St. Thomas Aquinas marked the start of Black Catholic History Month with a Mass Wednesday, Nov. 3, on the Feast Day of St. Martin de Porres. He is the patron of social justice, racial healing and understanding – causes long championed by the STA community.

The son of a Spanish father and a free Black mother, Martin also is honored by people of mixed ethnicities as their patron. For this year’s observance, the Archdiocesan Black Catholic Ministry office loaned STA an ornate banner and statue from Martin’s native Peru. The office also donated a set of portraits of the six African-Americans who are on the road to sainthood. Currently on display in the Narthex, the portraits will be hung in the school. Special thanks to Pearlette Springer, coordinator of the Black Catholic Ministry, who made the loan and donation possible.

All six candidates overcame racism and discrimination and lived out an authentic witness to their Catholic faith. Three have taken the first step toward sainthood by being declared a “servant of God” — which means the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has found enough evidence to open a case. The three others have reached the second step by being declared “venerable” — which means the pope has decided that the person has lived a life of “heroic virtue.”

The remaining steps — beatification and canonization — require proof of a miracle at each stage. More information and prayers to each of these candidates may be found by clicking on their names below.

Servant of God Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, born in 1937, she converted to Catholicism as a child, was an acclaimed evangelizer, teacher, writer and singer sharing the joy of the Gospel and her rich African-American cultural heritage throughout the country.

Servant of God Julia Greely, a former slave, she also converted to Catholicism and was known as the Angel of Charity in Denver.

Servant of God Mother Mary Lange, a native of the Caribbean born in 1784, she founded and led the first successful religious community for women of African descent.

Venerable Henriette Delille, born in 1812, she was a free woman of color from New Orleans whose order ministered to slaves at a time when educating slaves was illegal.

Venerable Augustus Tolten, a former slave born in 1854, he was the first recognized Black American priest when he was ordained in Rome in 1886.

Venerable Pierre Toussaint, born a slave in Haiti in 1776, he was brought to New York and became a freeman, successful businessman and philanthropist to the church, poor and orphans.