Meet Six on the Path to Sainthood

Learn about the Black Catholics under consideration for sainthood.

  • Visit the websites listed in the accompanying profiles. Educate yourself about the lives of these holy men and women, and then share their stories with your family and friends.
  • Start groups in your parishes, schools and organizations to increase awareness of their canonization.
  • Pray for their canonization.
  • Seek the intercession of these holy men and women and report answered prayers to the guilds that are working on the canonization causes.

Henriette Delille

CNS photo/ courtesy Sisters of the Holy Family

Sister Henriette Delille was born in 1812 in New Orleans as a free woman of color. When she was 24, she experienced a religious awakening, declaring her newfound fervor by writing in French on a page of a book on the Eucharist: “I believe in God. I hope in God. I love. I want to live and die for God.”

Sister Henriette founded the Sisters of the Holy Family in 1842 in New Orleans after previously establishing a confraternity of women. Sister Henriette’s Sisters of the Holy Family cared for the poor, the abandoned and the elderly and are still active today.

After her death in 1862, one obituary noted that she “devoted herself untiringly for many years, without reserve, to the religious instruction of the people of New Orleans, principally of slaves.”

Sister Henriette was declared venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

Learn more at

Pierre Toussaint

CNS photo/courtesy Christina Miller

Pierre Toussaint was born in 1766 in Haiti as a slave. He travelled to New York in his 20s, where he worked as a well-regarded hairdresser and eventually became a freeman. A man of considerable wealth, Toussaint was a generous donor to a variety of causes. He helped raise funds to build the original St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Vincent de Paul church. He and his wife also took in orphans and cared for people suffering from yellow fever. Toussaint was also known for his support of St. Patrick’s Orphan Asylum and for giving financial support to the Baltimore-based Oblate Sisters of Providence who ministered to the Black community.

Toussaint died in 1853 in New York. He was declared venerable by St. John Paul II in 1997.

Learn more at

Father Augustus Tolton

Photo/courtesy of Archdiocese of Chicago Archives and Records Center

Venerable Father Augustus Tolton was born a slave in 1854 in Missouri. His father escaped to the North at the start of the Civil War, joined the Union Army and was killed during the war. His mother eventually settled with her children in Quincy, Illinois, and Tolton was educated privately by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Devoted to his faith, Tolton prepared for the priesthood in Rome and was ordained on April 24, 1886, in the Eternal City. He was the first recognized African American ordained to the priesthood. (Josephite Father Charles Uncles later became the first African American ordained on U.S. soil when he was ordained in Baltimore in 1891.)

Father Tolton ministered as a parish priest in Illinois, first at St. Joseph church in Quincy and then at what would become St. Monica church with an outreach to Black Catholics in Chicago. He addressed the First Catholic Colored Congress in Washington, D.C. in 1889.

Father Tolton died at Mercy Hospital in Chicago in 1897. Pope Francis declared him venerable in 2019.

Learn more at

Servant of God
Mother Mary Lange, OSP

CNS photo/courtesy of the Catholic Review

Mother Mary Lange was born Elizabeth Clarisse Lange in the 1790s in Cuba, where she lived in a French-speaking community. She left Cuba in the early 1800s and settled in Baltimore, where she opened a school for Black children in her home.

In 1828, Mother Lange founded St. Frances Academy – the first Catholic school to educate African Americans – in Baltimore. A year later, Mother Lange founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first religious community for African-American women. She was superior general from 1829 to 1832, and again from 1835 to 1841. She also helped to nurse the sick during a Baltimore cholera epidemic in the early 1830s and in the mid-1840s.

The Oblate Sisters of Providence served as teachers and ministered in African-American parishes and remain active today.

Mother Lange died on Feb. 3, 1882.

 Learn more at

Servant of God
Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA

CNS photo/Beatrice Njemanze, Mississippi Catholic

Sister Thea Bowman, the first African-American member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, was born Bertha Elizabeth Bowman in 1937 in Mississippi, and converted to Catholicism as a child.

When she joined the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, she was given the religious name “Sister Mary Thea” in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her father, Theon.

In her ministry, she taught at all grade levels, earned a doctorate and became a college professor of English and linguistics. A natural storyteller and gifted singer, Sister Thea encouraged church leaders to celebrate Black cultural and spiritual traditions and she strongly encouraged leaders to make sure African Americans participate in decision-making in the church.

Sister Thea was the director of the Office of Intercultural Affairs for the Diocese of Jackson and a founding faculty member of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans. 

After a battle with cancer, Sister Thea died in 1990.

Learn more at

Servant of God
Julia Greeley

CNS photo/iconographer Vivian Imbruglia, courtesy Archdiocese of Denver

Julia Greeley was born into slavery in Missouri in the 1830s or 1840s. As a child, she suffered severe damage to one of her eyes when a slave master’s whip struck her while he was beating her mother.

