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Saint Louis University Celebrates Black Catholic History Month


November is Black Catholic History Month. To commemorate this, several SLU departments will host events throughout the month.

November was designated Black Catholic History Month in 1990 by the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States. The purpose is to celebrate the lives and contributions of Black Catholics in the Church’s history.

“For me, this is about elevating a tradition with deep and beautiful roots in the Church but which is often less well known by the broader American Catholic population — and one which also has a complicated legacy with the Church's historical engagements with race," said Patrick Cousins, Director of Pastoral Formation. 

The Keynote for Black Catholic History Month will be Dr. Alexia Williams from the University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign. Her talk will be at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9, in DuBourg 409.

The talk is titled “Envisioning Paradise: Canonizing African American Catholic Women at the Frontier.”  This lecture explores the life and legacy of Servant of God, Julia Greeley, a candidate for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

Williams is an Assistant Professor of Religion and African American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research explores entanglements between race and religion in North America, with a focus on Afro-diasporic religions and the Roman Catholic Church.  

Bookending this lecture, Fr. Jeffrey Harrison, S.J., will give a talk titled, “Mill Creek Valley: SLU and the Destruction of a Black Neighborhood.”  Harrison will discuss the history and legacy of slavery as it relates to St. Louis University.  This will be on Monday, Nov. 20, at 5 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of Spring Hall.

Harrison is a St. Louis native whose work has taken him to many corners of the world in a wide variety of roles. He is currently the project coordinator for the Slavery, History, Memory & Reconciliation project, which studies the history of Jesuit and Catholic slavery.

Throughout November, Pius Library will display an assortment of books pertaining to Black Catholic History and Theology.

A poster display of the “Saintly Six” will be along the West Pine Mall near Wuller Hall.  The “Saintly Six” refers to six African American Catholics in the process of receiving canonization.

The SLU community also has been invited to celebrate 10 a.m. Sunday Mass at St. Alphonsus Rock Church on Sunday, Nov. 5. Founded in 1867, St. Alphonsus Rock Church is located at 1118 N. Grand Blvd, just a few blocks north of SLU.

St. Francis Xavier College Church invites all to visit its Diverse Religious exhibit on Sunday, Nov.  12, after the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Masses. They will also debut a book, “Our Parish Racial History” on Nov. 19 after both Sunday Masses.

Departments also participating in BCHM events will be SLU’s Center for Research on Global Catholicism, SLU College of Arts and Sciences, SLU’s Department of Campus Ministry, SLU Division for Mission and Identity, the SLU Division of Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement, the SLU Department of Theological Studies.

For more information,  contact Michael Schreiner by email or phone at 977-3055. A full calendar of events can be found at the bottom of the Serve: Faith and Justice page.