of both the oldest Catholic school for African Americans and the first order of African American nuns in the United States, the Oblate Sisters of Providence. The place and date of Lange's birth are unknown. Oral tradition says that she was born on the western part of the island of St. Domingue (now Haiti). Born Elizabeth Lange, she was the offspring of mixed parentage and was a free mulatto. Her mother was Annette Lange her father s name is unknown The revolution on the isle of St Domingue coupled with the Napoleonic revolution forced the emigration of many natives both black and white refugees fled to other parts of the Western Hemisphere Lange arrived in the United States educated refined and fluent in French When she arrived on the shores of Maryland she encountered major problems She was a free person of color in a ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

religious and political leader, was born on 22 July 1962 in the town of Muhangi, located in the Lubero district of the province of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His parents belonged to the Nande ethnic community that later became deeply embroiled in the Congolese civil wars at the turn of the twenty-first century. Little is available regarding Malu Malu's family and early life. He eventually followed a religious vocation to become a Catholic priest after attending primary and secondary school. In 1986 Malu Malu was ordained as a priest. He sent much of the 1980s studying in France. In 1988 Malu Malu completed his doctorate in political science at the University of Grenoble His subject was the role of cultural nationalist ideology in the regime of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko He continued his education in France by working on a master s thesis on ...

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Jeremy Rich

Gabonese priest and politician, was born on 9 October 1939 to a Catholic Fang-speaking family in the northern Gabonese village of Engung Eko. Through clan affiliation, he is related to Léon Mba, the first president of Gabon, and the longtime Parti Démocratique Gabonais stalwart Léon Mebiame. Like many Gabonese men of his generation, Mba Abessole attended Catholic missionary schools. Ultimately, he chose to become a priest in the Holy Ghost Fathers Congregation and attended seminary at the Holy Ghost Fathers’ headquarters in Chevilly-Larue, France. During his studies Mba Abessole mastered Greek, Latin, and Aramaic. He was ordained a priest on 30 June 1968. The young priest found his passion for Catholic social teaching to be at odds with the authoritarian single-party regime of Omar Bongo Ondimba (known as Albert-Bernard Bongo until his conversion to Islam in 1973 Mba Abessole worked as a parish priest in the slums of ...

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Vincent F. A. Golphin

clergyman, was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the eldest of six children born to Frank and Josephine Perry. Neither of the parents were high school graduates, but they placed value on education; all of the children attended college. As a family they worshipped together at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church on Mill Street.

Perry began studying for the priesthood at age thirteen as a member of the Society of the Divine Word, an international organization of missionary priests and brothers founded in 1875 to minister to populations among whom the Catholic Church did not have a strong presence. In the United States the society served mostly blacks and Indians. Perry entered the seminary at St. Augustine Divine Word Seminary in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. He made his novitiate in East Troy, Wisconsin, and studied toward ordination at Divine Word Seminary in Techny, Illinois. After ordination in 1944 ...

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Jeremy Rich

Gabonese Roman Catholic priest and scholar, was born on 19 June 1871 in Libreville in present-day Gabon to Robert Bruce Napoleon Walker and Agnourogoulé Ikoutou. Ikoutou was a female Mpongwe entrepreneur. R. B. N. Walker was an English resident of Gabon. Raponda Walker’s father, an amateur scholar and trader, took him to England for several years in the mid-1870s. After the boy returned to Libreville by 1877, his Mpongwe mother raised him. He had already learned some English, French, and Omyènè, the dominant language of the Gabonese coast and the commercial lingua franca of the entire colony, before the age of ten. Raponda Walker was so inspired by his Catholic missionary teachers that he chose in 1886 to enter the seminary and to become ordained His mother opposed his decision to become a priest on the grounds he would not be able to form his own family Although ...