1st Order Of African American Nuns Prays Its Founder Will Be Made Saint

BALTIMORE (WJZ)— The remains of the Baltimore nun who started the world’s first black Catholic order have been returned to the nuns who carry on her work.

Alex DeMetrick reports it’s a step in the road to sainthood for Mother Mary Lange.

The Oblate Sisters of Providence welcomed the remains of Mother Mary Lange, a woman of African descent who started the church’s first black order in Baltimore in 1829. It wasn’t an easy task in what was then a slave state.

“She had many, many obstacles–among them racial prejudice and hatred–and her love overcame that in her life,” said Archbishop William Lori.

And the Archdiocese believes that love may help elevate her to Saint Mary Lange.

Research is moving that way at the Vatican and the next step is moving her remains from a Baltimore cemetery to a place where pilgrims can visit and pray.

“Oh, merciful God, bless this habit which we place upon the physical remains of your servant, Mary Lange,” Archbishop Lori said.

Lange’s order taught African-American children and cared for the needy.

“And knowing that at last the Diocese and the church is recognizing somebody who did a good job,” said Sister Reginald Gerdes, Oblate Sisters of Providence.

The remains were placed and sealed in an alcove of the church in hope of sainthood some day.

“She’s already a saint [to us]. That’s why we’re so happy today. Imagine having a saint here with us, huh?” said Sister Mary Alexis Fisher, Oblate Sisters of Providence.

Mother Mary Lange died in Baltimore in 1882. The school she started, Saint Francis Academy, still teaches African-American youth.

More from Alex DeMetrick
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