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Stations of the Cross: Black Catholic Women Bear Witness

This set of stations reflects 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. 

Each time Jesus falls, participants are invited reflect on exceprts from Catholic Social Teaching on the issue of race and racism. By doing so, we acknowledge — 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 we claim.

Art: Stations of the Cross by Janet McKenzie. Copyright 2013 by Janet McKenzie. Used with permission. Visit

To learn more, download our resource packet. Women Witnesses for Racial Justice resource packets include:

  • Introductory Remarks
  • Opening and closing prayer
  • Fourteen stations inspired by the research of Shannen Dee Williams and featuring the art of Janet McKenzie
  • Suggested songs


Black Catholic History Rosary

“We recall the boldness of Bishop Harold Perry, SVD, who challenged his brother bishops to address the overt and covert stains of racism that prevent Black Catholics from fully participating in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.”   Dr. Kirk P. Gaddy

The Black Catholic History Rosary was developed by the late Dr. Kirk P. Gaddy in June of 2014. Dr. Gaddy invites prayers to reflect using the traditional method praying of the Rosary while introducing new mysteries that trace Black Catholic history.

*Please note that Dr. Gaddy’s prayers contain masculine language for God. While FutureChurch generally encourages the use of inclusive and expansive language, we have retained his original wording out of respect for his contribution and in deference to his spirituality. 

To learn more, download this resource. Our resource includes:

  • Guide to praying the Rosary
  • Black Catholic History Rosary


Racial Justice Excerpts from Catholic Social Teaching

“As Christians, as Catholics, as people of faith, we must do more than just pray; we must model Jesus’ message to love one’s neighbor. Our neighbor cannot breathe! Our neighbor is being lynched! Our neighbor is dying! Our Red Record of Hate must end now!” –  The National Black Sisters’ Conference  

FutureChurch offers key selections on racial justice from Catholic Social Teaching, including excepts from documents by The National Black Sisters’ Conference, The Second Vatican Council, Black Catholic Bishops of the United States, the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

To learn more, download this resource packet. This resource includes:

  • Excerpts from Catholic Social Teaching
  • Questions for reflection and conversation


Essential Readings on Racial Justice

“The goal for Black people has never been charity; it is full justice, human rights, freedom and the complete dismantling of white supremacy, beginning with the church.”  – Shannen Dee Williams, Ph.D.

FutureChurch offers two articles from two leading Catholic Scholars – historian Shannen Dee Williams, Ph.D., and theologian, Rev. Bryan M. Massingale, Ph.D. – on racial justice along with questions for reflection and dialogue.

Shannen Dee Williams is the Albert Lepage Assistant Professor of History at Villanova University. She is completing her first book, Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle. In 2018, she received the inaugural Sr. Christine Schenk Award for Young Catholic Leadership from FutureChurch for using history to foster racial justice and reconciliation in religious congregations of women. 

Bryan N. Massingale is the James and Nancy Buckman Professor of Theological and Social Ethics at Fordham University in New York. He is the author of Racial Justice and the Catholic Church.

To learn more, download our resource packet. This resource includes

  • Articles
  • Questions for reflection and conversation


Mother Mary Lange

“My sole wish is to do the will of God.”

Elizabeth Clarisse Lange, later known as Mother Mary Lange founded the first community for Black women religious in the United States.

She had a profoundly tranformative impact on the life of the Catholic Church. Of French and African dissent she was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1784. Other oral traditions indicate she may have been born in Haiti. Her family fled the violence and uncertainty of the Haitian Revolution immigrating first to Cuba in one of Santiago’s French-speaking neighborhoods. During her childhood, she received an excellent education.

Sometime in the early 1800s Elizabeth and her mother Annette left their lives of relative wealth and comfort in Cuba to come to the United States. Her father did not join them. Although the reason for their departure is not clear, some speculate that the mother and daughter decided to leave in 1808 when the newly established government in Cuba required all non-Spanish citizens to sign an oath of allegiance to the king of Spain. Mother Lange always identified herself as French – even to her soul.

They arrived in the United States at Charleston, South Carolina but only remained a short time before making their way to Norfolk, Virginia and finally to Baltimore, Maryland by 1813. Here Eizabeth made her home in the Fells Point area of the city where she felt at home amongst an already sizable community of fellow French speaking Afro-Caribbeans. Her mother, on the other hand, returned to the West Indies.

In the United States, Lange courageously faced multiple oppressions. First, she was a Black women in a white male dominated culture. Secondly, she was an immigrant and a Catholic in a nation where virulent anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic movements were rearing up. Native-born Protestants, mostly in urban areas, felt threatened by the new arrivals. To many Protestants, the Catholic Church represented tyranny and potential subjugation to a foreign power. On a practical level, competition for jobs increased as new laborers arrived. As anti-immigrant and anti–Catholic feelings arose, nativist groups began to form in cities across the United States. Finally, Lange was a free Black woman in a nation where slavery was fiercely defended and religiously sanctioned and where Maryland, a slave state, resisted freeing slaves even after the Emancipation Proclaimation of Jan 1, 1863. It was not until November 1, 1864 that Maryland declared slaves free which was just a few months before Congress approved the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

To learn more, download our resource packet. Women Witnesses for Racial Justice resource packets include:

  • Biography/Essay
  • Questions for reflection and conversation
  • Original art by Chloe Becker
  • Prayer Service
  • Suggestions for taking action in your community


Sister Antona Ebo

“I am here because I am a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and because I want to bear witness…. I’m here today because yesterday [in Saint Louis] I voted.”

