Black Catholic History Month: The Josephite Fathers and Brothers

Earlier in the month, we discussed the life of Father Charles Uncles, the first black priest both trained and ordained in the United States. He was instrumental in the founding of the Society of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.   This order of priests and religious were founded to evangelize the recently freed blacks in America.

Actually, there had already existed a Catholic organization called the Josephites, the St Joseph Mission Society, founded in London in 1866.  At the request of a council of American bishops, the Mission society sent some of its personnel to the United States to establish missions and schools for freedmen.

In 1893, just two years after his ordination, Father Charles Uncles was asked to help reorganize the Mission Society offices into a permanent American institution.  He and four other priests did just that, forming the  Society of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in Baltimore.

Today, Josephites are active throughout the nation, and have parishes in Alabama, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., as well as Maryland.  The Josephites aren’t exclusively African-American.  Historically there have been more white Jospehite priests than black.  But this order of dedicated religious men holds great significance for the African–American community inside and outside the Catholic Church.

Craig


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