Eventually becoming a free woman, Greeley entered the Catholic Church in 1880, joining Sacred Heart parish in Denver. Known as the city’s “Angel of Mercy,” Julia regularly distributed aid to the poor of the city. She was especially devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, visiting every fire station in Denver once a month to distribute information on the Sacred Heart League. She was a daily communicant and was active as a Secular Franciscan until her death in 1918.

For more information, visit

Pray with the Candidates

Mother Mary Lange

Almighty and Eternal God, You granted Mother Mary Lange extraordinary trust in Your providence. You endowed her with humility, courage, holiness and an extraordinary sense of service to the poor and sick. You enabled her to found the Oblate Sisters of Providence and provided educational, social and spiritual ministry especially to the African American community. Mother Lange’s love for all enabled her to see Christ in each person, and the pain of prejudice and racial hatred never blurred that vision.

Deign to raise her to the highest honors of the altar in order that, through her intercession, more souls may come to a deeper understanding and more fervent love of You. 

Heavenly Father, glorify Your heart by granting also this favor [state your request] which we ask through the intercession of Your faithful servant, Mother Mary Lange. Amen.

C 2020. Oblate Sisters of Providence. 




Mother Henriette Delille

O good and gracious God, You called Henriette Delille to give herself in service and in love to the slaves nd the sick, to the orphan and the aged, to the forgotten and the despised.

Grant that inspired by her life, we might be renewed in heard and in mind. If it be Your will may she one day be raised ot the honor of sainthood. By her prayers, may we live in harmony and peace, though Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

C: 2020, Sisters of the Holy family.


Julia Greeley

Heavenly  Father, your servant Julia Greeley dedicated her life to honirg the Sacred Heart of our Son and to the humble service of the poor. Grant to me a generous heart like your Son’s, and if it be in accordance with your holy will, please grant this favor I ask now thought Julia’s intercession [insert intention]…I pray this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

C: 2020, Archdiocese of Denver.


Father Augustus Tolton

O God, we give you thanks for your servant and priest, Father Augustus Tolton, who labored among us in tines of contradiction, times that were both beautiful and paradoxical. His ministry helped lay the foundation for a truly Catholic gathering in faith in our time.  We stand in the shadow of his ministry.  May his life continue to inspire us and imbue us with that confidence and hope that will forge a new evangelization for the Church we love.

Father in Heaven, Father Tolton’s suffering service sheds light upon our sorrows; we see them through the prism of your Son’s passion and death.  If it be Your Will, O God, glorify your servant, Father Tolton, by granting the favor I now request through his intercession [mention your request] so that all may know the goodness of this priest whose memory looms large in the Church he loved.

Complete what you have begun in us that we might work for the fulfillment of your kingdom. Not to us the glory, but glory to you O God, through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are our God, living and reigning forever and ever. Amen. 

C: 2020, Archdiocese of Chicago



Sister Thea Bowman

Ever Loving God, who by your infinite goodness inflamed the heart of your servant and religious, Sister Thea Bowman, with an ardent love for you and the people of God; a love expressed through her indomitable spirit, deep and abiding faith, dedicated teaching, exuberate singing, and unwavering witness to the joy of the Gospel.

Her prophetic witness continues to inspire us to share the Good News with those whom we encounter; most especially the poor, oppressed, and the marginalized. May Sister Thea’s life and legacy compel us to walk together, to pray together, and to remain together as missionary disciples ushering in the new evangelization of the Church we love.

Gracious God, imbue us with the grace and persesrcerance that you gave your servant, Sister Thea. For in turbulent times of racial injustice, she sough equity, peace, and the reconciliation. In times of intolerance and ignorance, she brought wisdom, awareness, unity, and charity. In times of pain, sickness, and suffering, she taught us how to live fully until called home to the land of promise. If it be Your will, O God, glorify our beloved sister Thea, by granting the favor I now request through her intercession [mention your request], so that all may know of her goodness and holiness and may imitate her love for You and your Church.  We ask this through Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

c: 2020 Diocese of Jackson

Pierre Toussiant

Lord God, source of love and compassion, we praise and honor You for the virtuous and charitable life of our brother in Christ, Venerable Pierre Toussiant.

Inspired by the example of our Lord Jesus, Pierre worshipped You with love and served Your people with generosity. He attended Mass daily and responded to the practical and spiritual needs of friends and strangers, the rich and the poor, the sick and the homeless of 19th-century New York.

If it is Your will, let the name of Venerable Pierre Toussaint be officially raised to the rank of Saint, so that the world may know this Haitian New Yorker who refused to hate or be selfish but insttead lived to the full commandments of heaven and the ficine law of love-love for God and for neighbor.

By following his example and asking for his prayers, may we, too, be counted among the blessed in heaven.

We ask this though Christ our Lord. Amen.

C: 2020, Diocese of Dallas.