BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The country’s oldest black Catholic school can be found in Baltimore.
Since 1828, Saint Frances Academy has made it’s mission to educate people of color.
At the Convent of Our Lady of Mount Providence, a lesson greets you as soon as you walk through the doors.
Home to the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the history of their mark on Baltimore is etched on every window.
“In 1828, a young woman by the name of Elizabeth Lange came to Baltimore from Cuba and saw the plight of children of color not having any school to attend,” said Sister Trinita Baeza of the Oblate Sisters of Providence. “She started a small school in the basement of her home.”
The mission of education became the goal of Mother Mary Lange, because it was illegal to educate children of color.
Nearly 200 years later, the vision of her humble beginnings still stands today at Saint Frances Academy.
What started out as an all-girls school, then co-ed and now nearly all-boys, is the oldest black Catholic school in all of America.
“Truly you can say that Saint Frances Academy is an oasis in the desert of poverty and need,” Sister Baeza said. “If Saint Frances Academy weren’t there, that would be a terrible area.”
The sisters say the school represents a beacon of hope and promise to the hundreds of kids who attend. The sisters still continue their goal of educating, but outside the classroom with charity work, missions, tutoring and child development.
“I think in that sense we are continuing Mother Lange’s legacy,” said Sister Marcia Hall of the Oblate Sisters of Providence.
But there’s a new goal: to make sure legacy continues into a new generation.
“It’s at the point where we’re trying to see what do we have to do to make ourselves more appealing to young women of today,” Sister Baeza said.
The sisters say the Catholic church is now looking into Mother Mary Lange’s history for possible sainthood.