Celebrating Women Witnesses for Racial Justice-Prayers and Presentations


Historian, Dr. Shannen Dee Williams writes that long before there were black priests in the United States, there were black Catholic sisters. Since 1824, hundreds of black women and girls have professed the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the U.S. Catholic Church. By consecrating themselves to God and dedicating their lives to education and social justice black sisters renounced an outside world that deemed all black people inferior and immoral and provided a powerful refutation to the insidious racial and sexual stereotypes used by white supremacists to justify African-American exclusion from U.S. citizenship rights and the ranks of
religious life in the Church.

The historical record reveals that Black sisters and their schools were frequent targets of white supremacists who viewed these women and their institutions as threats to the racial and sexual status quo. Yet, at the root of the extraordinary journey of the nation’s Black Catholic sisters is a fundamental understanding that racism and exclusion have no place within the Catholic church.  Black women of God believed wholeheartedly in Catholic social teaching and its embrace of universal humanity. Black nuns pushed the church to be truly Catholic and to do what it said it did for all people.   DOWNLOAD EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES HERE


Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 7pm ET -Women Witnesses for Racial Justice Mother's Day Prayer Service Celebrating Anna "Madre" Bates

Anna "Madre" Bates led a revolution of love in Detroit.  In spite of racial segregation in Catholic Churches, and racist obstacles placed by those in authority to her mission of serving Black Catholics, she founded a mission and a parish, Our Lady of Victory.  During this prayer service you will hear the witness of Black Catholic Women as they share the story of Anna "Madre" Bates and their own stories of facing racist obstacles as we pray, sing, and work together for racial and reparative justice in the Church and in the world.  



June 17, 2021 at 7pm ET - Shedding White Fragility and Working for Racial Justice

With Andrew Lyke

Andrew Lyke encourages white Catholics to leave white fragility behind and enter into "brave spaces" where the devastating effects of white supremacy on people of color can be confronted as people of faith.   

While encouraged by the solidarity and activism of growing numbers of white people today, he is also exhausted by the paucity and tepidity of white Catholic leadership in the ongoing cause for freedom for people of color in this country.  He notes that in the pastoral letter “Open Wide Our Hearts,” issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2018, there no direct references to white privilege and white supremacist ideology. It defines racism in general terms and there is little consideration given to racism’s purpose, its beneficiaries and its targeted casualties.

Lyke believes that the cruel, brutal, immoral and monstrous havoc caused by white supremacist ideology needs to be presented with full intensity, without pulling punches.  What white people and particularly white Catholics need in order to address the “original sin” of our nation is not “safe space” like that which we tried to provide them, but “brave space.”  In addressing the exhaustion of black people when dealing with white fragility - Lyke has found this defensive posture to be an inevitable speed bump, if not an obstruction to addressing the sin of racism in the church. White fragility tends to control the agenda and frame the narrative to meet white sensibilities.

Andrew Lyke has found that a commitment to entering into "brave space" gives the process room for error and grace for forgiveness. It demands patience and self-examination. It calls forth the power of human empathy that bonds people of good will.  He believes that Catholic anti-racism activisim, like the Gospel, should be disturbing to all Christians - unsettling white Catholics out of their “colorblindness” and restoring the historical memory that has been lost. He notes that feelings of guilt, shame and bewilderment may be appropriate and need not be avoided. These feelings are important steps away from denial, a distancing from untruth that is necessary to awaken white people from generations of moral slumber and cultural delusion.

Finally, Mr. Lyke tells us that being anti-racist does not require a bullhorn, microphone or podium. It means being an ally in the struggle for equal justice and an agent of racial healing. The first step is being an interrupter. Whether it is in the workplace, the grocery store or the family dinner table, when white supremacist thoughts are expressed, interrupt them, challenge them.  (America Magazine:  https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/11/30/white-fragility-catholics-anti-racism-racial-justice-239097)


Andrew Lyke is a Catholic ministry consultant, freelance writer, blogger and author, former campus minister, pioneer of Catholic Marriage & Family Ministry, Anti-racism Activist, Poet, Storyteller, husband, father, and grandfather. Over the past 40+ years, he has focused on Catholic Marriage & Family Ministry. He and Terri, his wife of 45 years, were part of a team of couples and priests who designed and presented PreCana for the Black Community in 1981. It was the first diocesan Catholic marriage preparation program by and for Black people. Andrew was hired by the Archdiocese to coordinate the marriage preparation and enrichment programs of the Archdiocese. He served in that role from 1999 to 2009 when he resigned to fully invest in Arusi Network, a not-for-profit he and Terri started for their ministry to marriage. He was rehired in 2011 as the Director of the Office for Black Catholics.

Prior to his tenure in the Archdiocese of Chicago, he was a campus minister at DePaul University from 1996 to 1999. While at DePaul, he was part of a team of campus ministers who were trained in the “Recovery from Racisms” curriculum. The team facilitated focal support groups with DePaul students, faculty, and staff.

In 2001, after the publication of Cardinal George’s Dwell In My Love: A Pastoral Letter on Racism, Andrew was a founding member of the Archdiocesan Anti-Racism Task Force through the Office for Racial Justice (ORJ). He served as a trainer, consultant, and program designer until 2014 when the ORJ was eliminated. Since then, he as served as a consultant, trainer, and motivational speaker on Catholic Anti-Racism, primarily in the Diocese of Joliet.

