Sr. Thea Bowman, born Bertha Elizabeth Bowman on December 29, 1937 in Yazoo Mississippi, to Dr. Theo Bowman, (physician) and wife Mary Esther Bowman a teacher. Bertha was raised in Canton Mississippi. Although Bertha was baptized Episcopalian and raised Methodist, she had an avid curiosity for all religions. “But once when I went to the Catholic Church, my wanderings ceased. I knew I had found that for which I had been seeking,” she wrote. She was baptized Catholic and made her first communion at age 9. When she was 12, her parents enrolled her at Holy Child Jesus Catholic School, which was run by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration from Wisconsin. The life and work of the sisters so impressed her that, at age 15, she joined them by entering St. Rose Convent in La Crosse, Wisconsin where she would be the only African-American member of her religious community. At a time when Civil rights where being challenge Sr. Thea forge forward through prejudice anger and resentment, she progressed successfully through the formative years of religious life and the academic world. Thea received a doctorate in English Literature and Linguistics from Catholic University of America. During these years, she developed a deep appreciation for her identity as both an African American and as a Catholic. As her mission unfolded, she celebrated the gifts of all people and encouraged Black Americans to proudly celebrate their own identity, being fully black and fully Catholic and being a full participant in spiritual lives. Blessed with extraordinary talent, she became a poet, a preacher, a master teacher, a vocalist, an evangelist, and an African American catalyst. Sr. Thea Bowman taught young people about the joy of being Christian and she challenged her church to accept her as “fully Black and fully Catholic.
A Spanish Jesuit priest and missionary born September 8, 1518 in Verdu Catalonia, Spain; died September 4, 1654 in Cartagena, Colombia. He dedicated his life to minister and to aide African slaves who survived the long journey from their homeland for forty years until his death. St. Peter Claver actually boarded slave ships when they arrived in port to provide aide to the African “cargo.” It is estimated that St Peter Claver baptized over 300,000 slaves. St Peter Claver became known as the “Apostle of the Negros.” He is considered the heroic example of Christian love and of human rights. He arrived in Cartagena, Columbia a major slave trading port in colonial times. It was the key city in the new world for the administration and expansion of the Spanish empire and the center of ecclesiastical, political and economic power of Spain. Pope Paul III condemned the slave trade and Pope Urban VIII later prohibited it through a papal decree. St Peter Claver is the patron saint of slaves, African Americans, The Republic of Columbia, seafarers as well as The Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary, the largest African American fraternal society in the United States.
1. It pleases Jesus to entrust yourself to her
“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr
”Jesus honored her before all ages, and will honor her for all ages. No one comes to Him, nor even near Him, no one is saved or sanctified, if he too will not honor her. This is the lot of Angels and of men.”
2. On the cross Jesus commanded us to take Mary into our homes (our hearts)
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr
“If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his Mother, he will not have Christ for his Brother.”
Saint Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church
“Mary seeks for those who approach her devoutly and with reverence, for such she loves, nourishes, and adopts as her children.”
3. Mary’s greatest desire is for our greater unity with her Son, Jesus
“We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor his Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.”Saint Louis Marie de Montfort
Saint Cardinal John Henry New
“The reason why Christ is unknown today is because His Mother is unknown.”
4. Mary cares for her Children and entrustment to her
Immaculate heart is the easiest way to heaven
“If you invoke the Blessed Virgin when you are tempted, she will come at once to your help, and Satan will leave you.”St. John Vianney
“If you ever feel distressed during your day — call upon our Lady — just say this simple prayer: ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.’ I must admit — this prayer has never failed me.”Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa)
St. Josemaria Escriva
“Love our Lady. And she will obtain abundant grace to help you conquer in your daily struggle.”
5. There is no more perfect way to holiness and to Jesus than through our Mother Mary
“The greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them.”Saint Louis Marie de Montfort
“Have you strayed from the path leading to heaven? Then call on Mary, for her name means “Star of the Sea, the North Star which guides the ships of our souls during the voyage of this life,” and she will guide you to the harbor of eternal salvation.”St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, The Secret Of The Rosary
St. John the Baptist will have an information/preparation program to help prepare anyone who is interested in consecration to Jesus through Mary after Easter during May, the month of Mary
Fr. Augustus Tolton (April 1, 1856-July 8, 1897) was born into enslavement in Missouri. He was baptized as Augustine Tolton. According to Fr. Tolton his father escaped to Illinois and his family followed later and settled in Quincy, IL. He met Fr. Peter McGirr in Quincy who allowed him to be educated at the local Parrish School over the objections of parishioners.
