A Diversity of Saints

Julia Greeley - public domain via Wikimedia
Servant of God Julia Greeley, public domain image via Wikimedia Commons

When I was in parish ministry, our faith community was gradually becoming more ethnically diverse. When a nearby parish was closed and merged into our parish, a small but vibrant community of Black Catholics added to the richness of our diversity. While making plans to welcome our new parish members, I realized that not one of the images of saints in our church and parish center were people of color! For All Saints Day that year, our parish purchased and blessed six icons of saints of color that were processed into the church and placed in prominent locations to reflect the diversity of our community.

With All Saints Day quickly coming upon us, I recommend focusing attention on the diversity of saints that our church celebrates. In particular, presently six Black Catholics are on the road to sainthood: Venerable Pierre ToussaintVenerable Henriette Delille, Venerable Augustus Tolton, Servant of God Mary Lange, Servant of God Julia Greeley, and Servant of God Thea Bowman.

I had the privilege of hearing Sr. Thea Bowman speak in the mid-1980s at an event in Chicago called “Jesus Day,” and I remember her proclaiming, “They’re calling today Jesus Day? Every day is Jesus Day!” My friend Michael Howard (Eat the Scrolls Ministry) tells of his experience of witnessing Sr. Thea “dancing and joyfully expressing her love for God at a National Black Catholic Congress in Washington, D.C.” and how that experience freed him to express his love for God as if “the shackles were removed from my feet to dance spontaneously.” Read more of Michael’s personal reflections on Servant of God Thea Bowman here.

Take advantage of this moment in Church history, when such a significant number of Black Catholics are on the road to sainthood, to share their stories as well as the stories of many other saints who exemplify the diversity of our Church. Here are some examples to assist you:

Be sure to check out the many resources Loyola Press offers for All Saints Day! And come back tomorrow for an activities pack about the Black Catholics on the road to sainthood.

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. What a blessing for you that you were able to hear this future saint Sr. Thea in person! And thanks to you and Loyola Press for highlighting our diversity of saints.

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