There will be a new Catholic school opened in Baltimore, Md., for the first time in decades, and when that happens the city will name it after Servant of God Mother Mary Lange, an African American nun who also founded the first Catholic school for black children.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore announced its intentions last week, noting that Mother Lange also is being reviewed for canonization, and could become the first ever black American saint, the Baltimore Sun reports.
“One can’t tell the history of the Catholic school system in this country without mentioning Mother Mary Lange,” Archbishop William E. Lori said in a statement.
Mother Mary Lange Catholic School will be built, perhaps aptly, along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
“She was a visionary woman of deep faith and recognized the life-changing role of education in the lives of children, most especially those living on society’s margins,” Lori added, according to the Catholic News Agency.
That being said, it was initially intended for the school to be named after the late Cardinal William Keeler. However, that plan was quickly tossed out after a Pennsylvania grand jury report accused Keeler of criminal inaction for his part in the coverup of child sex abuse within the Catholic church.
Lange’s name was suggested by Ralph Moore in a letter to the Sun, and Moore took it a step further, starting a petition online to have Lange honored.
“It’s such an obvious good choice,” More told the Sun, praising Lori’s decision. “I think it will cause a lot of excitement around the diocese and around the city.”
Lange was born in Santiago de Cuba and was raised in a French-speaking community, before moving to the U.S. in the early 1800s. While living in Baltimore, during a time when much of the black population was enslaved, Lange founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first order of black nuns in modern history, according to the Sun. The order went on to found the first Catholic school for black students, St. Frances Academy.
A spokesperson for the Oblate Sisters said that the decision to name the new school after Lange was “a great honor and tribute.”
Mother Mary Lange Catholic School will serve grades pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The student body will comprise of those currently attending Holy Angels Catholic School, as well as students from Saints James and John Catholic School The archdiocese has about $2 million more to raise before construction can begin.
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