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St. Aloysius-St. Agatha Church displays banners of Black Catholics who are on the road to sainthood

It’s one way the Cleveland parish is celebrating Black History Month.
Updated: Feb. 14, 2021 at 10:24 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s not a sight some are used to seeing so prominently on display in the Catholic Church.

Six Black American Catholics are on the road to becoming saints
Six Black American Catholics are on the road to becoming saints(WOIO)

“When I came the first Sunday and saw, I was overwhelmed,” said parishioner, Beverly Berry.

Leaders at St. Aloysius-St. Agatha parish in the Glenville neighborhood are working hard to change that.

Sister Mary Jean Raymond tracked down these banners and brought them here to Cleveland.

Six Black American Catholics are on the road to becoming saints
Six Black American Catholics are on the road to becoming saints(WOIO)

The images recognize 6 Black Americans who are candidates for sainthood in the Catholic Church:

Servant of God Thea Bowman, Servant of God Julia Greeley, Servant of God Mother Mary Lange, Venerable Mother Henriette DeLille, Venerable Father Augustus Tolton, and Venerable Pierre Toussaint

At least 11 U.S. Catholics have been recognized as saints and none of them are Black.

“Many people are totally unaware that Black Americans are candidates for sainthood,” said Sister Raymond. ”Usually you hear about all the other sides of the history but not about the goodness and the good people we want to celebrate,” she said.

During Black History Month, church leaders are sharing the story of their lives and achievements with parishioners and the school children.

They even hand out cards that detail the history of the servants they’re recognizing.

Six Black American Catholics are on the road to becoming saints
Six Black American Catholics are on the road to becoming saints(WOIO)

”When Father read the litany of all the saints, it brought tears to my eyes cause I thought of my grandparents and my mother, they were devout Catholics but also they lived through a lot, said longtime parishioner, Belinda Sims.

Father Mark Hobson shares the magnitude of sainthood and it what it means for the Catholic Church during Mass.

“We’re experiencing the division that racism has wrought in our land and this something the church can do. It’s just one thing, we’ve got a lot to do but this is one thing,” said Father Hobson.

Six Black American Catholics are on the road to becoming saints
Six Black American Catholics are on the road to becoming saints(WOIO)

“Up until now, we only had Saint Martin de Porres and he was blessed for so long until he finally became a saint, so to see 6 more this quickly, it’s very good,” said longtime parishioner Mary Robinson.

Although the banners are displayed and will be discussed throughout Black History month, the plan is to keep them up permanently to become a permanent part of the community.

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