Black priest and white nun have love child in the segregated 1950s, the son meets his estranged family in Cleveland

Updated: May. 16, 2019 at 12:59 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Yes, you read the headline correctly, this story is insane.

It is one of religion, race and the right to love all detailed in a memoir titled Forbidden Love.

The story is about a black priest and a white nun falling in love in the segregated 1950s, only to have a love child they couldn’t keep.

Years later, that son named Joe Steele, found out the truth after meeting his biological mother in his thirties.

“My mother didn’t share this information with until she was on her deathbed - nobody knew her secret.”

Joe Steele
Joe Steele pictured with his mother Sophie Legocki (Source: Forbidden Love)
Joe Steele pictured with his mother Sophie Legocki (Source: Forbidden Love)

Father William Grau

(Source: Forbidden Love)
(Source: Forbidden Love)

Sister Sophie Legocki

(Source: Forbidden Love)
(Source: Forbidden Love)

The secret lovers gave up their son for adoption in Cincinnati, where he was raised by a loving family.

Steele went on to go to Harvard to pursue a career in business, but longed for the truth (like most adoptees) about his biological parents.

He spent years crafting the book alongside Lisa Jones Gentry, finally releasing the book in 2018.

Steele was able to meet the descendants of Father Grau for the first time this year.

“Hey, what do you think about the book - I’m like what book.”

Cathy Hyland, cousin

It was a shock for a lot of the family, but that didn’t stop them from welcoming Steele with open arms.

"We have a big family, so the more the merrier, Cathy Hyland added.

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