Andrew authored “Forging a Commitment to Love All: Creating an Anti-Racist Church,” published in the February 2011 issue of Liguorian Magazine. More recently in November of 2020, America Magazine published online an article by Andrew titled, “Dear White Catholics: It’s time to be anti-racist and leave white fragility behind.”

Andrew and Terri served as consultants to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Marriage and Family. They are the authors of several articles on Catholic marriage and family life for local and national periodicals. Their critically acclaimed book, Marriage On A Lampstand: Exploring a New Paradigm for Modern Christian Marriage, was “Book of the Month” on the USCCB marriage support website ForYourMarriage.org for March 2017. They are the parents of two married young adults and the grandparents of 4 girls and two boys ranging from 11 to 3 years old.


Past Presentations and Prayer Services

April 6, 2021 - Olga Marina Segura on "Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church"
For many Catholics, especially white Catholics, racism is a disconcerting, but distant problem that does not affect their lives. Most do not know that Catholic Social Teaching addresses our responsibility to address the harm and violence racism and white supremacy engenders.  Join Olga Marina Segura as she speaks about the Church's radical call to dignity and equality for all people. She will offer insights into the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement, the church’s involvement with slavery, and the Catholic Church’s response to the recent deaths of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor.  In relating the story of the Black Lives Matter movement through a Christian lens, readers—Catholic and others—will gain insights and a deeper understanding of the movement and why it can help the church, and the country, move closer to racial equality.

Olga Marina Segura is a freelance writer and the opinion editor at National Catholic Reporter. She is the author of Birth of A Movement: Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church, which will be published on February 17, 2021. You can pre-order here.  Previously, she was an associate editor at America Media, where she wrote and solicited articles on race and culture. She is a co-founder and former co-host of the podcast, “Jesuitical.” Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, Latino Rebels, Shondaland, Sojourners, Refinery29, and The Revealer. Prior to working at America Media, Olga was an intern at the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations. She graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in Italian Language and Literature. She speaks Italian and Spanish fluently and was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.



April 2, 2021 at 12noon - Good Friday Stations of the Cross with FutureChurch Staff
On Good Friday, we heard and reflected on the stories of courageous Black Catholic Women who relied on their faith and dedicated themselves to living and sharing it despite bearing the unjust crosses of racism, slavery, poverty, segregation, sexism, and exclusion.  As white Catholics we acknowledged -- before God and before one another -- that we, as individuals and as a community of believers -- have failed to live the Gospel values of freedom, equality, solidarity, and inclusion.

March 9, 2021 at 7pm EST - Presentation by Dr. Shannen Dee Williams on "Leading Lights: Black Catholic Women Yesterday and Today."
The video from Dr. Shannen Dee Williams' presentation will be available for viewing once her new book is released for pre-order.   In the meantime, we invite you to read the following work:  

Subversive Images and Forgotten Truths: A Selected Visual History of Black Women Religious” in American Catholic Studies, 127 (Fall 2016):  14-21.

"Forgotten Habits, Lost Vocations: Black Nuns, Contested Memories, and the 19th Century Struggle to Desegregate U.S. Catholic Religious Life" in The Journal of African American History, Vol. 101, No. 3, Summer 2016.   https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5323/jafriamerhist.101.3.0231

“Dear U.S. Catholic Theologians: Lives of Black Women & Girls Always Matter”.  The Font:  Where Many Catholics Dip, December 12, 2014.

“Sister Antona Ebo’s lifelong struggle against white supremacy, inside and outside the Catholic Church”  America.  November 22, 2017.

“Religious orders owning slaves isn’t new—black Catholics have emphasized this history for years”.  America.  August 6, 2019. 

“The black Catholic nun every American should know”.  America, March 3, 2020.

“What a forgotten black nun can teach us about racism and Covid-19”, America, April 23, 2020.

“If racial justice and peace will ever be attained, it must begin in the church”Catholic News Service via The Dialog, June 10, 2020.

The church must make reparation for its role in slavery, segregation” , National Catholic Reporter, June 15, 2020.   

"Black Catholic women like Amanda Gorman are forgotten prophets of American democracy," The Washington Post, February 10, 2021.

For more resources, go to Dr. Tia Noelle Pratt's #BlackCatholics Syllabus.


February 25, 2021 at 7:00pm EST - Pray the Black Catholic History Rosary with Ms. Leslye Colvin, Ms. Vicki McBride, and Russ Petrus as musician 
In 2014, Dr. Kirk Gaddy (now deceased) created the Black Catholic History Rosary with Joyful, Luminous and Sorrowful Mysteries for Catholics to use in prayer.  On Feb. 25, we prayeed the Joyful and the Luminous Mysteries with Ms. Leslye Colvin, Ms. Vicki McBridge, and Russ Petrus as musician. Together we prayed and learned more about the hope-filled history that  Black Catholics have carved out for the Church with the hope that we can all live the Gospel more authentically.   No recording is available, but please join us next time.

February 18, 2021 at 7pm EST - Presentation by Artist Chloe Becker who created the art for FutureChurch's Women Witnesses for Racial Justice Series



January 17, 2021 at 7pm EST - Prayer Service Inspired by Sr. Thea Bowman



November 29, 2020 at 7pm EST - Advent Prayer Service Inspired by Mother Mary Lange



November 1, 2020 at 7pm EST: - All Saints Day Prayer Service Inspired by Sr. Antona Ebo



February 18, 2021 at 7pm EST - Presentation by Artist Chloe Becker who created the Women Witnesses for Racial Justice Art

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