November is National Black Catholic History Month

November is National Black Catholic History Month.  In 1990, the National Black Catholic (https://nbccc.cc/) identified the November to celebrate and the contributions Black Catholics have made to the Church.

According to the Catholic University of America (www.catholic.edu) November was selected for various reasons.

  • November 1st is All Saints Day. All Saints Day gives us a chance to reflect on the Saints of African descent in the first 300 years of the Church.
  • November 2nd is All Souls Day.  On All Souls Day we can remember Africans who suffered and died as a result of cruel treatment in the Middle Passage crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • On November rd. Marin de Porres became the first Black American saint. He was canonized by Pope John XXIII on 16 May 1962.  St. Martin e Porres exemplified God’s love for all people regardless of their level in society.
  • St. Augustine was born on 13 November in the year 354 AD.  He was the first Doctor of the Church from North Africa.
  • Zumbi of Palmares died on 20 November 1695.  He founded a free state for Blacks.

The history of Black Catholics is as old as the Church itself.  According to some sources, Mark the Evangelist founded the Church in Alexandria.  Many of the earliest Church Fathers also hailed from Africa. Black Catholics have played an important part in the history of the United States.  Free and enslaved Africans helped established the earliest colonies in Florida.  In 1781, a diverse group of settlers, including free Black men and women were invited to settle on the Porciuncula River. This settlement grew into the City of Los Angeles. Black Catholics have been leaders some of the most important issues in our history including abolition, civil rights and education.

Today, there are over three million Black Catholics in the United States with hundreds serving as priests, religious brothers and religious sisters. Religious orders like the Oblate Sisters of Providence established Catholic schools in Baltimore. The legacy of Black Catholics continues in the fight for social justice, equality and inclusion.