On Sunday March 7, 1965, Alabama state troopers and local police beat and bloodied civil rights activists who had begun a 50-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital. Immediately following the “Bloody Sunday” attack, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. issued a call for church leaders around the country to come to Selma and to join in the struggle for civil rights.

On March 10th, Sister Antona Ebo, a Franciscan Sister of Mary, took off from Saint Louis, Missouri to Selma on a chartered plane that she joked had been pulled out of mothballs. The March 11th cover of The New York Times featured a photo of Sister Ebo marching alongside other protesters. That photo would become an iconic image of the struggle for voting rights.

Throughout her life — both before and after Selma — Sister Ebo, who died in 2017, was a civil rights pioneer. She credited the Holy Spirit for guiding her throughout her life and often sang the black spiritual, “I’m Gonna Do What the Spirit Says Do” whenever she talked to audiences about her experience in Selma and the ongoing struggle for racial justice. Indeed, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may be the only explanation for how Sister Ebo ended up in Selma

To learn more, download our resource packet. Women Witnesses for Racial Justice resource packets include:

  • Biography/Essay
  • Questions for reflection and conversation
  • Original art by Chloe Becker
  • Prayer Service
  • Suggestions for taking action in your community


Artist: Chloe Becker. Comissioned by FutureChurch. Visit to purchase prints. 

Enacting Vatican II: Four-part Series with Maureen Sullivan, OP

Sr. Maureen Sullivan, OP leads this four-part education series about the contributions of theologians who laid the groundwork for the Council, the documents, and how to make Vatican II a greater reality today. Videos to each of the presentations and PDFs of Sr. Maureen’s presentations can be found below.

Dr. Maureen Sullivan is a Dominican Sister of Hope from New York and Professor Emerita of Theology at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. She received her master of arts in Theology from Manhattan College in the Bronx and her PhD in Theology from Fordham University, also in the Bronx. The Second Vatican Council, along with its impact on our Church, is at the center of her theological research. She has written two books on Vatican II: 101 Questions and Answers on Vatican II (2002) and The Road to Vatican II: Key Changes in Theology (2007), both published by Paulist Press.


Session One – General Introduction

View the text of this presentation


Session Two – The Council Looks at the Modern World

View the text of this presentation.


Session Three – The Council Looks at the Laity

View the text of this presentation


Session Four – The Council Looks at the Church Itself

View the text of this presentation

Women Erased: Catholic Women, Feminism, and a New Paradigm for Being Church with Sr. Sandra Schneiders, IHM

Read the Transcript

In the spring of 2012, the CDF, under the leadership of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, issued a statement accusing Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) of promoting “radical feminist themes” and “corporate dissent.”  Most U.S. nuns vigorously rejected this misrepresentation as thousands of Catholics  in the United States and around the globe rose up in their defense.

After the election of Pope Francis and the shift in priorities in Rome, on April 15, 2015, in a report issued jointly by officers of LCWR and the three bishops who had been mandated to investigate the group’s doctrinal orthodoxy, both sides agreed that the mandate had been accomplished and their conversations had “borne much fruit.”

Sr. Sandra Schneiders has written extensively about the impact of feminism as a comprehensive framework for the Catholic Church, Vatican II, and the prophetic nature of religious life.    After the dust settled from the 2009 Apostolic Visitation, and more acutely, the 2012 Vatican investigation, Sr. Schneiders wrote that the upheaval ultimately strengthened the bond between women religious and helped them to define the feminist principles that served as a foundation for their work in the Church.

In her Madaleva Lecture, “With Oil in Their Lamps: Faith, Feminism, and the Future”, Sr. Schneiders extols the promise of a Gospel-informed feminism on the life of the Church and the work of  the Gospel in the world.  Yet, she holds no illusions about the inevitability of feminism’s impact.  “We cannot predict the future, we can only create it.”

In her presentation for our Women Erased series, Sr. Scheiders will explore the questions surrounding feminism’s role and efficacy  in the Catholic Church today.

Where have Catholic feminism(s)  and Catholic feminists made inroads?  What more can needs to be accomplished?

Does feminism, in general, and religiously committed feminism make a positive contribution to the future of the human family and our universe, or is it destined to be suppressed or fade away, leaving the world still structured by patriarchy, torn by violence, divided between the have and have nots, and driving by individualism, greed, and hedonism?*

*Schneiders, Sandra M., With Oil in Their Lamps: Faith, Feminism, and the Future (New York, Paulist Press, 2000), p 83.

Sandra M. Schneiders is professor emerita of New Testament studies and Christian spirituality at Jesuit School of Theology, Santa Clara University, Berkeley, Calif., and author of Prophets in Their Own Country: Women Religious Bearing Witness to the Gospel in a Troubled Church (2012), among other publications. She is a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan.

Sr. Schneiders was one of the first two nuns to receive a theology doctorate from a pontifical university after Vatican II, and  went on to become the first non-Jesuit female professor to be tenured at JST. She is a pioneering, and often-cited theologian of St. John’s Gospel and in the field of “hermeneutics,” or how to interpret texts. She helped establish the country’s first doctoral program in Christian spirituality, at the Graduate Theological Union, and is a highly regarded and sought-after expert in Biblical studies and the modern-day theology and spirituality of women religious.

Her extraordinary life and work were featured last year in a gallery exhibit at Santa Clara University’s Learning Commons, and her professional papers have been donated to Santa Clara University’s official archives—the first collection of its kind at SCU.

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