Some fun facts about Black Catholic History Month

Denver Catholic Staff

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.

COMING UP: St. Isidore Online Curriculum expands, will be offered again for 2021-2022 school year

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The Archdiocese of Denver’s online Catholic curriculum, St. Isidore, has been a true blessing to many families with children in grades K-8 who wanted a strong Catholic curriculum this past year but didn’t feel comfortable with their students attending school in person because of the pandemic. This included families like the Buckmeisters and Janisses. 

“St. Isidore has been an incredible blessing for our family this past school year. Not only are the teachers and administrators knowledgeable and accessible but engaging and exceptional in fostering the love of the Catholic faith for our son. Moreover, the online curriculum at SICC was wonderful as it was adaptable for our son who needs to be challenged above his grade level in certain academic areas,” said Kristen Buckmeister, parent of a St. Isidore student. 

“Our girls have benefitted immensely from the SICC curriculum and instruction. They enjoyed the guided learning through creative and engaging subject presentations followed by assignments they worked on their own,” said parent Lisa Janisse. “They felt very connected to their teachers. The religion teacher asked for daily intentions and that made the class very personal. Our children were able to share their concerns and pray for the intentions of other classmates as well. The girls were greatly assisted through two or three live tutorial sessions per day. They would start with prayer and pick up right where the teachers left off. The tutors were very patient and facilitated the group dynamics, so everyone had an opportunity to speak up and learn.” 

This past year, the program was only offered to families like the Buckmeisters and Janisses who were already enrolled in one of our Catholic schools. The students were learning through St. Isidore, but also remained connected to their local school.  However, this year, because of the increasing interest in a strong Catholic online curriculum program, the program is expanding to any interested family, regardless of enrollment in one of our schools. They don’t even have to live in Colorado to participate.  

“Every family has such unique dynamics, and what we learned this year with our virtual program is that Catholic virtual education is a gift of assistance to parents desiring a Catholic virtual option. We’ve learned this year that we can indeed educate well in a virtual setting, and we want to offer that to anyone in our archdiocese, or outside of our archdiocese, who desires an excellent Catholic virtual option for their children,” says Abriana Chilelli, Associate Superintendent of Academic Renewal.    

For those not familiar with St. Isidore and its strength as an online curriculum option, Kristen Lanier, assistant organizational leader at St. Isidore, has helped start online schools in public school districts and has been extremely impressed with what St. Isidore offers. 

“I have been blessed to help in the conception and implementation of several remote schooling models and St. Isidore is truly unique,” Lanier said. “St. Isidore’s approach to remote learning blends the very best strategies in virtual education and brick-and-mortar classrooms, all while honoring the gifts endowed to each student, family, and staff member. Students receive a program filled with both flexibility and rigor that provides access to teachers via catered, program-specific lessons, real-time small group guided instruction, and daily meaningful interaction with peers. Mission truly drives this work and it is a gift to watch what the Holy Spirit inspires in our team, students, and families.”

As long as parents still desire an online Catholic curriculum for their students, the Office of Catholic schools wants to help provide it.

“For a lot of parents, this past year has caused them to now see some real advantages of having their children at home learning virtually,” Chilelli concluded. “We’ve heard from lots of parents who want to continue with their children learning at home. We realized the archdiocese could help. We always want to support parents in the formation of their children as they grow in wisdom and friendship with the Lord.”

For more information, visit denvercatholicschools.com/st-isidore-apply today.

St. Isidore is available to:  

Any family enrolled in an Archdiocese of Denver participating Catholic school who may not want to send their children to in-school learning this upcoming school year due to the ongoing social distancing, masking requirements that will be in place because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as potential virus variants. This program is intended to be a support for local schools and enable those families to remain enrolled at their current school during the pandemic, but receive all curriculum and instruction digitally.  

Any family not enrolled in an Archdiocese of Denver Catholic school who wishes to have the support of the Archdiocese of Denver in educating their children virtually. 

Enrollment deadline is May 23, 2021 at 10 p.m. If you are interested in registering and or want to learn more, please email Sarah.Heaton@stisidoreonline.org