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The Church in the United States is greatly blessed by the contributions of Black Catholics and the legacy of holiness of so many men and women of color. These men and women lived lives that are worthy of our study and emulation.
In Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood, Michael R. Heinlein provides the first book to explore the lives of the six Black Catholics from the United States whose causes are under formal consideration by the Catholic Church for canonization. Including biographies and personal reflections from diverse contributors, this book shows how these six men and women provide a model of holiness for all Catholics and people of good will. Venerable Pierre Toussaint, Venerable Henriette Delille, Venerable Father Augustus Tolton, Servant of God Mother Mary Lange, Servant of God Julia Greeley, and Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman are sources of inspiration for us all.
As we continue to pray for the advancement of their causes for canonization, all Catholics of every race can learn a great deal from these holy men and women. By their stories of faith and virtue, they show us how to respond to the call to holiness, bringing healing, reconciliation, and peace to our wounded nation and world.
“It is my profound honor to add my voice in support of Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood. This book gives an insightful look at the Black Americans that are on the path to canonized sainthood in the Catholic Church. The book introduces readers to six Black Americans who dealt in their lifetimes with the human denigration and suffering that is manifested by America’s Original Sin of racism. Yet they not only persevered, but truly lived as Christian people, which so many Americans claim to be, but whose actions do not support that claim. These Black Americans sought to show love, compassion, and forgiveness to all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or station in life. All of the men and women you will meet in Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood — through their faith in God and by giving of themselves to God’s people, their sisters and brothers — did what Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman said: ‘we must return love, no matter what.’ These men and women show us the way forward.”
Most Reverend Roy E. Campbell, Jr.,
Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, President of the National Black Catholic Congress
“Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood is an inspiring look at six holy Black men and women who mirrored Christ in service to others. All of them persevered, despite the many rejections they encountered, giving Black Catholics today the inspiration to meet the obstacles of racial inequity with equal grace and love, and providing insight to all Catholics, regardless of race, into the effects of systemic racism and the many gifts and talents people of color bring to the Church. The accompanying reflections, written by Catholic laity and religious, provide deeper insight into the lives of the six candidates for Canonization, and how best we can learn from them and emulate their examples in our own lives.”
The National Black Catholic Congress
“Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood is a great expose on the lives and faith of some of our Black ancestors who responded with both prayer and action to overcome racism. Discovering through this book their life stories, their suffering, and their faith-filled response, one is inspired to seek the conversion of hearts with regard to racism through prayer and action so that we too can aspire to be saints by the manner in which we love one another.”
Most Reverend Shelton J. Fabre,
Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism
“Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood provides a glimpse into the power of God’s grace at work in the lives of men and women who were often treated with disdain. The Archdiocese of Denver has been blessed by the heroic, charitable witness of Julia Greeley on our streets, in our churches, and in our homes. This book extends that blessing to all who are seeking additional examples of courage, perseverance, and determination. As our country and Church work to address racism, may we turn to these holy men and women for their example and intercession.”
Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila,
Archbishop of Denver
“Michael Heinlein performs a great service in bringing together engaging reflections on and portraits of Black Catholics who are on the road to sainthood. Their stories differ but they have at least one thing in common: They rose above the racism of their day to the heights of holiness. From their place in eternity, they challenge us to root out racism from our midst. This volume should prompt us to pray and work for the canonization of these worthy witnesses to the Lord’s truth and love.”
Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archdiocese of Baltimore
“The last three Bishops of Rome have called Christ’s Church to a New Evangelization, a renewal of the mandate given at Pentecost: to carry on the mission of the Redeemer. Heinlein’s book offers us a glimpse of a central theme of our renewal — personal witness, the heart of it seen in the cloud of witness of these holy ones. These men and women of color lived their faith life and became living gospels of the Gift: the Passion of the Cross, seen in the evil of racism; the Liberation of the Resurrection, recognized in the courage of the prophets; and the songs of the Kingdom, heard and shared in the joy of the Spirit. They call us to witness.”
Most Reverend David P. Talley,
Bishop of Memphis
“‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’ was Nathaniel’s response in John’s gospel to Philip’s invitation to meet Jesus. Philip’s words in reply echo down the centuries: ‘Come and see’ (John 1:45–46). Within this book is a cohort of six awe-inspiring disciples who encountered the Lord and proved that, when grasped by Jesus Christ, God can raise up goodness from anywhere. As former slaves and descendants of chattel slavery, they bore fruit a hundred-fold in their time and place and bequeathed to the Church a lasting legacy. I invite all who yearn for racial justice and peace to come and see in this book six black women and men who show us the path to life in this world as they continue on the road to sainthood.”
Most Reverend Joseph Kopacz,
Bishop of Jackson
“Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood gives us an opportunity to become better acquainted with six black women and men from the United States and to be inspired by their lives of faith. As we strive for holiness, we are given the privilege to learn more about their journey to canonization and to participate in their process.”
Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond,
Archbishop of New Orleans
“Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood is essential reading for all Catholics, particularly at this time in our country’s history. There is a common thread in the stories of these six holy men and women: a strong faith, love for others, and personal sacrifice. I appreciate OSV raising awareness of the lives of these candidates for sainthood. It is my hope that reading about their lives and struggles will inspire not just devotion but others to follow in their footsteps. The world desperately needs models of holiness and virtue like the ones contained in this short volume. May their testimony of faith help us bring healing and reconciliation to a divided world and inspire us to respond to our own call to holiness.”
Most Reverend Nelson J. Pérez,
Archbishop of Philadelphia, chairman USCCB Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church