OUR HOLY ONES
OUR PATRON - ST. EDWARD THE CONFESSOR
Feast Day: October 13th
Edward the Confessor was the son of King Ethelred III and his Norman wife, Emma, daughter of Duke Richard I of Normandy. He was born at Islip, England, and sent to Normandy with his mother in the year 1013 when the Danes under Sweyn and his son Canute invaded England. Canute remained in England and the year after Ethelred's death in 1016, married Emma, who had returned to England, and became King of England. Edward remained in Normandy, was brought up a Norman, and in 1042, on the death of his half-brother, Hardicanute, son of Canute and Emma, and largely through the support of the powerful Earl Godwin, he was acclaimed king of England. In 1044, he married Godwin's daughter Edith.
His reign was a peaceful one characterized by his good rule and remission of odious taxes, but also by the struggle, partly caused by his natural inclination to favor the Normans, between Godwin and his Saxon supporters and the Norman barons, including Robert of Jumieges, whom Edward had brought with him when he returned to England and whom he named Archbishop of Canterbury in 1051. In the same year, Edward banished Godwin, who took refuge in Flanders but returned the following year with a fleet ready to lead a rebellion. Armed revolt was avoided when the two men met and settled their differences; among them was the Archbishop of Canterbury, which was resolved when Edward replaced Robert with Stigand, and Robert returned to Normandy. Edward's difficulties continued after Godwin's death in 1053 with Godwin's two sons: Harold who had his eye on the throne since Edward was childless, and Tostig, Earl of Northumbria. Tostig was driven from Northumbria by a revolt in 1065 and banished to Europe by Edward, who named Harold his successor. After this Edward became more interested in religious affairs and built St. Peter's Abbey at Westminster, the site of the present Abbey, where he is buried. His piety gained him the surname "the Confessor". He died in London on January 5, and he was canonized in 1161 by Pope Alexander III. His feast day is October 13.
OUR BENEFACTOR - ST. KATHARINE DREXEL
Feast Day: March 3rd
St. Katharine Drexel, American founder of the Blessed Sacrament Sisters for Indians and Colored People (now Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament), a congregation of missionary nuns dedicated to the welfare of American Indians and African Americans. She is the patron saint of racial justice and of philanthropists.
Drexel was the daughter of the American financier and philanthropist Francis Anthony Drexel. Her mother, Hannah Langstroth, died five weeks after Katharine was born, and Katharine and her sister were cared for by their aunt and uncle until their father remarried in 1860. The family was active in charitable works and distributed food, clothing, and money from their home twice a week. As a young adult, Katharine was deeply impacted by her stepmother’s long and painful battle with terminal cancer and marked that as a pivotal time in her life. In 1884 she traveled with her father and sisters to the western states, where they witnessed the poverty and destitution of Native Americans on reservation lands.
When her father died in 1885, she and her sisters inherited a vast fortune. Believing that all people should have access to education, she continued the work earlier undertaken by the family of founding and endowing schools and churches for African Americans and Native Americans in the South and West. She later visited these establishments, touring by burro and stagecoach. While in Rome (January 1887), she had a private audience with Pope Leo XIII to indicate a need for nuns to staff her mission schools. The pope challenged her to devote her life as well as her fortune to the missions.
SERVANT OF GOD MOTHER MARY LANGE
Day of Remembrance: February 3rd
Servant of God Mother Mary Lange was born Elizabeth Clarisse Lange. Her parents were refugees who fled to Cuba from the revolution taking place in their native Saint Domingue. In the early 1800s, young Elizabeth left Santiago, Cuba, to seek peace and security in the United States. Providence directed her to Baltimore, Maryland, where a significant influx of French-speaking Catholic Saint Domingue refugees settled. Elizabeth Lange came to Baltimore as a courageous, loving, deeply spiritual woman. Although she was a refugee, she was well educated and independent, possessing monies left to her by her father.
Elizabeth recognized that the children of her fellow refugees needed education. She used her own money and home to educate these children of color. She founded and became the first superior of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, taking the name of Mary. These women demonstrated leadership and divinely daring in the face of poverty, racism, humiliations, and untold hardships.
The assortment of works undertaken by the sisters includes but are not limited to educating youth, housing orphans, nursing terminally ill, sheltering the elderly, making vestments, begging, and borrowing so that the solid virtue, religious and moral principles could be transferred as a legacy to the children.
The Black and Indian Mission Office
VENERABLE PIERRE TOUSSAINT
Day of Remembrance: June 30th
Venerable Pierre Toussaint was born in 1766 on the French island of Saint-Domingue (Haiti). Unrest and uncertainty in Saint-Domingue before and during the Haitian Revolution caused many slave owners to depart the island with their slaves. The Berard family was among those who took flight to the United States in 1787. Berard returned to Saint-Domingue in 1791 to check on his property, but he died there, leaving Marie widowed in New York.
