November is Black Catholic History Month
Written by Carol F. White, Black Catholic Apostolate Archdiocesan Liason
The National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States designated November as Black Catholic History Month to celebrate the long history and proud heritage of Black Catholics during a meeting at Fordham University in New York in 1990. The African American Catholic experience is a story of faith, struggle and endurance. There are three million African-American Catholics in the United States; there are 798 predominately African-American parishes in the United States.
Black Catholic history began in the Acts of the Apostles with the conversion of the thiopian eunuch by Philip the Deacon. If you visit Holy Redeemer Catholic Church you can see this baptism depicted in the bottom of its baptismal pool. It is a beautiful sight to see and a teaching moment for children.
What do you know about Black Catholic History in the Archdiocese of San Antonio?
Holy Redeemer Catholic Church: Holy Redeemer, founded in 1901, is the only African-American parish in the archdiocese. Located on the east side of San Antonio, it has served as a beacon of hope for African-American Catholics throughout the archdiocese. The rich heritage and deep roots of faith continue to thrive and flourish at Holy Redeemer through its vibrant faith life, spirit-filled liturgies, and a deep sense of community and hospitality. Come and share our rich history as we continue to build for the future as we grow and to build up the Kingdom at Holy Redeemer at 1819 Nevada St. Mass schedule is 4 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. All are welcome.
St. Peter Claver Church
The history of Holy Redeemer could not be complete without first identifying the oldest church for Negroes in the archdiocese; St. Peter Claver Church (1888-1968). Father Richard Maloney, OMI, then pastor of St. Mary’s Church downtown, was determined that the Negro Catholics of San Antonio should have something more than a few seats, which were reserved for them in the rear of St. Mary’s. After a visit from Mrs. Margaret Murphy, who was willing to donate money to purchase land and herself promote the cause of evangelization of the Negro race, the work began n the church building despite much opposition from the white neighbors. Margaret Healy Murphy founded the congregation now known as the Holy Spirit Sisters.
St. Catherine’s Mission
There was need for a small church at the west end of St. Peter Claver Parish. St. Catherine Mission on Leal Street was opened on Sept. 8, 1914. St. Catherine’s remained a mission of St. Peter Claver until it was made a separate parish in 1942. St. Catherine’s was suppressed in 1957.
Suggested reading: The History of Black Catholics in the United States by Father Cyprian Davis