Fr. Tolton applied and was rejected from all American Seminaries where he had applied. With the help of Fr. McGirr, he attended seminary in Rome. He was ordained into the priesthood in 1886 at the age of 31 and celebrated his first mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Easter Sunday.
He was sent back to Illinois to serve the Black community. He celebrated his first mass in Quincy at St. Boniface. He was then sent to Chicago. While there he led the development and administration of St. Monica Catholic Church which was known as “The Negro National Catholic Church.”
Fr. Gus as he was called by parishioners was known for his grace, eloquent homilies and sweet singing voice. His ministry was one of inclusion & ministered not only to the Black community, but all marginalized communities. He attracted parishioners from all races.
On March 10, 2010 Cardinal Francis George of Chicago announced the beginning of an investigation into the canonization of Fr. Tolton. This cause was advanced by the Dioceses of Springfield, IL and Jefferson, MO. On June 12, 2019, Pope Francis authorized the promulgation of a “Decree of Heroic Virtue” advancing the cause of Servant of God Augustine Tolton and now has the title of “Venerable.”
We do not know very much about Elizabeth Lange’s early life. Research points to Santiago de Cuba as her birthplace. Most likely she grew up in the French speaking area of the city. Because she was well educated, we believe that she came from a family of some means and social standing.
This 1916 photo provided by the Archdiocese of Denver shows Julia Greeley with Marjorie Ann Urquhart in McDonough Park in Denver. Greeley, a former slave, is being considered for possible sainthood. In a step toward possible sainthood, the remains of Greeley were moved to a Catholic cathedral in Denver. People lined up Wednesday, June 7, 2017, to honor her and pray for her help at the cathedral. (Archdiocese of Denver via AP)
By 1813 Elizabeth Lange was living in Baltimore. She was a courageous, loving and deeply spiritual woman. It did not take Lange long to recognize that the children of her fellow Caribbean immigrants needed education. She was determined to respond to that need in spite of being a black woman in a slave state long before the Emancipation Proclamation. She used her own money and home to educate children of color. Elizabeth, with a friend, Marie Magdelaine Balas, offered free education to children in their home in the Fells Point area of the city.
Early in 1828 Reverend James Hector Joubert, S.S. who, encouraged by Archbishop James Whitfield, asked Elizabeth Lange to start a school for girls of color. She asked Father Joubert if they should start a women religious order too. But how was this to be? Black men and women could not aspire to religious life at that time. But now God provided a way! On July 2, 1829, Elizabeth and three other women pronounced promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience to Archbishop Whitfield and the chosen superior.
She was superior general from 1829 to 1832, and again from 1835 to 1841. She helped to nurse the sick during the Cholera Epidemic in the early 1830s and in the mid-1840s. When Sister Frances died, she took her place working as a domestic at Saint Mary’s Seminary, and from 1850 – 1860 she was the novice mistress for the fledgling Oblate order.
Mother Mary’s early life had prepared her well for the turbulence that followed the death of Fr. Joubert. She suffered violence of soul as she was buffeted by poverty and racial injustice. There was a sense of abandonment at the dwindling number of pupils and defections of her closest companions and co-workers. Yet, through it all Mother Mary never lost faith in Providence. She lived through disappointment and opposition until God called her home on February 3, 1882
In 1991 William Cardinal Keeler, the then Archbishop of Baltimore officially opened formal investigation into her life of union with God and works of charity which could lead to her canonization as saint in the Catholic Church.
Born in modern-day Haiti and brought to New York City as a slave, Pierre died a free man, a renowned hairdresser, and one of New York City’s most well-known Catholics.
Plantation owner Pierre Bérard made Toussaint a house slave and allowed his grandmother to teach her grandson how to read and write. In his early 20s, Pierre, his younger sister, his aunt, and two other house slaves accompanied their master’s son to New York City because of political unrest at home. Apprenticed to a local hairdresser, Pierre learned the trade quickly and eventually worked very successfully in the homes of rich women in New York City.
When his master died, Pierre was determined to support himself, his master’s widow, and the other house slaves. He was freed shortly before the widow’s death in 1807.
Four years later, he married Marie Rose Juliette, whose freedom he had purchased. They later adopted Euphémie, his orphaned niece. Both preceded Pierre in death. He attended daily Mass at St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street, the same parish that Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton had attended.