While in New York, Pierre was an apprentice to a hairdresser. As a young man, he became highly proficient and in high demand. He earned enough money to take care of his widowed mistress, Marie. He even purchased the freedom of other slaves, including his future wife, Juliette Noel.
As a devoted Catholic, Pierre was extremely charitable throughout his life to the Catholic Church and other institutions. The Toussaint family used their home to provide refuge for orphan children. He assisted French-speaking immigrants arriving in New York from Haiti. They also organized a credit bureau and employment agency. Pierre and Juliette were benefactors of the First New York City Catholic School for black children and the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a Catholic school in Baltimore established to educate black girls. He is the father of the organization which is known as Catholic Charities.
Slavery and Remembrance
VENERABLE HENRIETTE DELILLE
Day of Remembrance: November 16th
Born in 1812 as a free woman of color, Venerable Henriette Delille lived in New Orleans. Her mother and others in her family were part of the plaçage system, which meant women of color and wealthy white men were “in concubinage”.
However, in her early 20s, Henriette declared that she could not reconcile her religious convictions with the plaçage lifestyle she was engaged. Raised Catholic, which was typical for free people of color at the time, she had recently had a profound encounter with God. She believed that the plaçage system violated Church teaching on the sanctity of marriage.
In 1836, wanting to dedicate her life to God, Henriette used the proceeds of an inheritance to found a small unrecognized order of nuns, the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her non-white heritage had barred her from admission to the Ursuline and Carmelite orders, which only accepted white women at the time.
This group would eventually become the sisters of the Holy Family. The congregation did everything from opening the first home for the elderly to caring for the sick and dying during the 1853 and 1897 yellow fever epidemics that plagued New Orleans. Mother Henriette’s simple prayer stated, “I believe in God. I hope in God. I love God. I want to live and die for God.”
SERVANT OF GOD THEA BOWMAN
Day of Remembrance: December 29th
Born December 29, 1937, in Yazoo City, Mississippi, Servant of God, Sister Thea Bowman was reared as a Protestant until age nine, when she asked her parents if she could become a Catholic.
At the age of fifteen, she told her parents and friends she wanted to join the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. She left the familiar Mississippi terrain to venture to the unfamiliar town of Lacrosse, Wisconsin, where she would be the only African-American member of her religious community.
Gifted with a brilliant mind, beautiful voice, and a dynamic personality, Sister Thea shared the message of God's love through a teaching career. After 16 years of teaching at the elementary, secondary, and university level, the bishop of Jackson, Mississippi, invited her to become the consultant for intercultural awareness.
In her role as a consultant, Sister Thea, an African American, gave presentations across the country; lively gatherings that combined singing, gospel preaching, prayer, and storytelling. Her programs were directed to break down racial and cultural barriers. She encouraged people to communicate with one another so that they could understand other cultures and races.
Sister Thea Bowman Cause for Canonization
VENERABLE FR. AUGUSTUS TOLTON
Day of Remembrance: July 9th
Venerable Fr. Augustus Tolton was born a slave in Brush Creek, MO, in 1854. His mother led the family across the Mississippi River to freedom in Quincy, IL, in 1862.
Eight-year-old Augustus offered to work for Fr. Peter McGirr for food. Father gave him a meal and asked him if he wanted to go to St. Peter Catholic School. Young Augustus excelled in school. He was baptized soon afterward and studied with Fr. McGirr to make his Holy Communion. As a teenager, he taught religion classes to black children of Quincy, Illinois. After serving a summer as Altar Boy for the 5 a.m. Mass, Fr. McGirr asked young Augustus if he would like to become a priest.
He was refused seminary training in this country because of his race, but sympathetic priests and nuns helped him receive proper education and eventually seminary formation in Rome. He was the first recognized African American to become a Roman Catholic Priest.
Biography of Father Tolton
SERVANT OF GOD JULIA GREELEY
Servant of God Julia Greeley lived first a life of slavery and then a life of service. Estimates of the year of her birth range from the mid-1830s to the mid-1850s. What is known is that she was from Hannibal, Missouri and that she was born into slavery. Freed by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Julia earned her keep by serving white families in Missouri, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico—though mainly in the Denver area.
Whatever she did not need for herself, Julia spent assisting low-income families in her neighborhood. When her resources were inadequate, she begged for food, fuel, and clothing for the needy. One writer later called her a “one-person St. Vincent de Paul Society.”
Her devotion to her Catholic faith took many other forms. She fasted each day until noon, telling the priests, “My communion is my breakfast.” Each month, she walked to all the fire stations in the city to hand out Catholic leaflets. She passed out the leaflets to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, saying, “They are all God’s children.” Denver Fire Station no. 1, at 1326 Tremont, was one of the stations Julia visited each month.
To avoid embarrassing the people she helped, Julia did most of her charitable work under cover of night through dark alleys with her signature red wagon.
The Black and Indian Mission Office