The Church has designated November as Black Catholic History Month since 1990 when the National Black Clergy Caucus of the United States instigated it. November seemed appropriate because it holds special days for two prominent African Catholics: St. Augustine, whose birthday is Nov. 13, and St Martin de Porres, whose feast day is celebrated on November 3. St. Ignatius of Loyola recognized St. Martin de Porres on the First Sunday of the Month.
St. Monica is best known as the mother of St. Augustine. She was known for her outstanding Christian virtues, particularly the suffering caused by her husband’s adultery, and her prayerful life dedicated to the reformation of her son, who wrote extensively of her pious acts and life with her in his Confessions.
Did you know?
There are five African American Catholics who are being proposed for Sainthood. They are Pierre Toussaint (New York), Henriette DeLille (New Orleans), Mary Elizabeth Lange (Baltimore), Augustin Tolton (Chicago), and Julia Greeley (Denver).
Other fun facts…
There have been 3 African Popes in the Catholic Church:
- Pope Gelasius l, who was Pope from 1 March 492 to his death in 496.
- Pope Miltiades, who was Pope of the Catholic Church from 311 to his death in 314.
- Pope Victor I was the first Bishop of Rome born in the Roman Province of Africa. The dates of his tenure are uncertain. However, one source states he became Pope in 189 and died in 199.
Number of African American Catholics
There are 3 million African American Catholics in the United States. Of Roman Catholic parishes in the United States, 798 are predominantly African American. Most of those continue to be on the East Coast and in the South. Further west of the Mississippi River, African American Catholics are more likely to be immersed in multicultural parishes as opposed to predominantly African American parishes.
- About 76% of African American Catholics are in diverse or shared parishes and 24% are in predominately African American parishes.
- At present there are 15 living African American bishops, of whom 8 remain active.
- Currently, six U.S. dioceses are headed by African American bishops, including one archdiocese.
- There are 250 African American priests, 437 deacons, and 75 men of African descent in seminary formation for the priesthood in the United States.
- There are 400 African American religious sisters and 50 religious brothers.
- The Black population in the United States is estimated to be just over 36 million people (13% of the total U.S. population).
By the year 2050, the Black population is expected to almost double its present size to 62 million.