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Virtual prayer service tonight to promote Ven. Henriette DeLille, new Black saints petition

Louisiana's favorite Black nun is the subject of the latest event from Buffalo's Black Catholic ministry, and a petition to Rome including her cause is also on the docket.

The Diocese of Buffalo has joined in on the letter-writing campaign to the Pope in support of the six African Americans on the path to sainthood, BCM has learned.

A virtual prayer service scheduled for tonight at 7pm ET in honor of Venerable Henriette DeLille, is the latest in the diocese’s “Walking with the Saints” series, coincides with Black Catholic History Month, and will promote the campaign, which originated with Black parishes in Baltimore.

The event will be held on Zoom (details here) and there is no registration required.

Alongside DeLille, the event will also feature Black women speaking on “carrying the legacy of religious organizations”, according to Dr. Althea Porter, a member of the Buffalo Diocese’s African-American Commission, which is sponsoring the prayer service.

Two previous entries in the series, which predate the campaign, honored Servant of God Julia Greeley and Venerable Pierre Toussaint, respectively.

DeLille, whose cause was opened in 1988, founded in 1836 the second order of Black nuns in US history, the Sisters of the Holy Family. They continue to educate African Americans across the Gulf South.

St Ann Catholic Church, a Josephite parish in Baltimore, played host to a kick-off event for the petition on November 1st—All Saints Day—where Auxiliary Bishop Bruce Lewandoski, CSsR presided over Mass.

Therein, he pushed for increased devotion to the venerated Black Catholics, acknowledging the petition without directly endorsing it—much like Auxiliary Bishop John P. Dolan of San Diego during last week’s annual USCCB meeting, also in Baltimore.

As such, tonight’s event from New York will be the first involving the petition as well as an apparent stamp of approval from a diocesan office.

“It is with pleasure [that we] promote a virtual prayer service during Black Catholic History Month featuring a letter-writing campaign to the Pope for ‘the six’ on the road to sainthood,” read an email from Porter.

Since the launch of the letter-writing campaign, a number of Baltimore parishes have joined the original three, and St Ann parishioner Ralph Moore Jr., one of the organizers, says they have received letters from as far away as Canada.

An online petition has also been launched, and has several hundred signatures as of Monday afternoon.

Sign the Petition
Support The Canonization Of The Six African American Candidates for Sainthood!

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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