Celebrating Women Witnesses for Racial Justice-Prayers and Presentations


Renowned 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




Sunday, January 16, 2022 at 7pm EST
"Say Her Name" * Prayer Service Remembering Black Women Murdered at the Hands of Police in Honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Join FutureChurch as we remember the lives of Black women who have been murdered in our streets and in their homes.  While there is an appalling level of violence against women of color by police and others, these crimes are under-reported.  Together, we will remember their names, their stories, and their lives,  as we work together for racial and reparative justice.  

*"Say Her Name" is a campaign of the African American Policy Forum.  You can learn more here.



February 15, 2022 at 8:00pm EST
Presentation by Professor Diane Batts Morrow on "Black Catholic Women Religious:  Agency and Obstacles"

Professor Diane Batts Morrow will offer a presentation on the accomplishments and trials of Black Women Religious in honor of Black History Month.  She has written extensively about the Oblate Sister who challenged prevailing social, political, and cultural attitudes on many levels. While white society viewed women of color as lacking in moral standing, their standing as religious -- their vows of celibacy as an alternative to the skewed and corrupted views of black women's sexuality; their communal sense of spritual fervor;  and their hard won agency and power proved both liberating and empowering.  The Oblate sisters defied the inferior social status white society ascribed to them and the antagonism of the Catholic Church toward their emerging community. They successfully persevered in dedicating themselves to spiritual practice in the Roman Catholic tradition and their mission to educate black children during the era of slavery.

Join us for this informative and liberating presentation.   

Biography:  Diane Batts Morrow is Associate Professor Emerita of History and African American Studies at the University of Georgia. She taught courses which focused on the African American experience in United States history. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore College with a B. A. in History, earned her M.S. in Social Science Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and her Ph.D. in History from the University of Georgia. Her first book, Persons of Color and Religious at the Same Time: The Oblate Sisters of Providence, 1828-1860, which the University of North Carolina Press published in 2002, won that year’s Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize from the Association of Black Women Historians. In 2004 the Conference on the History of Women Religious honored this work with its Distinguished Book Award. Morrow is currently working on a second volume which continues the story of this first Roman Catholic black sisterhood—which celebrated its 190th anniversary in 2019—into the middle of the twentieth century.


Past Presentations and Prayer Services

November 30, 2021 at 8pm EST
The History of the National Black Sisters Conference by Sr. Anita Baird, DHM



August 15, 2021 at 7pm ET - Celebrating the Feast of the Assumption 



Thursday, June 17th, 2021 at 7pm ET - Shedding White Fragility with Mr. Andrew Lyke



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



April 6, 2021 - Olga Marina Segura on "Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church"



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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