Pierre donated to various charities, generously assisting blacks and whites in need. He and his wife opened their home to orphans and educated them. The couple also nursed abandoned people who were suffering from yellow fever. Urged to retire and enjoy the wealth he had accumulated, Pierre responded, “I have enough for myself, but if I stop working I have not enough for others.”
Pierre originally was buried outside St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, where he was once refused entrance because of his race. His sanctity and the popular devotion to him caused his body to be moved to the present location of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.
Pierre Toussaint was declared Venerable in 1996.
Julia Greeley, Denver’s Angel of Charity, was born into slavery, at Hannibal, Missouri, sometime between 1833 and 1848. While she was still a young child, a cruel slavemaster, in the course of beating her mother, caught Julia’s right eye with his whip and destroyed it.
Freed by Missouri’s Emancipation Act in 1865, Julia subsequently earned her keep by serving white families in Missouri, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico—though mostly in the Denver area. Whatever she did not need for herself, Julia spent assisting poor families in her neighborhood. When her own 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.” To avoid embarrassing the people she helped, Julia did most of her charitable work under cover of night through dark alleys.
Julia entered the Catholic Church at Sacred Heart Parish in Denver in 1880, and was an outstanding supporter of all that the parish had to offer. The Jesuits who ran the parish considered her the most enthusiastic promoter of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus they had ever seen. Every month she visited on foot every fire station in Denver and delivered literature of the Sacred Heart League to the firemen, Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
A daily communicant, Julia had a rich devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin and continued her prayers while working and moving about. She joined the Secular Franciscan Order in 1901 and was active in it till her death in 1918.
As she lived in a boarding house, Julia’s body was laid out in church, and immediately many hundreds of people began filing pass her coffin to pay their grateful respect. She was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery (sect. 8, Block 7), and to the present day many people have been asking that her cause be considered for canonization, a request which was finally granted in the Fall of 2016.
As part of the Cause for Canonization, Julia’s mortal remain were transferred to Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 7, 2017.
Consecration means to set aside for a sacred purpose. Total Consecration to Jesus as set forth by St. Louis Marie de Montfort is a beautiful exercise to increase your spirituality and ability to truly serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Mary’s life was set aside for the sole purpose of serving our Lord. By following her example, we, too, can completely give ourselves to Christ in a fundamental way that consecrates us to Him. We give our lives to Him in service and love.
St. John the Baptist will have an information/preparation program to help prepare anyone who is interested in consecration to Jesus through Mary after Easter during May, the month of Mary.
On the church calendar Jan. 22 is a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children
From the time we are knit together in our mothers’ wombs until we take our final breaths, each moment of our lives is a gift from God. While every season of life brings its own challenges and trials, each season also gives us new opportunities to grow in our relationship with God.
“Hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm.” Hebrews 6:18-19
Today the gift of life is threatened in countless ways. Those who are most vulnerable, rather than receiving the protection they deserve, are all too often seen as a burden and as expendable. As new attacks on human life continue to emerge, we can be tempted to despair, but Christ instead offers us unfailing hope.Hope is not false optimism or empty positivity. Christian hope is something much more profound and goes to the very depths of our identity as followers of Christ.
Hope is the virtue “by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CCC, 1817).
Like us, Christ entered the world through the womb of a woman. He willingly experienced the fullness of human suffering. He breathed his last on the Cross at Calvary in order that He might save us. Therefore, “God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end” (Spe salvi 31).
Christians know “they have a future: it is not that they know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness” (SS 2).
For this reason, a woman experiencing a difficult pregnancy can find the strength to welcome her precious child into the world. A man facing a terminal diagnosis can see that the end of his earthly life is only the beginning of eternal life with Christ.
The Church teaches us that “the one who has hope lives differently” (SS 2). Christ’s promise of salvation does not mean that we will be spared from suffering. Rather, the promise of salvation ensures that even in the darkest moments of our lives, we will be given the strength to persevere. By virtue of this Christian hope, we can face any challenge or trial. When the seas of life swell and we are battered by the waves, hope allows us to remain anchored in the heart of God. May we hold fast to Christ our hope, from the beginning of life to its very end.
NABRE © 2010, CCD. Used with permission. Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition © 2000 LEV-USCCB. Used with permission. Excerpts from Spe salvi, © 2007, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2019, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C.
Bishop Larry Silva was pastor here at St. John the Baptist from 1991-1994. He currently serves as the bishop of Honolulu. He had a nice one minute Christmas greeting that played on Relevant Radio, our local Catholic radio station, 1260 am and 101.7 fm. Click below to listen to it.