Skip to main content

Villanova Inaugurates Lecture in Black Catholic History


VILLANOVA, Pa.—As part of the celebration of Black Catholic History Month, Villanova University will host its inaugural Mother Mary Lange Lecture in Black Catholic History at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 8, in the Connelly Center’s Villanova Room. Erin Rowe, PhD, an associate professor of History at Johns Hopkins University and the author of Black Saints in Early Modern Global Catholicism (Cambridge University Press, 2019), will deliver a lecture titled “Black Saints in the Americas, Past and Present.”

In addition, special guest Sister Rita Michelle Proctor, OSP, the superior general of the Oblate Sisters of Divine Providence in Baltimore, will offer remarks on her order’s history and the resilience of its pioneering founder, Servant of God Mother Mary Lange, who is one of six American Catholics of African descent on the road to canonization.

The Oblate sisters of Providence, the first congregation for women of color, was established in 1829. The order, in turn, founded St. Frances Academy, the oldest continuously operating school for Black Catholic children in the United States. Villanova was one of the first Catholic institutions of higher education to welcome Black women religious, most notably the Oblate Sisters of Providence, after World War I. The inauguration of the Lange Lecture exemplifies the University’s ongoing commitment to anti-racism, as well as to the contributions and achievements of Black Catholics.

Villanova’s heritage, mission and identity are rooted in one of the most prominent of African saints and thinkers: Augustine. The influential bishop, theologian and philosopher was born Nov. 13, 354, in what is present-day Algeria. His birth date, as well as other important dates related to Catholics of African descent, prompted the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States in 1990 to establish November as Black Catholic History Month.

The Lange Lecture is sponsored by the Office for Mission and Ministry, the Office of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Department of History. It is free and open to the public; click here to register. For those attending, please review Villanova’s masking requirements.